Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran pastor who ministers primarily to people with alternative sexual orientations, and those given to addictions of one kind or another. She grew up in a loving Christian family, and was baptized at age 12 in a Church Of Christ. Sadly, she only understood being a Christian as a list of rules of things you couldn’t do if you expected to get into heaven. Nadia grew to hate the established church. (Ironically, she admits that her home church was one of the few places where people treated her kindly in her teen years when she was diagnosed with Graves Disease, while she was teased and bullied at school and other places.)
By the time she was a legal adult, she was heavily into alcohol and moved into a drug house. Fortunately, she had the good sense to move out shortly before it was raided. Nadia became a stand-up comedian, and continued drinking. She eventually found herself in an AA meeting in a church basement, and that was the beginner of her journey back to sobriety, Jesus and the church. Nadia’s passion became helping other people find Jesus in a setting where they would feel accepted.
There were parts of this book that I loved, like the way she developed a friendship with another Christian who had vastly different doctrinal beliefs from her own. I loved her passion for helping people who felt like outsiders. I also really felt for Nadia when she was conned by someone she poured all her energy into for months, and thought she was helping.
Some parts of the book showed brilliant insights, while other parts revealed a disdain of Christians who looked “normal”. She seemed to carry a large chip on her shoulder against anyone that didn’t share her personal views on certain issues. Conservative Christians are criticized for not being accepting enough of every lifestyle, but at times the author seemed to look down on those who had read the Bible and come to different conclusions than she had.
But perhaps the most difficult part of reading this book was the profanity strewn throughout it. It really didn’t seem like she needed to keep using the “f” word. No one’s perfect, and nasty things may slip out of the mouth when someone’s angry or stressed, but does it really need to be part of her written testimony about walking with Jesus?
All in all, I’m glad I read Nadia’s story. It is a reminder that Christians come in many varieties, and have different styles of worshiping God. As far apart as we may seem to be, we are bound together by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Some day in heaven, we will understand those puzzling parts of the Bible, and be able to put aside the things that divide us here in this life. Until then, it’s up to each of us to love one another and follow Jesus as best we can.