Review: Pastrix

September 9th, 2013

Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints. She’s a leading voice in the emerging church movement and her writing can be found in The Christian Century and Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics blog. She is author of Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television and the Sarcastic Lutheran blog.

I'll start by admitting I've never written a book review. I'll also say that I don't always finish reading books, not because I’m a book snob but because I get bored, easily distracted, and I read very slowly.

In Pastrix, Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber's story of telling her parents about her call to be a pastor is one of my favorite parts (see excerpt below). I read it out loud at dinner to my eighty-two-year old mother, and then I cried. I don’t cry. Now that I've finished Pastrix: The Cranky Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, Mom can read it for herself. I both laughed and teared up through the entire book. It’s that good, and

I think this book should be required reading for seminary.

I wish I could have read and discussed this book in seminary. She uses colorful language (just scratch it out). So I'm not sure about kids reading it, but then I don't have any. But if I had kids I'd want to talk to them about Bolz-Weber’s life, her call to ministry, and God’s grace.

Here are three reasons why I think the book should be required reading in seminary
and perhaps adult Sunday school and maybe senior high youth group

  1. Use the book to discuss the call to ministry and allow people to share where God might be calling them. And if some express that they don't feel worthy, remind them that it ain't about them feeling worthy.
  2. She talks honestly about her flubs, and because she did I was reminded of my own. THAT is always a good thing for those of us who have letters in front of, and behind our names. She reminds us what it means to be a real person who happens to be in ministry.
  3. She shares stories of ministry that show us just how human she is—stories that she could have easily left out of the book.

And if the three reasons above don't convince you. Read her book so you can understand the tidbits of wisdom she doles out with almost comedic timing, like:

• personality transplants
• passing the peace and other liturgical stuff that some people don't think are important anymore, along with
• assigned lectionary texts that by coincidence occur at awkward times of the year
• Jesus showing up just when we want him to politely keep out of our business
• Rally Day and “Operation: Turkey Sandwiches”
• wrinkled vestments and clergy collars
• “whole new shiny-but-messy lives”
• the danger of visitors in Dockers® diluting our church
• dealing with liars
• truth-telling and repentance
• open space in worship
• being "a person for a living" and
• Easter guest towels

Bolz-Weber is the kind of pastor you feel comfortable telling your deepest, darkest secrets to and then feel so darn thankful—thankful that she really heard you and she didn't check out halfway through your confession thinking what a mess you are.

She uses colorful language. Her stories are intense. But that's real world and right where the church is. But if you can't get past the cover photo or some of the language, you'll miss her deep pastor’s heart and the wise words she shares on who we all are as sinners and saints.

Watch Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking to a Lutheran Youth Convention (20 min.)
Follow Nadia on twitter


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