Review: "Pastrix" by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I encountered the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber when I started blogging at "Postings from Prairie Hill" about 6 years ago and she was writing on a Typepad site. What I admired about her then, is what I still admire and shows up in her new spiritual memoir, Pastrix (Jericho Books, 2013).

Pastor Nadia does not put on a false front -- you get Nadia, 100%, in every encounter. Authenticity pervades her ministry -- whether online, in print, or (I would expect) in person. Pastrix is quite simply the most heartbreakingly, joyfully honest book I have read in a very long time. I can't remember the last time a book evoked as much raw emotion from me as Pastrix has. I laughed and cried throughout this book. It is beautiful.

And, you probably should not buy this book, especially if you:
  • think Christians should have it all pulled together, know all the answers, and never seem flawed. 
  • think the F-word is extremely offensive. (No really, make no mistake. Nadia curses with frequency, creativity, and conviction). 
  • use the word "liberal" as an insult.
  • are offended by the idea that God might invite gay and lesbian people fully into the life of the church.
  • think Christians ought to most resemble June and Ward Cleaver. 
  • have a perfect life, never have any doubts, and are suspicious of anyone who is not the same.
I mean this in all honesty; Pastrix is probably not for everyone. In fact, I know lots of good, church-going people who will be angry about this book, who will not like this book, and (if they read it) will be outraged at everything that Nadia's ministry represents. 

I wish that were not the case. I wish we could hear. I wish we were not so caught up in comfortable cultural norms that prevent us from hearing the Good News of God's love in ways that speak loudest to those on the outside. I wish we could see more clearly how Jesus loved and welcomed misfits and troublemakers, and would do the same in our lives.

But, I think it's okay that not everyone will enjoy or "like" this book. Pastor Nadia's ministry at House for All Sinners and Saints has never been about adhering to a traditional model of church. It has been a community for people who don't fit in anywhere else, who are not always welcomed into more traditional churches.

So maybe this book is for you, especially if you:
  • have ever been hurt by people who say "Everyone is Welcome" but don't really mean it. 
  • struggle with your failures and flaws and shortcomings.
  • consider yourself a person of faith, or maybe a person considering faith, but you are wary of the church. 
  • want -- or need -- a God who is all about second chances.
  • If you are looking for the Shepherd who will come into the dark and broken places of life, this book is for you. 
At the end of the day, Pastrix is not a book about Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. Pastrix is a memoir of grace -- and not grace that is polished and cleaned up so that it can be put on a shelf and admired.

Pastrix is not about grace "in theory." Pastor Nadia's story, her friends' stories, and stories of members at House for All Sinners and Saints reveal gritty, real grace. A story of grace that shows up at rock bottom, in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, in the broken places of life. A story of grace that does not wait for us to become good or perfect or nice, that does not wait for us come to church, but instead comes and finds us where we are. 

Pastrix is a book that I will read over and over again, because I need to be reminded of who I am, and reminded that God does not give up on any of us.

(Order Pastrix on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or support local booksellers and purchase it in a brick and mortar store)