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Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner Saint

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  12,587 ratings  ·  1,484 reviews
Foul-mouthed and heavily tattooed, former standup comic-turned-Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber weaves hilarious rants and stunning theological insight into her personal narrative of a flawed, beautiful, and unlikely life of faith.

Bizarre, rich, and remarkable, PASTRIX turns spiritual memoir on its ear in a sardonically irreverent and beautifully honest page-turner that re
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Jericho Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  12,587 ratings  ·  1,484 reviews

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Todd Buegler
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I will select very carefully who I recommend reads this book. I’ll do so for two reasons:

The language Nadia uses in her book is going to cause problems for some people. She is raw, she is honest, she is herself. And she can express herself with colorful metaphors better than any other pastor I’ve met. For those who are sensitive to expletives, well…you’d better go read something by somebody else.

Nadia is telling her story. And Nadia’s story is one that moves, sometimes in a single paragraph, fro
Carolyn Francis
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am not one of those who thinks that Nadia Bolz-Weber chose to swear in the first sentence of her memoir to prove some kind of edginess or coolness. The woman swears. She likes tattoos. And Jesus. There's no pretence here. Personally, I think "shit, I'm going to be late for New Testament class" is a fabulous opening sentence for a theological memoir (I mean, who hasn't said that?) If it happens to scare off those who think such a project ought to be some kind of ode to middle class table manner ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first heard about Nadia Bolz-Weber (NBW) from Krista Tippet's On Being podcast. I was entranced by NBW's open, honest, no-holds-barred look at her life and response to God's grace. I pre-ordered the Kindle version of Pastrix The Cranky Beautiful Faith ofa Sinner Saint that afternoon.

It arrived on a Tuesday - I devoured it in less than 2 days. I highlighted/bookmarked portions (I never do that!) that I wanted to go back to or talk over with friends. Then I bought a dead-tree version because I w
Mike Young
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I LOVED this book. And that’s odd because I probably can’t recommend it to all my friends. Many would be strongly offended by it. They would quickly react to Nadia Bolz-Weber‘s application of sailor language to godly topics. Many would take offense at her welcoming and affirming stance on LGBTQ issues. And I’ve come to a place that it’s ok if they are offended. I can’t control that. Don’t read the book if you fear you’ll fall in that category. I honestly don’t
Benjamin Dueholm
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I went hot and cold on this one. There's a lot in here that's lovely and insightful. There are also passages that wax a little breezy and shallow. The stories behind the sermons appealed to me, as did the cast of characters. But I found myself wanting a little more context. What's the world surrounding HFASS like? What's the theological and liturgical conviction that animates the community and ties these fascinating people and their stories together with the saints and sinners of the ages? I'm g ...more
Scott (on temporary hiatus)
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Yet despite . . . years of theological education, countless prayers, an ordination, and a life centered on serving the church, I still have the same personality I was born with. I am often impatient and cranky . . . my first response to almost everything is "@#&% you."" -- Pastor Nadia, page 192

After enjoying her Accidental Saints (2015) and Shameless (2019) in the last month I eagerly sought out Bolz-Weber's earlier autobiographic Pastrix. I think this was just as good as her other books.

Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I had mixed feelings as I was reading the first half of Pastrix but the strong second half won me over. I loved the parts in which she talks about how her faith and her understanding of scripture inform specific ways that she acts. Those were thoughtful stories well-told, and I was moved by them. Additionally, it is incredibly important to me that we have books like this that show a liberal feminist pastor who has a less conservative view of scripture but who still takes it seriously. I felt tha ...more
Tim Ervolina
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nadia Bolz-Weber is inked. Heavily inked. She curses like she gets extra points for it. She is admittedly cynical, misanthropic, politically left, passionate about changing the world and so full of self-doubt and self-criticism that it's a wonder she can get up each morning. Oh, and she loves Jesus. And she's an ordained minister. A Lutheran, for Christ's sake.

This book is about resurrection. Nadia's first and foremost: from a drunken, promiscuous stand-up comic to a sober curmudgeon who loves
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was first introduced to Nadia when she spoke to the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, during which she began her presentation by telling the youth in attendance that some of their parents weren't happy she'd been chosen as a speaker. Why? Because of how she looks and how she speaks--not because of what she believes. As I watched her speak via streaming video and cried my eyes out, I hoped my daughter (who was there in person) felt as moved by Nadia's testimony as I did.

Reading this book wa
Lee Harmon
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! So funny, so moving, with tears rolling either way. This is a raw version of Take This Bread (by Sara Miles), where the misfit lesbian atheist churchgoer is swapped out for an even funnier tattooed alcoholic-in-recovery who “swears like a truck driver” … and who this time went so far as to become a Lutheran pastor, founding her own church. When Nadia decided to become God’s bitch and embrace the whole “Jesus thing,” she changed … well, probably only her drinking. “Nothing about me say ...more
Chris Wolak
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, audio
I listened to the audiobook and loved it. It ranks up there with my favorite audiobooks.

As a lesbian and recovering alcoholic who was raised Lutheran and have had an on-again/off-again relationship with the church, there was a lot for me to relate to here.

Bolz-Weber seamlessly weaves her own life experiences with that of other people and situations to illuminate the teachings of Jesus and the Grace that Martin Luther preached 500+ years ago.

There's also foul language, so if you're a delicate flo
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We were bringing this to a friend to read and I took a glimpse at the first few pages and I was hooked and passing the book on will have to wait for another day. I literally read this straight through and haven't recently given myself permission to do that with a book. The reality of Nadia's story of faith is powerful and the church that she allows God to bring through her is startlingly different from the church I have experienced. Or she experienced. This book reminded me in a powerful way tha ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who can't stop believing in God but have trouble with the intolerant, bad-example Christians
Recommended to 7jane by: (indirectly) one BBC online article
Shelves: religion
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor (and pastrix) of a small community of misfit, never-fit-ins in Denver. This is an autobiography of her life, plus other themes that fit easily in. Growing up in Church of Christ, she never really fit in, but slid into the world of addiction - and yet when she started to recover and went dry, she realised that despite all, God wanted her back, kicking and screaming and doubting, yet not able to deny her belief and calling.

She comes across very true to herself
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, culture
I gave this book two stars because Nadia Bolz-Weber is a good writer - I enjoyed reading her story as a story. She also seems to genuinely love people, even those different from her.

However, I believe there are significant issues with her understanding of he gospel of Jesus Christ. To boil it down to the most basic problem, Mrs. Bolz-Weber seems to recognize no ultimate authority to which men and women are held accountable. She acknowledges the Bible as the Word of God, but then says that all pa
Laurie Larson Caesar
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
She's a clear-eyed witness to this radical grace we are invited to live - funny, smart, cranky and faithful. ...more
Rebecca Pratt
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loves-of-my-life
This beautiful, badass, compelling book served to reorient me around the concept of resurrection. I grew up in the church, both of my parents were in urban ministry and we lived in intentional missional communities. I have always loved Jesus' teachings and the rich history of this beautiful, sometimes deeply fucked up, faith tradition. Yet I have always struggled with resurrection as a primary component of my faith (insert baffled looks from fellow Christians saying, "isn't that the whole deal?! ...more
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I first saw this book, it was passing through the library for a patron. Out of curiosity, I ordered it, but I never could have predicted the impact it would have on me, how truly moved I would be by her beautiful insights on what it means to be a Christian. I wasn't even sure I'd like it; in fact, I was positive it would be a love or hate thing. I wondered about this hip-looking pastor with her self-proclaimed crankiness. Would she just be promoting a brand of faith she thought was cooler t ...more
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book whether you are a believer or not. The author gets extra points for being horrified by both liturgical dance and praise singing. Very recommended.

*They have a higher opinion of human beings than I have ever felt comfortable claiming, as someone who both reads the paper and knows the condition of my own heart.*

*The passion reading ended, and suddenly I was aware that God isn't feeling smug about the whole thing. God is not distant at the cross and God is not distant in the grief of
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian
There is a whole lot here I can relate to, more then I can't honestly. Coming from a Pentecostal and Holiness background and deeply wounded by that side of the church years ago before coming over to the Episcopal church, many of the themes strike home. There is also a lot of honest truth in this book, I work in a support position in a church and a lot of what I read here is in line with what I've seen and heard first hand, no blemishes, no glory and some days lots of tears, others lots of laught ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“I hadn’t learned about grace from the church. But I did learn about it from sober drunks who managed to stop drinking by giving their will over to the care of God and who then tried like hell to live a life according to spiritual principles. What the drunks taught me was that there was a power greater than myself who could be a source of restoration, and that higher power, it ends up, is not me.”

Powerful, honest, searing memoir from Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran priest in Denver, who tells the s
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: Liz
Challenging. I loved it even though I disagree with a lot of Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber's theology. She understands grace. More than that, she lives it. I feel I understand grace even better now because of reading her writing.
This book won't be for everyone. There is a lot of language. She is an ELCA pastor and is very upfront with her beliefs on a lot of controversial issues. Politically and theologically, I'm pretty sure we fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.
She gets the Gospel, though, and
Anne Bogel
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Such a cliché, but this was a breath of fresh air, despite the crankiness (it's in the subtitle--you've been warned), and the abundant profanity. I inhaled this book. ...more
Thomas Mcgraw
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book that makes me want to be a Christian. Everyone should read it.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely still an atheist, but also definitely still love to hear anyone's stories. It was like reading episodes of The Moth, which I love. ...more
Bethany Judd
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Smiley TV preachers might tell you that following Jesus is about being good so that God will bless you with cash and prizes, but really it's much more gruesome and meaningful. It's about spiritual physics. Something has to die for something new to live."

And just like that, Nadia Bolz-Weber had my attention. I first heard of Bolz-Weber through a Presbyterian friend of mine, and she intrigued me with her tatted up arms and no-nonsense attitude. Going in to this book, that is pretty much all that
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on my blog at

Holy shit. All I really want to say is that you MUST READ THIS BOOK. But that would seriously erode my reviewing cred (ha!) so I'll try to gather my very enthusiastic thoughts and explain.

Pastrix is an absolute joy. An open-minded, all-encompassing, ass-kicking joy. It's inspiring, uplifting, and many other adjectives that I could string together to try to make you understand that you MUST READ THIS BOOK.*

Nadia Bolz-Weber might be the coo
Chris Hughes
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Cantankerous, snarky and sarcastic, my three go-to forms of communication. What's not to love about her writing style? Her thoughts on faith and the life of her church are beautiful, interesting and fresh. This book is a challenge for anyone who, like me, as settled in to 'mainstream' church life, pushing us ever farther to the boundaries and margins, the places where Jesus was most comfortable.

I was a little letdown to learn this book does not hit on what we find most interesting about Nadia -
Elizabeth Andrew
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I'm not one to be impressed by a tattoo-sporting, cussing, former comedian Lutheran pastor. There's too many real contradictions in the life of faith to think these external ones carry much weight. PATRIX flaunts these and more--Bolz-Weber seems (although never directly claims to be) queer identified, she's a recovering addict, she's hip, and she plays these cards a bit too self-consciously for my taste.

Nevertheless, she tells a damn good story, and her theology is excellent. I thoroughly enjoye
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An in your face narrative where theology slams head first into the muck and mud of life. Reading this in parallel with Bonhoeffer's Letters from Prison makes for an even wilder ride.

This book is exceedingly non-linear, however, rather than serving to distract, it actually serves to weave much of it together in a very Gospel focused form. The late Rich Mullin's used the term provoked rather than inspired when it came to his song writing... and there is a ton of provoking going on here. Just when
Wilhelmina Jenkins
I love the author of this book, Nadia Bolz-Weber. I love her journey from very lost to very found to her ministry as the Lutheran pastor of a wild and wonderful congregation. Her insights are stunning. The only reason that this is not a 5-star review is that I wanted a bit more depth. It isn't quite a memoir, it's more a subset of her life experiences connected with scriptural passages. Which is fine, but I am greedy and wanted more. Do not read this book if you are offended but, shall we say, c ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #86: Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber 1 6 Sep 14, 2013 07:55AM  

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Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, an ELCA mission church in Denver, Colorado.

She has a BA in Religious Studies from CU Boulder and an MDiv from Iliff School of Theology.

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