Episode 149: Nadia Bolz-Weber

On choosing the corners, the complexities of the grief we carry, a few things we don’t typically say, and meeting ourselves as we are now.

In this episode, we use a touch of profanity, and we cover:

  • 0:00 Grief, guilt and human nature
  • 8:00 Being sufficiently suspicious of ourselves and how that relates to hope
  • 10:00 The gift of being knocked on one’s ass
  • 12:00 The most powerful aspect of 12-step work: rigorous honesty
  • 14:00 The prayer after Roe v. Wade; I was born a woman.
  • 16:40 Nadia’s writing inspirations
  • 17:30 On preaching to herself, and letting others overhear it; the most honest offering
  • 20:00 Taking the time to sit, listen and write what’s true, without trying to be useful
  • 23:00 Nadia’s trajectory (read her book Pastrix when you get a chance)
  • 24:30 Ego will screw us over at any opportunity “There’s no business class in my apartment”
  • 25:00 Meeting ourselves as we are, now
  • 27:00 We are wired to heal from trauma
  • 29:00 Nadia’s concise answer to my question about all the variations of Christianity

Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran Pastor, founder of House for All Sinners & Saints in Denver, Co, the creator and host of The Confessional Podcast and the author of three NYT bestselling memoirs: Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith Of A Sinner & Saint (Re-released 2021), Accidental Saints; Finding God In All The Wrong People (2015) and SHAMELESS; A Sexual Reformation (2019).

She writes and speaks about personal failings, recovery, grace, faith, and really whatever the hell else she wants to. Read more from Nadia in The Corners.

Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ordained Lutheran Pastor, founder of House for All Sinners & Saints in Denver, Co, the creator and host of The Confessional Podcast and the author of three NYT bestselling memoirs: Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith Of A Sinner & Saint (Re-released 2021), Accidental Saints; Finding God In All The Wrong People (2015) and SHAMELESS; A Sexual Reformation (2019).

She writes and speaks about personal failings, recovery, grace, faith, and really whatever the hell else she wants to. Read more from Nadia in The Corners.

Nadia’s Substack: https://thecorners.substack.com

“I write and speak about my personal failings, addiction, grace, faith, and really whatever the hell else I want to. I always sit in the corner with the other weirdos. It may feel as though some of us have been relegated to the corners, but here’s the thing: from the corners, I can see the whole room. I love the corners. I always have. It is where I will always choose to sit, because I love outcasts, queers and the girls who talk too loud. I love humor that comes out of lives that have not been easy. I love sober drunks, single dads, sex workers and the guy who lost a leg in the war. These are my people.

So here’s what I hope: that what is posted here is water, God willing, for those planted in the corners.” -Nadia

From a recent sermon in the women’s prison, on All Saints Day…

“I mean, in the Lutheran tradition saints aren’t a special category of people who happen to be the opposite of sinners, in the Lutheran tradition saints are just regular sinners who happen to be forgiven.
That’s all of us, by the way…

But the thing I wanted to talk about today is how some grief is more complicated than others.

Like – it’s difficult to grieve a parent you loved but who was also a terrible mother.

And it’d difficult to grieve someone who we still carry guilt over not treating as well as we could have.

Or to grieve a friend who for sure slept with your man. (note to readers: this line may not have flown in a traditional church setting but it got an applause break in the women’s prison!)

It’s unavoidable that at some point the fabric of our hearts will snag on the rough side of other people. And it can make grief pretty swirly and not so basic.

And the rougher parts of us will snag the hearts of those we love and even when we don’t mean to, we may hurt them.

And when we die the grief they feel will be complicated too.”

A Prayer for Sunday June 26th, 2022, just after Roe v. Wade was overturned:

Dear God,

The world has sought endlessly to quiet, hem in, shame and control this body, nevertheless, I persist in praising you that I was born a woman.

And I thank you for the generations of other women whose well of wisdom, and defiance, and beauty, and creativity I have drunk from; the waters of which have sustained me and set my shoulders back.

Thank you for our ancestors in the faith who knew their dignity originated in you and not in the whims of those who sought to dominate them. Help me draw not upon the power of doom-scrolling but upon the power of Mary’s song, and Jael’s hammer, and Shiphrah & Puah’s sneakiness, the Syrophoenician woman’s sass.

Thank you for the anger surging through this body that has conceived three and birthed two.
Bless that anger, God, and direct it.
And if there is any left over, let it not destroy me or those I love, but burn it off with the heat of pleasure, and desire.
And if the road ahead is long, Lord – and I fear it will be,
may there be belly laughing
may there be mutual consolation
may there be rest
may there be song
and I am serious about this one, God –
may there be snacks.
For this and that for I have no words – I thank you.
May these prayers of gratitude turn my fear into faith and my rage into purpose.
Amen.

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