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Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Report & Quotes, Nadia Bolz-Weber's "Accidental Saints - Finding God In All The Wrong People"

Preface:  It's something of a quandary when I think about it...sometimes I create a posting that garners a lot of readers and I'm left with the feeling that I somehow have to "top" (or at least equal) it with the next entry that I publish.  It's as if I feel guilty for not following up the original posting with something of equal or greater value.  That, by the way, is the reason why I haven't posted anything in a week.  Seriously, this kind of thing actually weighs on me.

Thinking about what to do, well, I'm reminded of that great quote for the 1983 movie War Games...

...and the sage advice it provided.  I also try to remind myself that I started writing this blog over 8 years ago primarily just for myself.

So this is where I've landed, and it's okay.  I only feel slightly guilty.  Slightly.  There will be more popular postings in the future, of that I am sure.  In the mean time, if someone does read this and decides to pick up a copy of  Accidental Saints, well then my guilt will be relieved.  

On to the book report.

* * * * * *

I finished this book a few week ago, and am finally getting around to putting some notes together for myself, which I'll gladly share with the 16 or so* of you reading this posting.

Why this book?
This is the second book I've read by Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber; the first was Pastrix.  That book was a good read, so I opted to continue the journey.  You can find both books HERE.

Did I like it?
I'd give it about 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Would I recommend it?
Like most things in life, "it depends".  I readily confess that I like reading books that deal with weighty topics such as religion, philosophy, personal growth, faith, etc.  If any of those topics interest you, well, you might like any of Pastor Nadia's (her own reference to herself) books.

Be forewarned:  Pastor Nadia's language can be a bit gruff at times.  I like that aspect of her writing by the way.  The best comparison I could make, relative to other authors, is that she's a sort of religious version of Hunter S. Thompson.  That's high praise in my book (no pun intended).

What was compelling about the book?
The two things that I found compelling about this book are:

  1. Faith for the rest of us.  More so than many other religious author (and I've read quite a few) Pastor Nadia is able to talk about faith is a way that's very real in a starkly compelling manner.  This isn't some esoteric regurgitation of scripture with a tenuous tie to modern life; no, this is about how scripture can apply to the lives of real people living all too real lives.  There is also no religious hierarchy in Pastor Nadia's book; all...including herself...are equally flawed.  I find that sentiment incredibly refreshing.
  2. Writing Style.  As noted above, I enjoy Pastor Nadia's writing style.  If you are interested in learning more about faith, but are turned off by the idea of reading a book by a clergy member (out of fear that it will sound like oh too many Sunday sermons you heard as a kid), well then this book may be for you.
What wasn't so compelling about the book?
One basic criticism:  Like many other authors who write about faith, Pastor Nadia has a habit of hitting the same themes over and over again.  As someone who had engaged in some educational work for a living, I thoroughly understand the basic need to repeat important themes; however it can get tedious if you begin reading a section and almost immediately guess how that particular story will resolve itself in the end.  File this under the category of "minor critique" though.  

Here are a few select quotes that can give you a flavor for the book:

"The most qualified to speak the gospel are those who know how unqualified they are to speak the gospel." (page 30).

"After years of therapy and twelve-step work, I've finally realized that trying not to need others isn't about strength and independence; it's about fear.  To allow myself to need someone else is to put myself in a position to be betrayed or made to look weak." (page 99)

"I told them that Jesus could have hung out in the high-end religious scene of his day, but instead he scoffed at that, choosing instead to laugh at the powerful, befriend the whores, kiss sinners, and eat with all the wrong people.  He spent his time with people for whom life was not easy.  And there, amid those who were suffering, he was the embodiment of perfect love." (page 110)

"Whenever people annoy me beyond reason, I can guarantee it's because they're demonstrating something I'd rather not see in myself." (page 123)

"It felt like the church's way of creating job security:  the church makes us feel so bad about ourselves that we then have to go to the church for absolution." (page 132)

"This Jesus whom we follow cried at the tomb of his friend and turned the other cheek and forgave those who hung him on a cross.  He was God's Beatitude -- God's blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong."  (Page 188)

(*) I'm joking, of will be more than 16.  Maybe 20.

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