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Posts tagged "Nadia Bolz-Weber"

Another Week Ends: Toxic Positivity, Justin Townes Earle, Boredom, College Reopening Disasters, and Unsolicited Advice

1. Kicking off this week’s review is a fantastic reflection in the Wall Street Journal by Mike Kerrigan: “A Late Bloomer Learns to Forgive.” A lawyer by occupation, Kerrigan speaks of his long-standing, uncomfortable relationship with forgiveness: In his autobiographical “Confessions,” St. Augustine of Hippo, whose Feast Day is celebrated Friday, admits praying as a […]

Another Week Ends: Sincerity, Repentance, Beatitudes, Michelin Stars, Hard Leisure, and Hard-Won Tribalism

1. Mark Galli is at his best in his article, “Whatever Became of Repentance?” In a time riddled with righteous anger and categorical division on almost every level, it makes sense how the 500-year anniversary could be co-opted as a central reminder of the power of the Reformer and the Protest. Galli points the conversation […]

Another Week Ends: Chuck Berry, Preachy Ads, Yik Yak Help, Optimist Empathy, Missing Richard Simmons, and the Relentless Gig Economy

1. If you, too, have wondered where all the moral messaging has been coming from in advertisements—whether it’s Amazon, Barbie, Budweiser, or 84 Lumber—why all those Super Bowl ads were so heavily imbued with political and philosophical truisms, well, you’re not alone. This week, Megan Garber of The Atlantic wrote an article called “Selling What […]

You Gotta Tip on the Tightrope (Between the Ideal and the Actual)

For magic to come through in the performance of a tightrope dancer, he or she requires some amount of tension in their rope, and then to step out off the platform. Tension is defined as: the act of stretching or straining. I recently had the opportunity to hear Nadia Bolz-Weber speak at the Festival of […]

Another Week Ends: Turklean Empathy, OK GO, The Cursed Child, Religious Skepticism, Couples Fooling Themselves, and Hail, Caesar!

Click here for the accompanying episode of The Mockingcast, featuring JR Rozko, Aaron Zimmerman and EKR. Sherry Turkle, at it again, people. In The New York Review of Books, Jacob Weisberg samples a troop of tech-related books released this year, one of which is Sherry Turkle’s new one, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in […]

Including That One: The Absolution of a Halitosis Hater

A stop-you-in-your-tracks story of grace from the first chapter of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s new book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, involving her dealings with a rather hapless newcomer to House of All Sinner and Saints. There are a lot of wonderful stories in the book, but this may be my favorite, for no other reason […]

Another Week Ends: St. Paul’s Gift, Princeton’s Fifth Quintile, Biden’s Kierkegaard, Russia’s Soul, Pixar’s SadLab, and the Peak of Television

1) After the seriously powerful interview Colbert conducted with Vice President Joe Biden, Quartz did a closer look on the guiding philosophy that helped Biden endure the loss of his son Beau. If you’ve not watched the interview, well, go ahead and do that, but Biden describes a note that his wife left him on […]

A Review of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

If Robert Farrar Capon and Joan Jett had a love child, I’m pretty sure she’d be something like Nadia Bolz-Weber. If you somehow haven’t heard of NBW yet, she’s the founding pastor of an Evangelical Lutheran Church called the House For All Saints and Sinners in Denver, Colorado. And she is bringing an entirely new […]

Another Week Ends: More Paglia, More Brooks, Plus Bullies, Hipsters, Tattoos, and To-Dos

1) A provocative new study from The National Post sheds some new light on contemporary understandings of bullying in schools and beyond. The focus of the conversation stems from the (argued) misconception that bullies are socially maladapted, due to some underlying issues at home. The role of schools, then, is to combat these tendencies with […]

Another Week Ends: The Purity Witchhunt, March Madness, Punitive Gods, Better Call Saul, The TED Testament and Forgiving Racists

1) “Purity” talk is not just for the Evangelicals, it would seem. Despite the characterization of purity rings and abstinence devotionals and root beer pong, Richard Beck at Experimental Theology points to the moral fixation implicit in progressive Christians like himself, too. It’s not a difference in value, it’s merely a difference in where the […]

Nadia Bolz-Weber Pawns Off Narcissism as a Virtue

2015 NYC Conference speaker Nadia Bolz-Weber‘s book, Pastrix, is a curious beast: self-deprecating memoir, accidental handbook for church planters, compendium of dark comedy, and loads of inspiration, though not (remotely) the Hallmark variety. Among the many excerpt-worthy passages, one about darkness, light, and self-deception stood out to me. As backstory here, Candace was a fellow alcoholic, though less of a recovering one, whom Nadia tried to support for a while, before her sister accused her of  imprudently squandering her emotional energy just to maintain her idea of herself as a loyal friend:


Years later, after I had started House for All Sinners and Saints, I thought of Candace when I was writing a sermon about when Jesus goes on and on about how we really actually like darkness more than light because, let’s face it, the darkness hides our bullshit. (Revised Nadia Version.) I thought of all the time I spent trying to be good and all the time she spent trying to pretend she wasn’t high and how perfectly matched all our crap was. And all it took was my sister speaking the truth about it for light to come in and scatter the darkness. I thought about how, just like Candace, when I want desperately for something about myself to be hidden, for it to stay in the darkness, I am really good at lying. And if I can go an extra step and make it look like I’m actually being good – if I can pawn off narcissism as a virtue – then I win. Like when I am just sick of giving a shit about other people and want to be selfish so I call my two days of watching Netflix and getting mani-pedis ‘self-care.’ Or when I say I’m on ‘a cleanse’ so no one knows I’m really on a diet.

The list goes on, and the last thing I want is for any light to be cast on the darkness that I’ve spent so much energy curating, protecting, enjoying. But it’s not a cleanse. It’s a diet. It’s not about my health, it’s about my vanity.

There’s a popular misconception that religion, Christianity specifically, is about knowing the difference between good and evil so that we can choose the good. But being good has never set me free the way the truth has…

Very often I will avoid the truth until my face goes red like a toddler avoiding her nap; until limp limbed, she finally stops flailing and falls asleep and receives rest – the very thing she needs and the very thing she fights. When someone like me, who will go to superhero lengths to avoid the truth, runs out of options – when I am found out or too exhausted to pretend anymore or maybe just confronted by my sister – it feels like the truth might crush me. And that is right. The truth does crush us, but the instant it crushes us, it somehow puts us back together into something honest. It’s death and resurrection every time it happens.

Why Ash Wednesday Is Nadia’s Favorite Day of the Church Year

A couple years ago our Spring Conference speaker Nadia Bolz-Weber posted a couple reflections on why she loves Ash Wednesday and Lent. Every year since I’ve found myself ripping her off. To wit:

AmRzkRlCMAAFt0UAsh Wednesday is my favorite day of the church year and Lent is my favorite season. Our culture has quite ruined Christmas and Easter with Santa and the Easter bunny and all the grotesque consumerism and made for TV specials behind all of it. But oddly nobody waits every year to watch the Ash Wednesday Peanuts Special. There are no Doorbuster sales at 4am on the first day of Lent. There are no big garish displays in the middle of Cherry Creek Mall with mechanical Children in sack cloth and ashes. Nope. We get this one all to ourselves. Our culture has no idea what to do with a day that celebrates the fact that we all sin and are going to die…

I love to talk about sin, which makes little sense to people who want to label me as a liberal. I think perhaps that actual liberals equate admitting we are sinful with having low self esteem. And then the conservatives equate sin with immorality… So one end of the church tells us that sin is an antiquated notion that only makes us feel bad about ourselves so we should avoid mentioning it at all. While the other end of the church tells us that sin is the same as immorality and totally avoidable if you are just a good squeaky clean Christian.

But when sin is boiled down to low self esteem and immorality then it becomes something we can control or limit in some way rather than something we are bondage to. The reality is that I cannot free myself from the bondage of self. I cannot keep from being turned in on self. I cannot by my own understanding or effort disentangle myself from my self interest and when I think that I can… I am trying to do what is only God’s to do…

There’s no shame in the truth that our lives on earth will all end and that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. It’s not depressing. What’s depressing is the desperation of trying to pretend otherwise. What’s depressing is to insist that I can free myself I just haven’t managed to pull it off yet. What is so wonderful about Ash Wednesday and Lent is that through being marked with the cross and reminded of our own mortality we are free. We are free to hear the song of our own salvation which tells of Christ who offers life and forgiveness.