Thursday, October 7, 2010


In my attempt to read more nonfiction (be proud), I read through David Platt's Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream this week as well as Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. I thought they'd be an interesting contrast. Not that I was planning to read them back to back, but sometimes things like that happen. They're such different books that in many ways, I feel like I'm making a mistake blogging about them at the same time, but here we go.

Platt blew me away. He really did. If you're serious about your walk with Christ and truly desiring to grow more and seek truth, go get this book. I was encouraged and challenged, and I actually cried a little at the end. And while I cry significantly more now than I did before I became a mom (it's just one of those things, I've discovered), I still wouldn't classify myself as a crier. It is a must reread for me. Mostly because there are a lot of things that Platt said that I want to write down and remember.

That said, Anne Lamott: I picked up Traveling Mercies, knowing that I would probably disagree with most of Lamott's theology, and I did. So why did I even bother to read it, you ask. Well, I read Bird by Bird a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and I wanted to see what else she had to say. Plus, I think that most of us benefit greatly from listening to different ideas. It's a great way to challenge your own thoughts and make sure that they are founded on truth instead of just ideological habits that you've gotten into. With that said, there were parts of this book that I really loved. As a person, I think Anne Lamott is a lot of fun, and her dreads are pretty much awesome. I think we would be friends. But she herself defines her religion as "Christianish", and I think that's pretty honest of her. She wants to take the feel-good parts of Christianity and leave out the difficult ones. Unfortunately, as Platt points out in Radical, we don't really get to pick and choose. Jesus is who he says he is, and we can either accept that or realize that what/who we're worshiping isn't really Jesus, it's just something we've made up for ourselves. Still, I did find a few encouraging words from Lamott, and there were passages that were beautifully written. And a few that were just worth a good laugh. It was worth the read, but... Well, if someone offered you the choice between a small square of chocolate and a pile of gold... That's about how I'd compare Traveling Mercies to Radical. Traveling Mercies was a good read but didn't have much lasting value (and it might give you a cavity). Radical actually gave me something for the long haul, even if some of the points Platt made left me uncomfortably squirmy. Conviction is rarely comfortable, I find.


  1. I read Travelling Mercies a while ago, and didn't like it much (it was a while ago, and I can't remember why - another perk of motherhood).

    While not theological, I'd recommend Lammott's book about her first year with a child. I liked it a lot, and it was before I had a kid myself.

  2. Now I want a square of chocolate (dark) to eat while I read Radical...

  3. excellent post, marian! good insights. i've read both books and you were fair to both. and yes, radical was a powerful challenge and the Lord has already used it to open my eyes to the needs of about 30 orphans living 5 minutes away from me!!! Love you, Mom

  4. I have been reading through Radical and been challenged every step of the way. And I cry in pretty much every chapter but then..I AM a crier. And a mother. And pregnant. Bad combo there.

  5. I'm going to order Radical right now. I might read the other book someday, too, but based on what you said, it would be one to pick up at the library, not one to own. :-)