Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Nadia Bolz-Weber - Real live John the Baptist

photo by
 Fr Lawence Lew, O.P.
 /  flickr
I got this book for my birthday. Author's name is strange: Nadia Bolz-Weber. Stranger preacher: more tattoos than I can count, got a belt buckle in her picture bigger than my fist--looks like a wrestler's winner. Many people would see her standing in the pulpit and say: "Huh?"

The Pastor of a church in Denver that meets in a bar--told her story first in a book called Pastrix. She told about her struggles before she became a Christian. Cynicism, drug addiction, alcoholism, and promiscuity. All that is behind her, but she raises a disclaimer--she still struggles like everybody else with many things.

I see her as a female John the Baptist. John was an unlikely proclaimer, too. He dressed strange, he ate weird food, and his message laid just about everybody in the shade. That sounds a lot like Nadia.

Nadia Bolz-Weber
She ministers mostly to hard-living people. That is until the word got out and she is on the speaking circuit. So her book moved me greatly. If you are offended by cussin' then you better not buy this book. For Nadia still has a pretty bad potty mouth and the words are sprinkled throughout her book.

Yet--if you can get over this hurdle--you might hear a fresh voice.  As fresh as John the Baptist when people looked up, dropped what they were doing and listened. He also colored far outside of the lines.

 Listen to her vision of church. "...when traumatic things happen in the world and I have nowhere to place them and make sense of them but I do have a group of people who gather with me every week, people will mourn and pray with me over the devastation of something like a school shooting, and when I end up changed by loving someone I'd never choose out of a catalogue but whom God sends my way to teach me about God's love." Pretty good definition of church seems to me.

In the book she lets us meet several of her communicants--though I doubt she would ever use that word. She is Pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and many of them in her denomination do not know what to do with her. Still sounds like John the Baptist to me. She writes about her people who "inadvertently stumbled into reception like they were looking for something else at the time, people who have just a wee bit of a drinking problem and manage to get sober and help others to do the same, people who are as kind as they are hostile."

Though the term liberal seems to fit her--she defies labels. Mourning the children who died at Sandy Hook, she preached hard words about guns and gun control. And then she met this gun owner who loves guns and could not see clamping down on weapons. Nadia wanted to run away and she thought he was wrong, wrong but she listened anyway. He took her to the shooting range--against her better judgment-- and taught her something she never had done--how to shoot a gun. She found it was fun. She didn't really change her opinions about gun control but she listened and understood some of the strong feelings of gun owners--and she made a friend.

The book's title, Accidental Saints tells us that "all the saints I have known have been accidental ones..." And then she draws the circle very large and says that out there are a whole lot more "saints" than we realize. Most of these folks would get the heebie jeebies if you called them saints. Nadia will give you much to think about if you dare to read her book. Sounds like John the Baptist to me!

--Roger Lovette /

1 comment:

  1. I had read about Nadia Bolz-Weber before, and I agree with your premise, Roger. She is ministering to and for the whores and tax collectors, the poor and the cast away, the broken and the recovering. Thanks for reminding me about her. I have a new book I've got to read!