Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Amazing Nadia Bolz-Weber

I'm listening to Krista Tippett interview one of my favorite famous Lutherans (famous Lutherans--an oxymoron?), Nadia Bolz-Weber.  What a fabulous pair of minds!  I'm jealous in all sorts of ways.

It's important to remember that these are normal humans.  If I attended Nadia Bolz-Weber's church, there would probably be elements that would irk me.  I have that kind of brain, always looking for improvement.  But everything I hear her say leads me to think that she's really solved a lot of issues that bedevil so many churches.  Here's one example:

"And then liturgy means the work of the people, and yet we've relegated almost every part of the liturgy to the priest. It makes no sense. And so people walk in and they get to decide when they walk in if they want to do one of the jobs in the liturgy and they just grab that booklet. And so they can go, "Oh, I'm going to do the greeting' or 'I'm going to do the prayer of the day' or 'I'm going to say the Benediction or the post-Communion prayer or serve Communion.'

Nobody has to deem them worthy of it or good at it, and so the whole liturgy is led by within the community from the people who are there. I say the absolution, two out of the three Sundays I preach and I say most of the Eucharistic prayer, and other than that, nobody hears from me. We're anti-excellence, pro-participation is how we put it. We don't do anything really well, but we do it together."

This interview contains so many things which I'll ponder in the coming weeks.

I love what she says about brokenness:  "Well, I think that we've sort of glamorized certain types of brokenness. You know, there's like the big ones: mental illness, addiction. And in a way, it can be very tempting to allow those people who are so obviously broken to just carry all of the brokenness for us. And I think that's not honest, because I just have never met a human being who has not experienced some kind of suffering, some kind of brokenness. Maybe it has to do with divorce, something that feels so common we're not allowed to, like, really consider it to be brokenness anymore. Or maybe it has to do with body image. Or maybe …

Everybody has something that they — like it might not be a huge addiction, the really kind of big sexy ones, but it might be there's something that we feel powerless over, that we feel like has a hold of us, that we don't feel like we have much choice in, like we've lost the ability to choose whether we're going to do this, or think this, or be in this relationship, and then our life has a certain element of unmanageability because of that. I think that is very, very, very common, even if you don't have one of the big sexy problems that we sort of identify."

And then there's the whole question of God. 

Oh, her vision of the cross!  Finally, an atonement theory which speaks to me:  "But so if you look at Jesus, to me the greatest revelation of who God was was actually at the cross. Because to me that's not God's little boy, like God is some sort of divine child abuser sending his son — and he only had one, you know — like, come on, give me a break, right? You know, God's little boy and he only had one, and as this sort of divine child abuser, or as this cigar-chomping loan shark demanding his pound of flesh, you know, he's sending his little boy to the — what hogwash, right? That actually is God on the cross, that's God saying, I would rather die than be in the sin-accounting business that you've put me in."
She says that most of God is unknowable, which is probably a good thing.

Are we, as humans, more comforted by certainty or mystery?  Before hearing her say that we're more comforted by mystery, I'd have said certainty.  Hmmm.  Now I'm wondering if she may be right.  But what I really think is that mystery and certainty each offer a certain comfort.  I know so many people who have closed themselves to the comfort offered by mystery.

And don't miss the material at the end of the show, the parts about community, the part where she tells her much more conservative parents that she's planning to go into ministry.  Amazing stuff!

Go here to listen and to find other resources, like the transcript, and the longer version of the interview.

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