“It’s small, it’s surprising, and it’s a little profane, but it’s the real thing” (p. 162). Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber uses these words to speak of the way that the reign of God breaks into the world, but they could also be used to describe her new spiritual memoir, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint. “Pastrix” is a derogatory term that some people use to refer to female pastors, but in telling her story, Nadia transforms it into a badge of honor.
Nadia’s writing is honest, straightforward, and addictive, which is ironic, because she tells the story of her own struggles with substance abuse and of questionable choices she made along her journey towards becoming an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She includes her struggles with the church of her childhood, meeting her husband on the volleyball court— “the sacred breeding grounds of tall people” (p. 43)—and growing into herself. Nadia Bolz-Weber is funny, wise, and above all, authentic.
Her story reads quickly, but stays with you for a long time. It is surprising in how wonderfully honest Nadia is about her own humanity and the places where she encounters God. Nadia’s language can be a bit profane, but it is part of her candor. Pastrix is the real thing all the way through. It is a story of pain and hope, of people and God and grace.
Nadia is both the sinner and the saint in the book’s subtitle. Simul justus et peccator, Martin Luther was fond of saying, at the same time, a saint and a sinner. This, of course, applies to Nadia, and to you and me and everyone else on the planet. And being the Lutheran that I am, I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. It’s the real thing, like Pastrix. Pastrix is likely to make you laugh in recognition, cry at how difficult things can sometimes be in this world, and feel grateful for the grace of God…and the grace of this book.
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