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Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint Paperback – September 2, 2014
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Bolz-Weber, the Lutheran pastor of Denver’s House for All Sinners and Saints, takes readers on the engaging and accessible journey with those she meets in bars, church conferences, at her local diner, and through breaking news of such events as Hurricane Katrina. As a recovered alcoholic and heavily tattooed with the story of her own foibles and faith, Bolz-Weber is clear-eyed about the personal travails faced by the marginalized and those without faith. Each chapter combines her own painful insights as well as celebratory descriptions of how she learns to overcome spiritual roadblocks. Consequently, the collection offers an excellent opportunity for readers who doubt in themselves, in God, and in their fellow humans to reconsider how their own closed minds may be the one thing they need to change for a better, more stable outlook. A fine and useful meditation on the constant need to doubt, accept, and grow spiritually. --Francisca Goldsmith --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Engaging and accessible...Bolz-Weber is clear-eyed about the personal travails faced by the marginalized and those without faith."―Booklist
"Bolz-Weber has such a distinctive voice and outlook, it's amazing she hasn't written more books. Perhaps it's because she's been too busy living the checkered and fascinating life that is the subject of her theological memoir.... Here's hoping her authentic voice continues to preach in more books."―Publishers Weekly
"The amazing thing about Nadia Bolz-Weber is that she manages to take her Christianity into corners of life where the church can be pretty uncomfortable going."
―The Daily Beast
"Bolz-Weber is a surprisingly vulnerable narrator who pairs personal confessions with beautifully articulated statements of faith."
"This is an astonishing book...contagious, honest, captivating...a rare gift...I realize that I'm gushing, but that's what you do when a book inspires and moves and touches you like this one does."―Rob Bell, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins
"For anyone who is Christian, interested in Christianity, anti-Christian (or anti-Religion), I recommend this book."―Gordon Gano, lead singer, Violent Femmes
"Nadia Bolz-Weber is what you'd get if you mixed the DNA of Louis C.K., Joey Ramone and St. Paul. She is by far my favorite tatted-up, cranky pastor ever. Follow her. Not just on Twitter, but wherever her unique mind takes you. What I'm trying to say is: Buy this book."―A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
"Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber speaks the truth of our humanity that we too often want to deny. She declares the radical power of God's grace for Jesus' sake that we so often water down rather than daily be drowned in it. Yes, read at your own risk."―Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, ELCA
"Funny, raw, and packed with truth, this book is offensive in all the right ways...This book reminded me of why I am a Christian, and I wept with gratitude when I finished it."―Rachel Held Evans, blogger, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood
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I don't love memoir. Everyone thinks their own lives are super-interesting just like everyone thinks they're a better than average driver - at least half of us are wrong. There is also a tendency in Christian memoir especially to extract forced lessons from every story as if life was just a series of Aesop's fables and we were all gurus draining experience of the last drop of wisdom. I call bull.
This Lutheran rock-star from Denver completely avoids the boredom trap, and mostly avoids the sappy life-lessons trap and turns out a memoir that is really fun to read. It helps that she has led a genuinely unusual life and she spills her guts ruthlessly throughout. Lots of reviewers will caution that she indulges adult language, but I commend it to your for that reason. Here is raw and beautiful humanity. You don't fall in love with Bolz-Weber in spite of her volatile personality, you fall in love with her because of it.
The abiding theme of the book is defiance. Her defiance matures over the course of the story, wisely told in thematic rather than chronological order. At the beginning she is all tooth and nail. At the end she is folded arms and a "bring it on" stare. Her journey is about accepting that she does indeed have the right to inhabit her calling, not (again) in spite of who she is, but because of who she is.
Another strength of Pastrix is that she accomplishes her story of self-affirmation without denigrating people on different paths. This is no conventional "I was a sinner - now I am saved" plotline. She experiments with Wicca and never repents for it. She freely admits the fun she had with alcohol and sex, and while she is now sober and married with kids, she doesn't waste your time with self-recrimination and moralizing.
Not every chapter is equally strong and there are times where I felt she tied her stories up just a little too neatly for my tastes. She has a preacher's instinct for trying to draw the gospel out of any text, including the text of her own life. The better chapters, such as the one where she tells the story of trying to help a family after Hurricane Katrina, end messy. She can see what the gospel might be in the circumstances, but she owns her internal conflict and leaves the reader feeling that the end of the story simply hasn't been written yet.
That anyone would doubt Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber's calling is astonishing to me, but if you have been made to doubt your own calling hopefully you will read this book and receive a double portion of her defiant spirit. At the very least you will be entertained.
My heart ached for them. They want to know our risen Savior, but instead of churches welcoming them into their own brokenness, churches stomp on them and piously claim that God hates homosexuality more than any other sin. (No one has been able to give me the Biblical reference on that...)
Intrigued by Nadia, I bought this book. But I put off reading it for a very long time because of some of the reviews that demonize her. Yet, after my encounter with the two young (married) ladies this week, I opened it.
I read, I hurt with Nadia and her congregants, I understood how broken they (we) all are, I wept, and I was chastised by God for the way that I, too, have focused on categorizing people than loving them.
But look at the genealogy of Jesus. It contains a prostitute from Jericho and a foreign woman who skulked in dark corners with a man to capture his hand in marriage. And as Nadia shares, Jesus first revealed his risen self to a woman who had her own share of brokenness.
God speaks to us in truth, but sometimes he uses a 2x4 to fully capture our attention. Nadia's book was the 2x4 I needed this week.
I strongly recommend you read this book, then spend time on your knees to know his heart and his love for his people.