Published: September 10, 2013
Genre: Christianity / Memoir
Source: Personal Copy / Kindle
Recommended for readers strong in their own faith and who are interested in one woman's story.
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 had been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it. Unfortunately, my library is not carrying it and, finally, I broke down and ordered a Kindle copy and started reading it as soon as it landed on my device. Now, that I'm finished, I have a jumble of thoughts about this book.
Let me start with the positive. Nadia Bolz-Weber has an incredible story to tell--and it is a fun one to read. As a former stand-up comic, her sense of humor shines through and her prose is addictive. She does, however, talk like a drunken sailor at times. This is not a criticism, and it didn't bother me--but I would not recommend this book to anyone who has a low tolerance for profanity.
I admire what Bolz-Weber and her congregation are doing. True inclusiveness is hard to find--and Bolz-Weber may not have fully succeeded on that point, but she and her church are closer than most. Oh, and "Operation Turkey Sandwich" is outright genius! I really admire her ability to accept those that other churches would reject and I think that we could all take a lesson from her.
Here's the thing...as accepting as Bolz-Weber is of some groups, she is equally not accepting of other groups. She makes no secret of the fact that she thinks that anyone who does not believe as she does is just wrong. For all her tolerance, she can be very intolerant. She almost lost me when she started on a tirade against the LCMS (I've attended both ELCA and LCMS churches and my current church is LCMS. In my experience, I've seen very little difference between the two other than the ordination of women, which I support although I understand why the LCMS does not). Whenever she is given a chance, she will make a dig at a group that she considers beneath her.
To be fair, it says right in the title that she's cranky. And in one of the last chapters, she confronts the fact that she was not comfortable with the "wrong element" (clean-cut professionals) in her church. But many times she writes with I would consider hatred from a point of authority and it undermines many of the positive aspects of her message.
So, where did this book ultimately put me? Well, I'm glad I read it and I enjoyed at least a majority of it. I would not recommend it nilly-willy. For one thing, it is not for the easily offended. I think it is also not for someone who is not familiar with Christianity as I'm afraid that her views would be taken as "gospel truth." However, for those who don't fall into those groups and who are discerning enough to separate her message from her language, I would recommend Pastrix.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.