Nadia in Richmond

At Richmond Uniting we have a pattern of reading books together and discussing them. We reflect together on what surprises us in our reading, what we disagree with, what resonates for us, what challenges us and what this book might mean for our own faltering attempts at living as followers of Jesus, both personally and as a community.

In recent times we have read Sara Miles’ book Take this Bread and Rowan Williams’ (former Archbishop of Canterbury) book Being Christian.  Reading these books has provoked us to think differently, and to do things differently, in our being church together.

Right now we are reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book Pastrix: The Cranky Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint. Even though we have only started reading this book, at church last Sunday three people from our congregation told me that they had already finished the book, and two of them had begun reading it again.

This is a book written with breathtaking honesty, by a thinking priest who never expected to become a priest.  She tackles questions head on about life and faith and doubt and what it might mean to be disciples of Jesus and – importantly – what this does not mean.  It is deeply refreshing.

Here is a just a taste:

“Getting sober never felt like I had pulled myself up by my own spiritual bootstraps.  It felt instead like I was on one path towards self destruction and God pulled me off it by the scruff of my collar, me hopelessly kicking and flailing and saying, ‘Screw you. I’ll take the destruction please.’ God looked at tiny, little red-faced me and said, ‘that’s adorable,’ and then plunked me down on an entirely different path.’ p. 40.

Nadia Bolz-Weber is spot on about so much. Just one example is her discussion of the New Testament word ‘repentance’;  that this is about turning around rather than grovelling. She states this is:

‘Not the repentance of red-faced street-corner preachers waving REPENT! signs.  No, that kind of repentance always sounded to me like Stop being bad-start being good or God is going to be an angry punishing bastard to you. This feels like more of a human threat than anything else. It never works on me. Who wants their spiritual arm twisted until they cry uncle? It’s bullying.’ … pp.192-93

I recommend this book and if you are curious to hear an interview with Nadia, take a listen to the interview on ABC’s Spirit of Things – here is the link:–lady/5779130

Blessings to you, wherever you are on your faith or doubt journey,