Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint Nadia Bolz-Weber
New York: Jericho Books, 2014.
This books gets high marks on both emotional response and scholarly response because I enjoyed reading it and this book made me think. Deep theological conceptions like grace, forgiveness, loving our enemies, and resurrections, are explored through the lives of people who “good Christians” might not want to see on Sunday mornings.
Each chapter begins with a Scripture reading that grounds and focuses the story or stories presented in that chapter. It like reading stories and reading a sermon at the same time. In this book, we are free to question with Bolz-Weber and wonder how to make sense of it all. We are free to admit that we don’t have all the answers, and we mess up often. We are free to see ourselves in these stories. And we are encouraged to keep seeking God, to keep looking for the good in others, and to keep reminding ourselves that we are God’s beloved children.
I know that some people will not be able to read this book because of the language used. Instead of being offended by her language, I’m wondering if you might be able to see it as a dialect or her chosen way of speaking. So who should read this book-anyone who has questions about faith, anyone who wonders where God is acting in the world today, anyone who has ever wondered if he or she is a beloved child of God…if any of those questions have ever run through your mind, you need to read this book to be reminded that many of God’s best stories start with nothing and God can transform the nothing that you are able to bring into something wonderful.
“It’s (the Christian faith) about how God continues to reach into the graves we dig for ourselves and pull us out, giving us new life, in ways both dramatic and small” (XVIII).
“I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand and contrive. Otherwise it can feel like I am worshiping nothing more than my own ability to understand the divine”(15-16).
“I had been that person on several occasions, lying spiritually bleeding on the ground, while the nice, well-meaning and concerned Christians stood above me and smiled in condescension, so pleased with themselves that they had spoken the truth in love” (38-39).
“God’s grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word” (49-50).
“Every human community will disappoint us, regardless of how well-intentioned or inclusive. But I am totally idealistic about God’s redeeming work in my life and in the world” (54).
“Nothing is God’s favorite material to work with” (106).
“Some weeks are easier than others for preachers. I assume the same must be true for teachers and garbage collectors and exotic dancers” (114).
“This is the ambiguity of our fragile, messy human existence. I long for black and white, I really do, but that’s not how I experience the world. I continue to learn over and over again, that there are often more than just two possible labels for things” (117).
“This is our God. Not a distant judge nor a sadist, but a God who weeps. A God who suffers, not only for us, but with us. Nowhere is the presence of God amidst suffering more salient than on the cross. Therefore what can I do but confess that this is not a God who causes suffering. This is a God who bears suffering. I need to believe. God does not initiate suffering; God transforms it” (128).
“It’s always God’s first move. Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own” (138-139).
“Maybe demons are defined as anything other than God that tells us who we are” (139).
“So if God’s first move is to give us our identity, then the devil’s first move is to throw that identity into question” (139).
“The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up” (198).
“Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we can stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrections, we are made new” (201).