Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

Amazing Grace

Kathleen Norris

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In many ways, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith is a direct sequel to Norris’s earlier work, The Cloister Walk, but in just as many ways it stands alone.

Where the first book was a series of essays based on the experience of studying the Liturgy of the Hours with the Benedictines, this work is more of a lexicon in essay format. Each section ranges from half a page to several pages in length, and each focuses on a different word often encountered in the Bible and other religious venues. And each is interpreted, personally, by the author.

I read this book slowly, during the last few weeks of confirmation class, and it, more than anything, helped me to understand what we were discussing in the weekly sessions that I dubbed “Episcopalianism 101.” The choice to read this was mine – I saw it while shopping for something entirely different, had really enjoyed the author’s other work, and took it home. That it ended up being the perfect companion during these past few weeks was largely circumstantial.

It’s not light reading, though, I confess, as with everything I read, large chunks of it were bathroom reading. It requires reflection, and some degree of introspection. But Norris is so accessible that I have to recommend it, especially to women who are exploring Christianity.