If I were a Christian, I’d attend Anne Lamott’s Church

When reading Anne’s many diatribes on Salon, or her book, Operating Instructions soon after Gabriel was born, I have in the past felt like I should give her a call to chat about God. But now, after reading her A call to arms this evening, I’m sure of it: If I were a Christian, I’d go to Anne Lamott’s Church.

Before you get too excited about my new-found religious zeal, I must admit that just last night I was contemplating becoming Buddhist after a particularly wonderful yoga experience until Matt sagely commented “Isn’t yoga Hindi?” (You are so right! There I go, mixing up my Eastern religions again. My brother the religious studies minor would be so proud!) So I’m not really the best person to ask about religion, especially because I can neither confirm nor deny how much red wine I may have guzzled since my husband headed to California on Sunday.

But I will say that Anne Lamott is not the only person out there who is feeling a need to meditate, or pray, or do something to respond to the recent blatant propaganda, venom and fear-mongering dished out by McCain, Palin, and their crew. The bliss of my media-free week in the mountains of Idaho rapidly diminished upon my return, and I needed Lamott’s pep-talk this evening more than ever.

As always, she handles her grief and frustration with a deft comic hand, asking everyone who is literally fuming over the deception and absurdities of Republican presidential ticket to go out and take a spin on the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator.

So, now that I’ve changed my name to Shank Piston in honor of the Chief Executive of the great state of Alaska, I will share some of my favorite excerpts from Anne’s article:

On Sarah Palin: “I hate to criticize. And I love to kill wolves as much as the next person does. But this woman takes such pride in her ignorance, doesn’t have a doubt in the world about her messianic calling, that it makes anyone of decency feel nauseated — spiritually, emotionally and physically ill.”

Oh, snap!

Now, I am a reform Christian, so it is permissible for me to secretly believe that God hates this woman, too. I heard God slam down a couple of shooters while she was talking the other night.

Me too, God, me too!

On what we can do to change things: “This is the only way miracles ever happen — left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe. The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world.”

I met two women outside the grocery store today who were registering folks to vote. In the brief time I was there, they got totally dissed by one person who flung some sort of anti-liberal shot at them (they were not wearing campaign buttons or mentioning party affiliation at all and yet by the act of trying to encourage democracy through participatory government, were instantly labeled heretical liberals) and were chagrined when they approached someone who was a convicted felon (and thereby legally unable to vote). So when I walked up, I tried to do my part, because with two little kids, I’m not going to be out registering voters in the Vitamin Cottage parking lot any time soon. I looked them straight in the eye and sincerely thanked them for doing something so crucial to our form of government and our way of life in this country: standing up for what they believed in and doing their part, one baby step at a time…

A is for Affluence

When I first discovered APLS (Affluent People Living Sustainably), I was a bit surprised that there was so much discussion around the choice of the word affluent. Not only am I comfortable granting creative license for a good acronym (and who doesn’t love APLS and its tie-ins like “The Bushel Basket”???), but I recognize the fact that many Americans, my nuclear family included, are both fortunate and unusual because things like hunger, poverty, homelessness, disease, and mortal danger are things we read about in the news instead of actually having to fear or experience them.

So for me, affluence is an important part of the APLS equation. Not in a jet around the world with Paris Hilton sort of way, because we’re far from that. But having enough money to live comfortably, with access to ample food, clean water, shelter, clothing, education, and entertainment gives us something that most of the rest of the world does not have when it comes to sustainable living: choices.

A conventional cotton farmer in India, for example, does not have much choice about whether he or she is exposed to the toxic chemicals required to produce the crop (and I recently read that many of these farmers, unable to make a decent living due to the cost of the GM seed and chemicals, are turning to suicide. That’s some choice!). The women and children working in factories around the world to produce so many of the inexpensive goods we Americans consume in mass quantities don’t have a choice about the number of hours they work, the chemicals to which they are exposed, or the education and other opportunities they forgo to work for slave’s wages.

But we have a choice. We can choose to live more simply. We can choose to drive less, consume less, and lighten our burden on the Earth. We can choose organic foods because we live in a country where the choice is between organic, local, conventional, or fresh, frozen or canned instead of being between food or lodging, between food or medication, or between food or safety.

That is not to say that I believe everyone in America is affluent. I know that hunger and poverty are an issue in this country, in my state, and in my local community, which is what makes the amazing over-consumption many Americans participate in every day all the more tragic. It is also what makes the choice to live more simply and to give back to the community so crucial to our continued existence on this planet.

The cotton farmer in India doesn’t have a choice, but we do. By buying local, by donating some of the money we don’t spend on new cars or satellite television or designer clothing for our children to charities that help those in need, by voting with intention and knowledge rather than impulse clouded by spin, we choose to use our affluence to make small changes. And the aggregate of these small changes, like the proverbial snowball, might just create the big change that we need.