Nadia Bolz-Weber: Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful, Faith of a Sinner & Saint (New York: Jericho Books, 2013)
Nadia Bolz-Weber and the church she founded in Denver are often cited as examples of the emerging church movement. She has been interviewed by Christa Tippet for her On Being program. She has appeared on the stage at the Wild Goose gathering with the likes of Phyllis Tickle. It seemed like a good idea to explore her book and hear her story from her own point of view. There is something wonderfully hopeful for me about the book, but it really isn’t that I believe that the emerging church is somehow going to be a once-in-500-years reformation of Christianity.
What struck me most about the book and about Bolz-Weber is how conventional she is. Her ideas are not somehow new and radical and different from the ideals with which we began our ministry. Her church is not somehow liturgically distant from the rest of Christianity. It seems to me that what she and her community are doing is trying to live the faith as genuinely and as sincerely as they are able - and doing so with humor and a dash of creativity.
No, I don’t think our church is likely to put a chocolate fountain in the baptismal font for the Great Vigil of Easter. But I do find it hopeful that the House for all Saints and Sinners is observing the Great Vigil of Easter. What Bolz-Weber is offering, it seems to me is Christianity that is in many ways more steeped in the traditions of the church and its biblical and historical roots than many big-box mega churches and mega-church wannabe congregations. When she speaks of the Christian faith, what she describes is the journey that the church has been on for a couple of thousand years.
The book is a good read. Her congregation would be well worth a visit. And I hope that she gets some recognition outside of mainstream Christianity. For me it is hopeful to recognize that the emergent church is more of a reaction to the negativity of fundamentalism than it is a reaction to mainline Christianity.