Seekers & Skeptics, Hope's Tuesday night book discussion group, will begin discussing a new book, Pastrix, The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Bolz-Weber is pastor of House For All Sinners And Saints, an ELCA mission church in Denver, Colorado, and is a leading voice in the emerging church movement.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint Outrageous, rich, and remarkable, PASTRIX turns spiritual memoir on its ear in this sardonically irreverent and beautifully honest page-turner. Nadia Bolz-Weber takes no prisoners as she reclaims the term "pastrix" (pronounced "pas-triks," a term used by some Christians who refuse to recognize female pastors) in her messy, beautiful, prayer-and-profanity laden narrative about an unconventional life of faith.

Page xvii: The story told in this book is not chronological, but rather thematic. It's about the development of Nadia's faith, the expression of her faith, and the community of her faith.

Page xvii: "How the Christian faith, while wildly misrepresented in so much of American culture, is really about death and resurrection."

Page 9: "here in the midst of my own community of underside dwellers that I couldn't help but begin to see the Gospel, the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokeness of our lives. And having seen it, I couldn't help but point it out. For reasons I'll never quite understand, I realized that I had been called to proclaim the Gospel from the place where I am, and proclaim where I am from the Gospel."

Page 15: "I can't imagine that the God of the universe is limited to our ideas of God. .. In a way, 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 worshipping nothing more than my own ability to understand the divine."

"Unlike my feelings toward the Christian fundamentalism from which I would soon part ways, I never stopped valuing the spiritual weirdness of hospitality and community. ... I was looking for a community in which all of me would actually fit in." (Page 26)

"..the connection -- the deep, ongoing, and personal connection people like Margery had with God, a power greater than their alcoholic selves -- was in no way based on piety or righteousness. It was based solely on something I could related to a hell of a lot more: desperation." (Page 38)

"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." (Page 49)

"If they choose to leave when we don't meet their expectations, they won't get to see how the grace of God can come in and fill the holes left by our community's failure, and that's just too beautiful and too real to miss." (Page 54)

"What makes Lutherans blessed is not, as I once thought, that they're somehow different from the people in the Church of Christ where I was raised. Rather, what makes us all blessed is that, like the landowner in the parable, God comes and gets us, taps us on the shoulder, and says, 'Pay attention, this is for you.' Dumb was we are, smart and faithful as we are, just as we are." (Page 56)

"There's a popular misconception that religion, Christianity specifically, is about knowing the difference between good and evil so that we can choose the good. But being good has never set me free the way truth has. Knowing all of this makes me love and hate Jesus at the same time. Because, when instead of contrasting good and evil, he contrasted truth and evil, I have to think about all the times I've substituted being good (or appearing to be good) for truth." (Page 72)

"There is simply no knowable answer to the question of why there is suffering. But there is meaning. And for me that meaning ended up being related to Jesus -- Emmanuel -- which means, "God with us." We want to go to God for answers, but sometimes what we get is God's presence." (Page 86)

"I was, now a pastor of a GLBTQ "inclusive" congregation, and I felt revulsion at seeing an intersex person. It was humbling to say the least. And it made me face, in a very real way, the limitations of inclusion. If the quality of my Christianity lies in my ability to be more inclusive than the next pastor, things get tricky because I will always, always encounter people -- intersex people, Republicans, criminals, Ann Coulter, etc. -- whom I don't want in the tent with me. Always. I only really want to be inclusive of some kinds of people and not others." (Page 90)

"I was reminded again of the loaves and fishes. 'What do we have?' they asked. 'We have nothing. Nothing but a few loaves and a couple of fish.' And they said this as though it were a bad thing. The disciples' mistake was also my mistake: They forgot that they have a God who created the universe out of 'nothing,' that can put flesh on dry bones 'nothing,' that can put life in a dusty womb 'nothing.' I mean, let's face it, 'nothing' is God's favorite material to work with." (Page 104)

"I think loving our enemies might be too central to the Gospel -- to close to the heart of Jesus -- for it to wait until we mean it." (Page 115)

"For far too long, I believed that how the Church of Christ saw me, or how my family saw me, or how society saw me, was the same as how God saw me." (Page 138)

"Somewhere along the way I was taught that evil is fought through justice and might. ... So maybe retaliation or holding on to anger about the harm done to me doesn't actually combat evil. Maybe it feeds it." (Page 149)

"Jesus brings a kingdom ruled by the crucified one and populated by the unclean and always found in the unexpected. I'd expected to look at the past and see only mistakes that I'd moved on from, to see only damage and addiction and tragic self-delusion. But by thinking that way, I'd assumed that God was nowhere to be found back then. But that's kind of an insult to God. It's like saying, 'You only exist when I recognize you.'" (Page 162)

There are times when I hear my name, turn, and recognize Jesus. There are times when faith feels like a friendship with God. But there are many other times when it feels more adversarial or even vacant. Yet none of that matters in the end. How we feel about Jesus or how close we feel to God is meaningless next to how God acts upon us." (Page 176)

"But Russell refused to play along, 'Yeah, that sucks,' he said sarcastically. 'You guys are really good at welcoming the stranger when it's a young transgender person. But sometimes the stranger looks like your mom and dad." (Page 184)

"Repentance in Greek means something much closer to 'thinking differently afterward' than it does 'changing your cheating ways.'" (Page 192)

"Repentance, 'thinking differently afterward,' is what happens to me when the truth of who I am and the truth of who God is scatter the darkness of competing ideas. And these truths don't ever feel like they come from inside me." (Page 193)

"The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up. And Mary Magdelene is the patron saint of just showing up. Showing up, to me, means being present to what is real, what is actually happening." (Page 197)

"And it was her, a deeply faithful and deeply flawed woman, whom Jesus chose to be the first witness of his resurrection and to whom he commanded to go and tell everyone else about it." (Page 198)

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By Frank McPherson, Monday, February 24, 2014 at 8:37 PM. When in doubt, blog.