Book Review: Shameless by Nadia Bolz-Weber

In her latest book, Nadia Bolz-Weber, opens up a topic that many in the church attempt to stay clear from. While the entire basis of our life on earth is contingent upon our ability to have sex, it has often times been a taboo subject within the church. Many times the church has went to extremes to steer clear of the topic or at its worse, to speak of the evils of it.

I did not grow up in the church and therefore was not too aware of the purity movement that happened within it. I heard a few things along the way, but at that time it didn’t affect me so I did not pay too much attention. It is the purity movement that she directly addresses in the beginning of her book and bringing to the forefront the harm that is has caused over the years.

Like many of her other books, she brings in many stories from her parishioners that help support her thesis. She also speaks of the holiness of being with God and each other. As she compares the two she says that “holiness is about union with, and purity is about separation from.” I believe that it all comes down from this as we are a holy people that are called to live with union with one another.

To attempt to say what is holy and not holy of others is in direct competition with God. God has created each of holy. Every sing part of our bodies. To be with another person in being welcomed into a holy experience. There is nothing that we should be ashamed of. We should not let others make us feel any less.

There is no shame to be felt in our bodies. “God is made known: in the miracle of our infant bodies, so recently come from God that you can smell God on their heads; in the freedom of our child bodies as they were before shame and self-consciousness entered into them; in the confusion of our pubescent bodies and the excitement of our teenage bodies as they become familiar with desire; in the fire and ice of our young adult bodies as they connect with each other; in the goddamn mind-blowing magic of our baby-making bodies; in the wisdom in our aging bodies; and in the so-close-to-God-you-can-smell-God beauty of our dying bodies.” God wants us to be one with our bodies and to know them intimately as they are created in the image of God.

This is a tough message to share as we have avoided the conversation for far too long. It is about time that someone like Nadia brings it the forefront. She has also included some great resources for individuals and congregations to reach out and learn more.

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Book Review: Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber

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A no-holds barred dive into the lives of people that are truly the people of God. People that have went through their own struggles and eventually sought redemption in the church, or at least are in the process of it.

Nadia once again brings it with her frankness and sailor’s language (I am not complaining) to share God’s Good News to all people that are willing to delve into the radical love of Christ. The stories that she shares of those that she has met and mainly her parishioners speaks to the humanity and the love that God has for all people. The love that was imprinted upon them from the very beginning.

I love that she journeys through the liturgical year with her stories and each story fitting into place to mark time with the church. From her story of Saint cookies to the Dogs of Good Friday she moves your heart in only a way that you know God is in the midst of the journey as well.

Her honesty is well received in the fact that she admits that she too is a f***-up and is a sinner just asking to receive God’s Grace. She almost does so to a self-deprecating manner which reminds me of Martin Luther, in the manner that she believes that she is not worthy. If I was looking for a congregation to call home I would be honored to walk alongside her as my pastor. I am proud to serve along side her though in the same denomination and believe that she brings a much needed honesty and rawness to the ELCA.

Because of the language within the book, some people may take offense to it. However, this is real life and real people. It may not be for everyone, but this is where relationships are built and where we can even find God.