So I was fortunate enough to get to spend an evening with Nadia Bolz-Weber, and by ‘spend an evening’ I mean going to an already scheduled book reading that she was having here in Decatur. Let me tell you, this lady loves Jesus. Real hard. Most of the time this would be a turn-off for a gal like me. Don’t get me wrong. I make exceptions for people that I know in real life, but public figures who love Jesus usually get a mark in the ‘con’ side of a pro/con list I keep in my head about people.
But Rev. Bolz-Weber is way different. I found her talk to be charming and accessible; open and inclusive. I went with my friend who attends(ed) a Southern Baptist church and after listening to Rev. Bolz-Weber speak about how we’re all ‘accidental saints’ and the light of Christ shines upon even the worst of us, J. turned to me and was all, “That’s exactly how I feel, I want a church that accepts me for me.” For this atheist, that’s exactly the kind of public-figure Christian that I can get behind.
Of course she did some readings from her newly released book Accidental Saints, which I’ve started and (of course) is fabulous. She also did the most amazing raffle with the proceeds going to two excellent bookish charities. She ranted about the Hallmark-ization of Christmas, including her extreme dislike of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and the mischaracterization that modern Christianity has made of the magi (“We’re not talking cute magicians that you hire for your kid’s birthday party, we’re not talking about Gob Bluth.”)
Another point of her lecture that really hit me hard was her speaking about demons in the Bible and how real those demons may be today. No matter what we want to call them by, depression, mental illness, addiction, even this atheist must agree we have demons that inhabit the world today. I’m probably more sure in my feelings than she is that these ‘demons’ are due to neurological and social causes rather than actual supernatural beings, but despite this I was deeply touched and affected when she spoke of her depression. She named her depression Frances, and “…the only drug that bitch didn’t like was called Wellbutrin.” I too have experienced depression so deep it was tangible, self destructive tendencies so big they felt like possession. This openness and frankness is what I have loved about Rev. Bolz-Weber since I read Pastrix, she’s so real and honest. A lack of honesty is something that I often want to criticize in modern Christians (especially those I don’t know personally).
We are all deeply flawed and all we can do is to continue to love our neighbor, even the bad ones, to the best of our ability. To forgive, to strive harder to be good people and make the world a better place. Again, this is what I love about Rev. Bolz-Weber, is that even though I don’t embrace her theology (though I deeply, truly wish I could) I honestly and completely embrace her philosophy and admire her convictions.
Now for something fun. I totally fangirled out at the book signing portion of the night and was all “You probably don’t remember me, but I was that atheist who loved Pastrix so hard.” and… she claimed she totally did! I got a giant hug from this CrossFitted, Jesus-loving, ELCA pastor and I’m just going to show you how happy I was (and how possibly freaked out she was).
What about you, Reader? Felt fan-person-y recently? Have you read anything by Rev. Bolz-Weber? DO YOU LOVE HER? Keep your eyeballs peeled for a review of Accidental Saints, the Socratic Salon might even be tackling it. Obviously if I’ve mischaracterized anything she’s said the mistake is mine.