Good writers have an honest, authentic, living voice, and that is one thing that is about as clear as it gets with Karen Spears Zacharias in her new book Where’s Your Jesus Now? Her father was killed in Viet Nam. Here’s how she opens chp 8:
“I never considered myself a bigot, even though I despised Asian people” (105). She continues: “That all began to change after I met Xuan Nguyen at the Fishtrap Writers Gathering.”
So far as I can tell, Karen’s no pacifist and she gives hours and hours to help those who suffer as a result of the deaths of combatants. But she doesn’t spare words about what she thinks of what’s now going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or with how little the federal government supports widows of those who die in the military.
Her authentic voice — her questioning spirit — leads her to a chp about experiences with those who are gay and she wonders aloud why it is that conservative Christians have turned homosexuality into such an issue when, whether you take Leviticus or Romans 1, those texts are surrounded by sins that are quite easily ignored by the same kind of Christians. She poses no solutions; she wonders aloud.
Karen’s authentic voice is Southern and Southern funny. She’s got a bit of Lewis Grizzard in her somewhere and somehow. I like this little set of lines from a fine chp on forgiveness: “I don’t think that forgiving others means you have to bake a cake for your husband’s mistress. Not unless you make it with a strong laxative or substitute salt for sugar, but then that wouldn’t be an act of forgiveness anyway, would it?” (143).
Here’s one of my favorites: “It’s been a struggle to love myself. Even after I clean up good nobody calls me babe. My chin has mated with my neck and produced a wee-wobble. I had to give up wearing shorts and bathing suits for national security reasons. Trust me on that. I’m not sure what my real hair color is, or how to best describe my make and model. I have momentary lapses of my brain, bladder, and boobs. The latter are like London Bridge — they all fall down” (151).
Ah, Karen, we love you, no matter the make and model. You remind me at times of Anne Lamott.