September 17, 2007

With her third book of essays Lamott has begun to divide her readers into two camps: those who need another set of essays on Lamott’s life and those who, despite appreciating her earlier work, have had enough. Lamott picks up where she left off in Plan B, taking the reader back to the dramas of raising her son and dealing with the aging process and the loss of close friends. However repetitive her themes, no one makes sense of life’s difficulties more artfully than Lamott or has her rich repertoire of wit, grace and sincerity. Many anecdotes and comments are worth underlining, including her account of her last-minute jump from an ascending ski lift. As she lies stunned and embarrassed on the ground, she imagines that “a tall strong man with a medical toboggan would be by soon, . . . or Jesus in earmuffs.” Readers might also want to bookmark her phrase “a Holy Spirit snatch”—a reference to moments when the Holy Spirit grabs the wheel and takes control.

Anyone who seriously reads this exposition on the Gloria Patri will never again be able to recite this doxology in worship without giving thought to its meaning. The first part of the book is an economically written account of the historical development of the doxology. The second part is an extended meditation on the nature of the triune God, creation, Providence, human existence and time and eternity. This doxology, Ayo maintains, can be recited in three different ways: in the indicative mood, it is a statement of fact about the glory of God throughout all time and eternity; in the optative mood, it is a petition to give glory to God ([May] glory be to the Father . . .); and in the imperative mood, it becomes a prayer of praise to the triune God. We should not have to choose between these three readings of the doxology, Ayo concludes.