Cranky, Beautiful Faith

“I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand and contrive. Otherwise it can feel like I’m worshipping nothing more than my own ability to understand the divine.”


There are some pretty rubbish memoirs out there, written by people who want to write a book but don’t really have much to say. This is not one of those memoirs. Nadia doesn’t claim to have a big story, but the way she shares her journey kept me captivated throughout. She skips back and forth on her time line from awkward childhood, through addiction and into the priesthood with self-deprecating humour and the kind of cynical, sarcastic language that I love.

There is no ‘holier that thou’ about Nadia’s writing – what you get is brazen and shamelessly real, whether she’s talking about bad coffee laced AA meetings, life as a stand up comic, or waking up on the floor of a squat with cat pee on her sleeping bag. Her path to Lutheran ministry is not a typical one (she’s not backward in saying she’d assumed she’d be dead by thirty), but then how many of us fit into a thoroughly neat box of ministry?

On of the things I loved about Cranky, Beautiful Faith is that I can see aspects of my own journey in hers. There are struggles I share both personally and in my relationship with the Church. I too have difficulty aligning what we say with what we do, who we love and how we worship.

She tackles a question I’ve never quite had answered – who’s in and who’s out (and who’s really out). Her answer is nobody – we are all invited to the table. Christians can argue this for days at a time, and yet the answer is refreshing in its simplicity: no-one is excluded, all are welcome – even if they are cranky as well as beautiful! As I was reading I found myself basking in the feeling of relief at not being the only one acknowledging that our church is becoming stifling.

If you like your books to fit neatly into the boxes allowed for them, if you like your theology crisp and inoffensive, and if you like your language clean, then Nadia Bolz-Weber is not for you. But if you want to find more questions than answers, are keen to invite even the most unusual people into the Kingdom of God, and want to see the church smash two thousand years of boundaries, I can’t recommend Cranky, Beautiful Faith highly enough.

Cranky, Beautiful Faith is available in print and ebook format on Amazon, Eden or various bookshops.

Visit Nadia’s website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook – you won’t regret it!


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