Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
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When, more than 20 years ago, Kathleen Norris began attending her grandmother's small-town church on the Great Plains, she was a transplanted poet with more doubt than faith. Still, the strong pulls of tradition, family, history, and community compelled her to return week after week to Sunday morning services, and her deepening ties to a nearby monastery awoke in her a desire to believe. In returning to the church, Norris's greatest struggle was with the language of the Christian religion. Words such as "judgment," "prayer," "faith," "dogma," "salvation," "sinner," and even "Christ" formed what she called her "scary vocabulary" - words that often intimidate people and distance them from their religious heritage. She found she had to wrestle with them, grapple with their meanings and make them her own, before they could confer their blessings and their grace. Blending history, theology, story, etymology, and memoir, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith is a poet's journey through language to faith, with each word serving as the occasion for an examination of a particular aspect of the Christian lexicon.