Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber
I doubt you'll find this book at your local Christian bookstore. And it might not be the book for you if you take offense to some of the more colorful four letter words. (The first line of the book is: “’$h!t,’ I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to be late to New Testament class.’” She is also quite fond of the F-bomb.)
But if you have struggled with some hardcore doubts about this whole God thing at some point in your life, perhaps due to suffering a major loss of some kind, death of a loved one, or physical/mental/ or emotional pain, addiction, etc... If you were given a false view of God as the opposite of love, or if you've been hurt by the church, this book is for you. It's kind of like "The Ragamuffin Gospel" on steroids, with profanity, written by a female Lutheran pastor instead of a male Franciscan priest.
I've seen Pastrix described as a theological memoir of grace. And that it is. She talks a lot about the God who meets us in our suffering. She is adamant that God doesn't cause suffering, but that he bears it on the cross. He doesn't initiate it, but He redeems & transforms it.
I'm sure that my theology does not line up 100% with Nadia's, but it doesn't have to for me to both learn from her and enjoy her book.
I like how Preston Yancey put it: "there is something holy in disagreeing with her, because you cannot escape the feeling that you both desperately want the free and generous gift of grace to overwhelm everyone with the beauty of a big, wondrous God. ...and if the Church is to do any good thing in the world today, I would hope in the least it could be this: to love with such conviction that our disagreements sound as gratuitously loving as our affirmations."
I genuinely loved this book from start to finish and was deeply moved by it. I just finished it and I already want to re-read it (and make all my friends read it!)
some quotes from Pastrix:
"Getting sober never felt like I had pulled myself up by my own spiritual bootstraps. It felt instead like I was on one path toward destruction and God pulled me off of 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."
“God’s grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word. My selfishness is not the end-all…instead, it’s that God makes beautiful things out of even my own shit. Grace isn’t about God creating humans as flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us peace—like saying, ‘Oh, it’s OK, I’ll be a good guy and forgive you.’ It’s God saying, ‘I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.” (51)
Here's where you can buy it on Amazon
Rachel Held Evans Review of Pastrix
Preston Yancey's Review of Pastrix