By Angie Nicole
We spend a lot of time in seminary talking about grace. I love grace. But I am not so much of a fan of talking about it in seminary (at least with some people). I cringe when I know we are going to have to talk about grace in class. Talking about grace leads to communion and well that just turns into a disaster. One day a few weeks ago I was absolutely livid because someone told me that “you can’t take communion unless you’ve earned grace.” My response was “then I guess we should get rid of communion.”
I started reading Pastrix later that night. I couldn’t put it down. It was amazing. I knew it was going to be a great book when the first word I read was “Shit” (6). If you haven’t read Pastrix yet, stop reading this article and go read the book.
Because the rest of this article contains spoilers
I found myself not so silently cheering at parts of the book (this was the only reason I didn’t try to read during class). I got to this one part where she talks about grace and I just couldn’t contain my damn excitement;
I need to clarify something however. God’s grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word. My selfishness is not the end all…instead, it’s that God makes beautiful things out of even my own shit. Grace isn’t about God creating humans as flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace-like saying “Oh, it’s OK. I’ll be a good guy and forgive you.” It’s God saying, “I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new” (42).
I kept reading. I didn’t think it could get better. Oh how very wrong I was. Because like all good things in life, it just kept getting better and better. I also started reading Pastrix around the time our campus community learned that our Dean of Students would be leaving us. Frank died shortly after the announcement was made to our campus that he had cancer. The day the announcement was made I heard far too many people say that “God had a plan and all we had to do was pray.” When I got to page 68 of Pastrix I just wanted to photocopy it and plaster campus with the pages (and I still kind of want to do that).
You hear a lot of nonsense in hospitals and funeral homes. God had a plan, we just don’t know what it is. Maybe God took your daughter because He needs another angel in heaven. But when I’ve experienced loss and felt so much pain that it feels like nothing else ever existed, the last thing I need is a well-meaning but vapid person saying when God closes a door he opens a window. It makes me want to ask where exactly that window is so I can push him the fuck out of it.
So there was no possible way that this book could get better. I mean it challenged really shitty definitions of grace and stomped out really shitty death and dying theologies. But yet again it got better.
I find myself quoting Pastrix both silently and not so silently sometimes. My favorite line, that found it’s way to the wall of my living room was, “I am baptized, so fuck off” (109). I have also said this line silently and not so silently in class. So to the “minister” that told me “you can’t take communion unless you’ve earned grace” I say, “I’m baptized, so fuck off.”
So go read. Stop doing whatever it is you are doing and go read Pastrix. So that together we can loudly proclaim, “I’m baptized, so fuck off.”
Bolz-Weber, Nadia. Pastrix. New York: Jericho Books,2013. eBook.