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Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  7,100 ratings  ·  915 reviews

What if that person you've been trying to avoid is your best shot at grace today?

And what if that's the point?

In Accidental Saints, New York Times best-selling author Nadia Bolz-Weber invites readers into a surprising encounter with what she calls “a religious but not-so-spiritual life.” Tattooed, angry and profane, this former standup comic turned
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Convergent Books (first published September 8th 2015)
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Chris If you can embrace an outside of the box portrayal of Christianity, I think you'll like it. I definitely did. It really hit home the reality of the…moreIf you can embrace an outside of the box portrayal of Christianity, I think you'll like it. I definitely did. It really hit home the reality of the work Jesus did, hanging out with the 'lesser people' society finds it easy to ignore. I think Bolz hits that nail on the head. (less)
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Sep 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by someone at work who I THINK believes I am "edgy," and is also aware that I love reading about religion. I think SHE thought I'd embrace this "cool" approach to Christianity. But this book was not for me. Nadia Bolz-Weber comes from an extremely conservative background. So her fresh ideas were stale to me. "Catholics are NOT THAT WEIRD!"(I'm a Catholic.) "I hang out with REAL GAY PEOPLE!" I mean, that is great, and perhaps conservative people reading this will f ...more
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-related
I recommend the audiobook as well because NBW reads it herself.
(3.5) I knew of Nadia Bolz-Weber through Greenbelt Festival. She’s a foul-mouthed, tattooed, fairly orthodox Lutheran pastor. This brief, enjoyable memoir is about how she keeps believing despite her own past issues and the many messed-up and outwardly unlovable people who show up at her church, House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. I especially love her new set of Beatitudes.

In my favorite section, she zeroes in on one Holy Week and shows the whole range of emotions and trauma that religi
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
On a 0-100 scale, what I know about Christianity comes MUCH closer to 0 than to 100. Believe me. (Note: I'm not repeating "believe me," as does The Donald; so you can trust that I'm neither lying nor using "truthful hyperbole.") Born Jewish -- and still Jewish -- I, unfortunately, don't know what I ought to know about my own religion -- much less anyone else's. And before I discuss Nadia Bolz-Weber's book, I should also confess that my desire to increase my familiarity with Christian theology ha ...more
K. Lincoln
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So here's the thing: I grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, was baptized, confirmed, and then went to high school and found nothing in the liturgy or the service to make me stay in the church.

And then I went to live in Japan and had to wrestle with a WHOLE COUNTRY of folks with a 1000 year old history that has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus.

So I stopped believing the church or Christianity had anything to do with me. I'm a flaming liberal, and a religion that makes outsid
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I freakin' love Nadia Bolz-Weber. She released the incredible Pastrix just two years ago, and she's gathered enough stories since then to have a brand-new inspiring, challenging, funny book about God and people that made me cry on at least three occasions. This book is structured over the course of a liturgical year, beginning and ending at All Saints' Day, though she draws on stories from multiple years. My takeaway from this book is that I don't need to try harder to "be a good Christian/perso ...more
Amy Neftzger
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the spirit on honesty, I'd like to state that I typically avoid books by Christian authors. I have an uncontrollable phobia of platitudes and easy answers. This book was different and Bolt-Weber doesn't claim to have all the answers, which immediately got my attention and respect.

Nadia Boltz-Weber's writing is raw and honest. She asks a lot of questions, and sometimes those questions don't have answers. There's no formula on how to live a perfect life or list of rules to follow in order to ga
Kat Heckenbach
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly enough, I had discovered Nadia Bolz-Weber exactly one day before seeing this book show up in the Amazon Vine newsletter. A friend had posted something about her on Facebook, essentially musing over whether Mrs. Bolz-Weber is genuine or not. Let's face it--a female pastor, covered in tats, spewing expletives at's gonna make people wonder, in this world of fame-hungry attention-seekers.

So I looked up Nadia (whom I'll refer to as such not out of disrespect, but out of ease I typing
Not quite as raw or edgy as I'd been expecting, based on what I'd heard about this book. Given the book's subtitle, I was surprised that I didn't find the book's primary focus to be about "finding God in all the wrong people." Bolz-Weber tends to gloss over what is objectionable about the people whose stories she's telling -- in a way, I felt like there was a bit of defiance toward the reader in this sense, as though she were expecting us to be the ones to call the people in her examples "wrong" ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
A wonderful, whole-hearted, no-holds-barred book.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like Nadia Bolz-Weber. She’s cool and can be funny sometimes. She’s also very Lutheran, for what it’s worth; all about the sola fide. But I’m not the audience for this book, probably because it’s not so much about Finding God in All the Wrong People as it is how the Pastrix is herself the Accidental Saint. The scenes are ostensibly about other misfits coming around to the faith, but always conclude with passages about how she loves Christ but (gasp!) has tattoos, hangs out with drag queens and ...more
Matthew Price
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If her book Pastrix convinced me that she's a great pastor, this new book by Nadia Bolz-Weber convinced me she's also a brilliant Lutheran theologian. The stories in this book are at times funny, at times tragic, but always vulnerable and true, as well as brimming with insights into the Bible and the offensive nature of God's grace in our world. I know I'll never read stories like the death of Judas or Jesus' encounter with the Gerasene demoniac in the same way again. Highly recommended.
May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Nadia Bolz-Weber's forthcoming book. Unlike Pastrix, it tells stories primarily from her life as a pastor, with little emphasis on her earlier life. Her writing is, as always, engaging, and in this book rather self-deprecating, as she tells stories of people who became (accidental) saints in her life. It's a wonderful book. Bolz-Weber offers a forthright word about grace and mercy, tempering the charming confidence exhibited in earlier writing wit ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, religion
I am a nice Jewish girl who works at an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) college. As a non-Christian deeply invested in the ELCA my viewpoint is perhaps a unique one. I started reading this book over a year ago. I read the first few essays, and was interested, intended to return (I often read books of essays in pieces) but somehow never did. In the meantime I picked up my life, stopped working in a Jewish nonprofit in Atlanta and moved to Fargo and began working at a wonderful colle ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, churchy
Recommended for: People questioning their faith; Christians; women, especially strong women; people who are dealing with guilt, people who are stretched too thin.

Themes you'll find: Redemption, forgiveness, finding facets of Christ in everyone. Imperfect love, brokenness.

Stuff that was awesome: Her stories and her tone! She's no-nonsense. She swears. She would totally say "shit" if she had a mouthful. But she's also a preacher. She's an ordained minister who understands the importance of finding
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading Nadia Bolz-Weber is not comfortable reading for those are offended by broken, messy people with messy lives descending on their look-good-from-the-road Christianity. Or, incidentally, have issues with pastors swearing. But for those who have been wounded, rejected, and damaged by the above mentioned Christians, she is, literally, a Godsend. Bolz-Weber comes from fundamentalist roots and a rough road back to faith. She serves as pastor of The House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. Sh ...more
I would not have picked up this book if it weren't for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge. I needed to read something about religion, but the history books I had thumbed through didn't seem right. Then when I came across this title, I thought YES. As a somewhat lapsed Episcopalian, I have a lot of kind feelings about Lutherans -- particularly one with a lot of anger and tattoos. (That sounds familiar, for sure.) This wasn't a straightforward memoir or a how-to guide for being a better Christian ...more
Paul Mathis
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nadia Bolz-Weber is incredible. Not because of anything she has done, but because of her recognition of what God has done and is doing through her. Her vulnerability, self-reflection, and (often hard to give) graciousness is an example of what Christians should aspire to be. Along with Pastrix, I highly, highly recommend this book. Both to those in the church in order to learn how to become a community that receives broken people and to the unchurched who believe church members have everything f ...more
Paige Mueller
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever and thought-provoking commentary about unlikely stories of faith. Made me think deeply and expanded my thoughts regarding the church as a whole. Great book!
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"On All Saints' Sunday, I am faced with sticky ambiguities around saints who were bad and sinners who were good.

"Personally, I think knowing the difference between a racist and a saint is kind of important. But when Jesus again and again says things like the last shall be first, and the first shall be last, and the poor are blessed, and the rich are cursed, and that prostitutes make great dinner guests, it makes me wonder if our need for pure black-and-white categories is not true religion but m
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Reading this book was like Nadia was inside my head, thinking the things I think and feeling the way I feel. Her honesty is refreshing, not just for a pastor or a Christian, but a person. She tells everything like it is--swear words and all--and despite her fear of appearing vulnerable or terrible, she lays bare her heart in the pages of this book, and hangs her dirty laundry in the subway for all all to see and smell.

I was born and raised in a conservative Christian home, but it's Nadia who ma
I grew up Lutheran but consider myself to be fairly agnostic/atheist, so I'm not sure what drew me to this book. I think lately I've started to get more interested in the theological study of religion. Because religion is so intwined with our world, whether we believe or not, I think it's important to expose oneself to it in a variety of ways. Having grown up Lutheran and also having lived in Denver, I had heard of Nadia Bolz-Weber and so I was interested in learning more about her story. Her me ...more
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good, storied account of how the grace of God meets us in our messy lives.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection of memories from a fascinating Lutheran pastor who “ is a tatted-up, foul mouthed champion to people “ (Washington Post). As a newly ordained pastor starting an emergent church, she has lots to say about grace, faith, forgiveness and God.
Expanding Bookshelf
I’m sure a lot of people will get a lot out of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s memoir Accidental Saints, but I’m not one of them.

Reverand Nadia Bolz-Weber doesn’t look like your typical Lutheran Pastor. Rocking tattoo sleeves and a foul mouth, she’s a new type of preacher, the type to welcome those who have normally been turned away by the religious establishment. Her church is founded on the principle that humans are going to fuck up (so edgy with the swearing!) but that a good heart is what matters to God
Tristan Sherwin
Nov 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once more, Nadia Bolz-Weber has penned another brilliant exposé of our wrestling with God. Or, in this case, God’s eternal wrestle of getting us to believe in the power of unconditional love.

Following the liturgical year, Nadia, through a collection of confessional stories full of symbols and struggles, helps us to eye-ball reality as it is to discover a corporeality that is holy ground territory for the divine to manifest its self.

And yeah, Nadia, in her usual style, pulls no punches and cuts n
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, nonfiction, religion
Another keeper from the author of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint. This one is a collection of reflections on a variety of subjects, illustrated by her experiences with her congregation at House for all Sinners and Saints in Denver.
I appreciate the honesty of her writing; her raw, confessional tone has a powerful effect on me.
I highlighted a lot while I was reading; here are a few favorite passages:
Maybe Jesus was simply blessing the ones around him that day who did
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: practicing and former Christians, especially Lutherans
Recommended to Melle by: NPR / Fresh Air
As a former Lutheran, while I differ with Nadia Bolz-Weber's theology and religion, I appreciate her approach to her faith and to caring for others, her ability to relate and to show compassion, and her ability to make me laugh and cry with recognition of our collective, messy, shared humanity. This is a book that shows the best of what Christianity (like many other faiths and spiritual practices in this world) has to offer, what I learned about loving people where they're at, just as they are, ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Christians are the ones who seem the most imperfect but do God's work within their imperfect-ness which you can clearly see. I once saw a documentary on a Catholic Sister who ran a half way house in the Bronx and swore like a truck driver but in whom I saw God's love of all people. So is the book by Nadia Bolz-Weber, who also swears like a truck driver (but in the most appropriate ways!), can be startlingly funny and reveals many of our innermost feelings within the Christian walk. H ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book was a bit too episodic and I longed for an arc to connect more of the stories - or just some added length to the stories - there was much I enjoyed. I liked the way Bolz-Weber articulated some beliefs I share with her - such as the way God uses our weaknesses as much as our gifts. I also enjoyed seeing some saints in a new light: I loved the idea that the Annunciation is about Mary accepting who God has already made her to be.

This book is a quick, enjoyable read. If you're lookin
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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.
“Never once did Jesus scan the room for the best example of  holy living and send that person out to tell others about him. He always sent stumblers and sinners. I find that comforting.” 32 likes
“My spirituality is most active, not in meditation, but in the moments when: I realize God may have gotten something beautiful done through me despite the fact that I am an asshole, and when I am confronted by the mercy of the gospel so much that I cannot hate my enemies, and when I am unable to judge the sin of someone else (which, let’s be honest, I love to do) because my own crap is too much in the way, and when I have to bear witness to another human being’s suffering despite my desire to be left alone, and when I am forgiven by someone even though I don’t deserve it and my forgiver does this because he, too, is trapped by the gospel, and when traumatic things happen in the world and I have nowhere to place them or make sense of them but what I do have is a group of people who gather with me every week, people who will mourn and pray with me over the devastation of something like a school shooting, and when I end up changed by loving someone I’d never choose out of a catalog but whom God sends my way to teach me about God’s love.” 18 likes
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