by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Reviewer Rating:


 Nadia Bolz-Weber looks more like a tall, tough biker than most people's views of a pastor, and hearing much of her life story wouldn't change that guess. She's a sober alcoholic, a former stand-up comic, covered with tattoos, and of course a woman to boot. But in her new book, she takes us on the journey that led her back to G-d and to founding and shepherding a church, Denver's own House for All Sinners and Saints.

That journey back to G-d came from what Bolz-Weber calls the "underside." It was through her own journey to sobriety, her experiences with her "own community of underside dwellers that", she says, "I couldn't help but begin to see... the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokenness of our lives." Her theology reflects that. She talks about the Christian teachings of redemption, and of death and resurrection, from that space. For her, they're about being able to rise again from the ashes of our failures, from the complete destruction of our lives and our sense of ourselves, from losses we don't think we can bear. 

The book weaves stories of her own personal journey with those of her church, its people, and fellow pastors who are struggling in their own ways. She talks about the awfulness and the gifts life can bring us -- a friend's suicide, strangers' deaths while she was a hospital chaplain, unexpected connections with and among people at her church, honoring a transgender friend's public transition with a church ceremony, and dealing as individuals and as a community with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the massive earthquake in Haiti, and Aurora's own movie theater massacre. 

Pastrix is sometimes harsh and snarky and what some would consider irreverent. It's also very funny, honest, observant, and moving. It's clearly and definitely Christian, but it still spoke deeply to me as a person who follows another faith. This is a book about G-d and religion for anyone who's felt alienated from them, or anyone who can appreciate the ongoing spiritual struggle of a woman wrestling deeply with her faith.

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