- The language Nadia uses in her book is going to cause problems for some people. She is raw, she is honest, she is herself. And she can express herself with colorful metaphors better than any other pastor I’ve met. For those who are sensitive to expletives, well…you’d better go read something by somebody else.
- Nadia is telling her story. And Nadia’s story is one that moves, sometimes in a single paragraph, from pain to beauty. That can be a little rugged to read. It’s the real-deal…
This book is to be read cautiously. It is not for everybody, but I wish it was.
So here’s the thing. When I picked up “Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint,” I had very mixed feelings. I’d heard Nadia Bolz-Weber speak, (including her gig at the ELCA Youth Gathering last summer, where she pretty much hit it out of the park…er…stadium…) and had heard parts of her story. And I wasn’t really in the mood to read another autobiographical story of human fall and resurrection.
Let me be clear: That is not what this book is about.
Pastrix is a book that chronicles an incomplete journey. There is no simple or easy resolution. Like all of us, Nadia lives in a condition of fall and redemption simultaneously. She writes about the journey that to one level or another we all experience. She writes about the Jesus who (though she didn’t see it and denied it) climbed into the crap with her. That’s why even though her experiences are so foreign to me (puking through my nose?) her understanding of the faith, her questions, her doubts, her wonderings all resonate with me, and with those who listen or read.
Nadia’s writing style is compelling. It mirrors her preaching.
And there is some amazing wisdom. She writes that when she meets with new members at House for All Sinners and Saints, one of the things she tells them (and this is a paraphrase) is: “It is not a matter of if, but when we are going to disappoint you. We will. I will say something…the church will make a decision…something will happen that will cause you hurt. So think now about how you will respond when that happens…because it will happen. And you don’t want to be deciding in the heat of the moment how you’ll respond.” I read that and went straight to my senior pastor and said “we need to say this to our people.” Because it’s true. It makes me wonder…if we’d had those conversations with people, if the fallout from 2009 would have been different.
This book is a story of grace and law, as two sides of the same coin. This is a book that tells Nadia’s story, but more importantly the story of God’s love working in someone’s life. This book is one I loved reading, and was sad when it was over.
I’m glad Nadia is a pastor within our church. I’m glad she’s shared her story. This is a book for the church, and the world.
At the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans last summer, something unusual happened. First, understand that the main stage program is always good. Speakers…music…video…production…it’s all done really really well. But in the years that I have been at the event, the ideas are what people walk away with. A year later, I’ll hear our young people say “remember that one speaker…the one who talked about…?” That was the case until 2012. They remember the “what,” but the don’t necessarily remember the “who.”
Enter Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber.
Young people in my congregation connected with her in a way that I hadn’t really seen before. A year later, they are still talking about Nadia, and what Nadia had to say. They remember the “what” and the “who.”
It’s not about any kind of celebrity. As a matter of fact, while Nadia is “out there” doing stuff publicly , she’s more of an ‘anti-celebrity.’ She is quick to point out that it’s about what the Spirit is doing. She said that wherever she goes, young people who saw her in New Orleans come up to talk to her. She wrote in an e-mail “It’s crazy. And really kind of awesome. Whatever happened that night at the Superdome had a broader and deeper impact than I ever could have predicted, which makes me suspect that the Spirit was involved – she’s kind of mischievous like that.”
I suspect that Nadia is right. The Holy Spirit does all sorts of things we don’t expect.
This fall, Nadia is doing a small “book tour.” Just 6 stops around the country, to speak and promote the book she recently published. I’m going to go, and I’m going to see if any of the young people who were with us in New Orleans last summer want to go. I suspect they will.
You can get more information on the book tour on its web site. You can also get the dates and basic info on the Network’s CYF master calendar. A year later, it’ll be fun to see what the Spirit continues to be up to!