AMAZING GRACE by Kathleen Norris ($25)


Subtitled: "A Vocabulary of Faith". Contains 80 short chapters with titles such as: Eschatolgy; Antichrist; Salvation; Incarnation; Prayer; Perfection; Belief, Doubt and Sacred Ambiguity; Lectio Divina; Church; Conversion: The Family Story; Conversion: The Stories, and much more. Well done!

Introduction, p. 2-3 -- "When I began attending church again after twenty years away, I felt bombarded by the vocabulary of the Christian church. Words such as 'Christ', 'heresy', 'repentance' and 'salvation' seemed dauntingly abstract to me, even vaguely threatening. They carried an enormous weight of emotional baggage from my own childhood and also from family history. For reasons I did not comprehend, church seemed a place I needed to be. But in order to inhabit it, to claim it as mine, I had to rebuild my religious vocabulary. The words had to become real to me, in an existential sense.

"This book is a report on the process by which they did so. And in writing it, I find that it has been important for me to discern which words still remain 'scary' to me, and for what reason...I have compiled this 'lexicon' in the firm conviction that human beings are essentially storytelling bipeds, and that dictionary definitions of potent religious words, while useful in understanding one's religious heritage, are of far less importance than the lived experience of them within that tradition. It has certainly been the case for me."

Incarnation, p. 30 -- "For me, the Incarnation is the place, if you will, where hope contends with fear. Not an antique doctrine at all, but reality--as ordinary as my everyday struggles with fears great and small, as exalted as the hope that allows me some measure of peace when I soldier on in the daily round."


"I've purchased this one sight unseen, because I'm a fan of Kathleen Norris. I haven't read a whole lot of it yet, but it looks like a real gold mine. It's a sort of theological word book, by this Presbyterian elder and poet." - Carlos Wilton (carlos.wilton.parti@ecunet.org

"This stuff is not Fred Buechner. It seems to lack his taste for humor mixed with irony. However, Norris is, once again, provocative and insightful as she gives new life on all those old theologically arcane words that we learned about in seminary and which, if I could hazard a guess, we have by-and-large not given much serious thought to since. If I had had this book 25 years ago, I might have had been able to understand what all the full was about concerning these words!" (Submitted by Mathias Geiger, Thu, May 7, 1998 at 11:04 pm, Pastor at First Congregational UCC, Moorhead, MN. Internet address: mnmngeiger@aol.com OR Mathias_Geiger@ecunet.org).

"'Amazing Grace' allows us to see theology through the poet's eyes and hear the language of faith spoken in the voice of the poet. I think people are looking for a way to connect with God, but the words we use are so foreign to them. This book might just enable preachers and theologians to speak in a new way of ancient Truths, and in so doing, begin to rebuild the bridge between us and God." - Thom M. Shuman (Contact him at thom.m.shuman.parti@ecunet.org)


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