Crooked Little Faith: Writer Anne Lamott Staggers Toward Jesus

Sojourners, May-June 1999

Not long ago, my loving mother played an old cassette tape for some friends of mine, exposing one of my best-kept childhood secrets: I was once a 6-year-old evangelist wannabe.

I was Southern Baptist when I was little, with the accent to prove it. My father’s tape recorder served as both devoted congregation and patient baby-sitter. For two whole sides of that tape, I sang, I clapped, I gave my theological interpretation of Romans 6:23. I seemed to have a grasp on sin. But I knew about faith, too, changing the verse to call Jesus “my” Lord instead of “our” Lord. Apparently, I hadn’t yet found any scripture references to sharing.

Once I recovered from my embarrassment, I listened to the tape intently, surprised, trying to remember that little girl with the huge conviction. Lately my faith resembled a dried mudpie left in the sun too long: misshapen and lumpy, full of cracks and crumbling away at the edges. That’s about the time I heard lyrics by Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” I wanted to believe him.

Then I found Anne Lamott, a writer who calls that lyric one of her favorite theological lines ever written. This is a woman who knows cracks and who will tell you about them. …

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