“God, please help me not be an asshole, is about as common a prayer as I pray in my life.“
Today we continue my exploration of faith with one of the most fascinating spiritual leaders in America today — a Lutheran pastor and public theologian dedicated to redefining how we think about church, practice religion, ritualize divinity, and cultivate community.
But her latest concentration, and the focus of today’s conversation, is reforming religion’s antiquated, sexist ideas about sex, gender and our bodies – and all the pain, guilt and shame they provoke — to reclaim our sexuality and boldly begin anew.
You see, Nadia Bolz-Weber is no ordinary pastor.
Standing six-foot-one, this heavily tattooed former drug addict rocks the collar with bright red lipstick, fancies serious custom-made jewelry (her rings and belt buckles are off the hook) and swears like a sailor. Confusing matters more, she’s also very much a traditionalist – a fearless and deeply reverent pastor for America’s outsiders with intrepid beliefs about what “church” can and should be for the seekers among us.
For eleven years, Nadia served as the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, a colorful and eclectic, all-comers welcome congregation she started in 2007 with just eight members in her living room in Denver.
She is also a three-time New York Times bestselling author. Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint*, is her prayer-and-profanity laden narrative about an unconventional life of faith. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People* recounts her religious but not-so-spiritual path and perspective. Her newest book, Shameless A Sexual Reformation*, unleashes her critical eye, her sharp pen, and her vulnerable but hopeful soul on the caustic, fear-riddled, and religiously inspired messages about sex that have fed our shame.
I first laid eyes on Nadia when she took the stage at The Nantucket Project to interview Lance Armstrong. Her opening line? “So, I see from my notes that you took some drugs you weren’t supposed to and then you lied about it? OMG. I did that shit SO MANY TIMES!”
The crowd erupted. Instantly, I was hooked.
Later that same weekend I witnessed Nadia deliver a sermon unlike anything I had ever experienced in church or otherwise. Wrapt by her charisma and compelled by her unapologetically honest message, I knew immediately I had to get her on the podcast.
Growing up fundamentalist, at 12 she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a thyroid-related autoimmune disorder that caused her eyes to literally bug out of their sockets. Socially ostracized, rage and cynicism led a descent into drugs and alcohol. In 1991, a 12-step program ultimately lit her path back to faith — and the church she ultimately founded to create a home for those who have never felt home.
Today we explore Nadia’s amazing story, set against the backdrop of her current focus: reforming Christianity’s historically toxic, fear-riddled obsession with sex that has fed our collective shame. Calling for a new reformation, her antidote in this holy resistance is grace, freedom, courage, love and hope. And her aim is to heal not only those who have been hurt but also those who have done the hurting.
Courageous, vulnerable and acerbically funny, I adore Nadia and the message she shares today. Whether you are religious or atheist; spiritual or agnostic, we are all both sinners and saints. And this conversation — a far cry from your typical sermon — overflows with beauty and wisdom for everyone.
However, if you are someone who has been mistreated, wounded or victimized by the shaming sexual messages so prevalent in religion — which obviously spills over into culture at large — then this podcast is appointment listening.
May grace and peace be with you.
Peace + Plants,
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Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support our sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity url’s and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.
Check Out Nadia’s latest New York Times best-selling book: Shameless A Sexual Reformation*
Background, Context & Reference:
- Connect with Nadia: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Church: House For All Sinners And Saints | Denver, CO
- Anual Conference: The Nantucket Project
- Makers: Nadia Bolz-Weber
- Makers: Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber To Exit Church After “Epic Dance Party With Red Velvet Cake”
- The Atlantic: Why Every Church Needs a Drag Queen
- The New Yorker: The Lutheran Pastor Calling for a Sexual Reformation
- BBC: Nadia Bolz Weber: A pastor for America’s outsiders
- CNN: This woman does WHAT for a living?
- The Daily Mail: ‘I swear like a truck driver’: Tattooed female weightlifter who boozed and took drugs becomes rising star of the Lutheran Church
- NPR: Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber Gets ‘Shameless’ About Sex
- NPR: Lutheran Minister Preaches A Gospel Of Love To Junkies, Drag Queens And Outsiders
- The Washington Post: Acts of Faith Perspective We’re in the midst of an apocalypse. And that’s a good thing
- Christianity Today: Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Gospel of Shame-Free Sexuality
- Publisher’s Weekly: Nadia Bolz-Weber is Shameless about God, Grace, and Sex
- Religion News Service: Nadia Bolz-Weber wants to kiss 1990s-era purity rings goodbye
- The Presbyterian Outlook: Headed for a larger stage, Nadia Bolz-Weber leaves her ‘house’ in order
- Huffington Post (video): This Pastor Is Melting Purity Rings Into A Golden Vagina Sculpture
- YouTube: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor | Makers
- YouTube: Nadia Bolz-Weber—Sex, Shame, and Scripture | Wanderlust
- Book: Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense* by Francis Spufford
Books by Nadia Bolz-Weber:
- Shameless A Sexual Reformation*
- Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People*
- Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint*
- Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television*
Notable People Discussed:
- Rob Bell: author, speaker, former pastor and 2x podcast guest
- Lance Armstrong: former pro cyclist and podcast guest
- Jason Flom: music industry executive; current CEO of Lava Records; founding board member of the Innocence Project, The Church of Rock and Roll and podcast guest
- Martin Luther: was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation and was ordained to the priesthood in 1507
- Pete Holmes: comedian, actor, writer, producer, and podcaster
- Esther Perel: Belgian psychotherapist who has explored the tension between the need for security and the need for freedom in human relationships
Gloria Steinem: feminist, journalist, and social political activist; recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s
- Brian Williams: journalist at NBC News, once criticized for exaggerating a story involving himself on a mission in Iraq, which he claimed his helicopter was hit by enemy fire
- Josh McDowell: speaker, evangelist, author or co-author of over 150 books including Why True Love Waits: The Definitive Book on How to Help Your Kids Resist Sexual Pressure*
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #251: Faith Provocateur Rob Bell On God, Divinity & Why Love Always Wins
- RRP #354: Rob Bell Is ‘The Heretic’ – Filmmaker Andrew Morgan & Christianity’s Most Polarizing Voice
- RRP #312: Drew Sams On Living A Curious Life Of Wonder
- RRP #395: Jedidiah Jenkins On Shaking TheSleeping Self And The Quest To Live Without Regrets
- RRP #404: Music Mogul Jason Flom On Reforming Criminal Justice & Resurrecting Rock ‘N Roll
- RRP #327: Lance Armstrong Is Moving Forward
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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