"Struggling with her return to the Christian church after many years away, Kathleen Norris found it was the language of Christianity that most distanced her from faith. Words like "judgment", "faith", "dogma", "salvation", "sinner" -- even "Christ" -- formed what she called her "scary vocabulary", words that had become so codified or abstract that their meanings were all but impenetrable. She found she had to wrestle with them and make them her own before they could confer their blessings and their grace. Blending history, theology, story-telling, etymology, and memoir, Norris uses these words as a starting point for reflection, and offers a moving account of her own gradual conversion. She evokes a rich spirituality rooted firmly in the chaos of everyday life -- and offers believers and doubters alike an illuminating perspective on how we can embrace ancient traditions and find faith in the contemporary world." -- from back cover.
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Her book is a series of short, beautifully written essays (none more than 5 pages long) about the 'vocabulary of faith' as she calls it. There are thoughts on there are excerpts on such words as Heresy, Reprobate, Idolatry, Anger, Herod, Hospitality, Orthodoxy, Ecstacy, Trinity, and a host of others.
It is difficult for me to explain how deeply this book affected me, and how personally inspirational I found it. She certainly is well-studied, but it is the poetic insights that she imparts to traditional scriptural and 'doctrinal' terminology that is so gripping. The fact that she manages to weave her personal story into this is almost a cherry on top a huge sundae.
It may not be the book for everyone, but if you are looking for a positive, beautifully written, easy to read book, you will not go wrong with this one.
Amazing Grace is a collection of short stories arranged by topic, and which act as small meditatiions on a theme - grace, incarnation.