Anne Lamott: 'God's in the Struggle With Us'

Best-selling author Anne Lamott on growing up atheist, being a left-wing Jesus-lover, and what she's learned at 50.

Anne LamottAnne Lamott, dreadlocks intact, the "bad girl" of born-again Christianity, is still figuring out spiritual truth while keeping her progressive values and sense of humor. Author of the best-selling "Operating Instructions" (on having a baby solo), "Traveling Mercies" (on her journey as a Christian), "Bird by Bird" (a classic on writing), Lamott chronicles her life over the last six years in her newest book, "Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith," a recent national best-seller. She spoke with Beliefnet about turning 50, going through menopause, parenting a teenager, avoiding the pitfalls of "success addiction," and her reborn political activism.

I was wondering in what way you think you've grown spiritually in the last few years since "Traveling Mercies." What's changed for you?

I think the main thing was I really got forced to deal with the fact that usually you don't get what you want-you get what you get. "Traveling Mercies" was written during the Clinton administration when I was generally speaking in a much better mood politically. "Plan B" was written post-9/11 and also toward the end of one whole term of what I consider to be the most dangerous administration in the history of the republic. So it forced me into new ground and new challenges. It really made me consider what it is I hope to accomplish with my work and what it is I can offer, which is a voice of hope and a voice of belief that alchemy is a spiritual truth for us. On the spiritual path, all the dreck and misery is transformed, maybe not that same day, but still transformed into spiritual fuel or insight. So I think that's the main difference-places I've had to go to since Bush became president. That really challenged my faith.

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Toward the end of the book you were trying to spend some time forgiving George Bush and seeing what that felt like. Did you succeed?

That's why [the essay] is called "Loving Your President Day 2." Day 1 went so well because I was in church and feeling inspired by what the pastor had to say-this incredible, loving, compassionate environment of church, where your heart would just get so soft and tender and all things are possible. But at some point you have to leave and go back home and turn on CNN.

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