Amazing Grace

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Kathleen Norris has written three books about her personal journey of faith. DAKOTA: A SPIRITUAL GEOGRAPHY (1992) described her move from New York City to a small town in South Dakota, where she began to rediscover her religious roots from attending her grandmother’s church. In her quest to develop a mature faith, she made several extended visits to a Benedictine monastery. She described the experience of living in a community of monks and nuns in THE CLOISTER WALK (1996). This book received highly favorable reviews from literary critics and was on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list for four months. AMAZING GRACE: A VOCABULARY OF FAITH is the third book in this series by Norris. It contains some eighty short essays, meditations, anecdotes, and historical vignettes. She believes that words like salvation, grace, evangelism, or trinity can be stumbling blocks for people when they attend a church service. She wants to share her personal insights into the sometimes forbidding vocabulary of religion.

For some twenty years, Norris lived a secular lifestyle as a writer and poet, with no need or desire to be connected with the church. She has since returned to her religious heritage, but with a new-found, mature understanding. Her special ministry seems to be to help people who are trying to find their way back to a closer relationship with God. Her story will be of particular interest to seminary students, pastors, and adult Sunday school classes, to stimulate an open discussion of sensitive topics among people with diverse religious backgrounds. Her theological reflections will appeal to many readers because they are based not on abstract, theological arguments, but on genuine experiences of religious insight in everyday living.

Sources for Further Study

America. CLXXIX, August 1, 1998, p. 24.

Booklist. XCIV, February 1, 1998, p. 875.

Chicago Tribune. XIV, July 5, 1998, p. 2.

The Christian Century. CXV, June 3, 1998, p. 584.

Elle. March, 1998, p. 152.

The New York Times Book Review. CIII, April 5, 1998, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, February 9, 1998, p. 92.

San Francisco Chronicle. March 29, 1998, p. REV5.

The Times Literary Supplement. August 14, 1998, p. 32.

Women’s Review of Books. XVI, October, 1998, p. 17.