Friday, January 16, 2015

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

My husband and I love to listen to NPR in the car with our kids. We subscribe to Living on Earth and On Being as podcasts so that we can listen with the kids while we drive to doctor appointments or while geocaching. We were recently caching up on an episode where Krista Tippet interviews Nadia Bolz-Weber. After listening to Pastorix Bolz-Weber's interview, I had to read her book. Here's the cover and the Goodreads blurb:

Foul-mouthed and heavily tattooed, former standup comic-turned-Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber weaves hilarious rants and stunning theological insight into her personal narrative of a flawed, beautiful, and unlikely life of faith.

Bizarre, rich, and remarkable, PASTRIX turns spiritual memoir on its ear in a sardonically irreverent and beautifully honest page-turner that readers will never forget. Nadia Bolz-Weber takes no prisoners as she reclaims the term pastrix (a negative term used by some Christians who refuse to recognize women as pastors) in this wildly entertaining and deeply resonant memoir about an outrageous, unlikely life of faith. From a commune of haggard-but-hopeful slackers to the wobbly chairs and war stories of Alcoholic Anonymous, from a funeral in a smoky downtown comedy club to an unexpected revelation during the Haitian stations of the cross, PASTRIX is a journey of cranky spirituality that intersects religion with real life, weaving incredible narrative, hilarious rants, and poignant honesty to portray a life deeply flawed and deeply faithful-giving hope to the rest of us.

I found this book to be amazing and life changing. Oddly, the most important message that I received from this book was not about faith but about health. Pastrix Bolz-Weber talks about her four year battle with Grave's Disease. When I was 14, I began eating like crazy, acting insane, feeling insane, and I ended up only ever getting any kind of diagnosis after I ended up with a goiter. Thankfully, the goiter was the worst of my visible symptoms. The pastrix actually ended up with bulging eyes that kept her from sleeping comfortably. But I was never told what Graves Disease could (and DID) do to me. Pastrix Nadia's story of her illness made me realize just how much of my teenage years while I suffered with Graves Disease were not "just teenage nonsense" as my mom and the legion of psychologists that she hired described it. I always wondered why I never again had any signs of Bipolar Depression after I was cured of the Graves Disease. It was liberating to learn that most of the emotional and mental symptoms that I exhibited in my early teens were all symptoms of Graves Disease. It has been life changing, learning that. But to the meat of Pastrix Nadia's book, I loved her message that even she has trouble listening to God and being all that she thinks she should be AND THAT IS OKAY! I disagree with her on the need to include the traditional to keep the modern practice honest. My trouble with the traditional is that it always feels like we're just checking off a list. Liturgy. Check. Gloria Patri. Check. Lord's Prayer. Check. I am in a weird place because I liked the uplifting music and short "checklist" format of the church that my husband grew up in but their narrow minded behaviors don't mesh with our understanding of God and faith. (Also, I hated that they did their communion by intinction. Lots of bread crumbs floating in a cup of grape juice- so gross!) But our current church, the one that I was raised in, is more in line with our beliefs but the service is the same traditional service that I first experienced in the 1980's. I think that the best take away from Pastrix Nadia's book is that she is not perfect so we shouldn't be worried about being perfect either BECAUSE WE AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE! What an epiphany! I think that anyone could benefit from reading this book if they can just listen to her words and take them to heart. I tore through this book in one day because I just felt like she was speaking just to me. I loved this book! Thank you Krista Tippett for sharing it with us!

You can find Pastrix Nadia Bolz-Weber on her website, Facebook and on Twitter. You can also click here to add this book to your Goodreads. You can click here to find the episode of On Being that inspired me to read this book. I give Pastrix 5 Fairies for a book that was life changing for me.

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