#CBR7 Review #194: Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Book Club is coming up this weekend. And when you choose a brand-new book, you’re guaranteed a long wait at the library. So, when our friend B chose Accidental Saints, a sort-of follow-up to Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix, I was elated and dismayed at once. Were The Chancellor and I going to get a copy of the book before Book Club? Thanks to kind friends, yes. But perhaps that means we limit our new-books-for-Book-Club ideas unless we plan ahead. Like, 3 months ahead.

So, on to Accidental Saints. Bolz-Weber goes from a personal memoir to a more faith-oriented discussion of what it really means to be a Christian. She does not poke around feel-good platitudes and soft-hearted stories. Grace is real and raw and people are flawed. Very much so. She argues time and again that being a Christian is actually really, really hard, and uses her own life story to demonstrate how her own flaws bring into light God’s incredible love for us. It’s powerful stuff.

What I like most about this book is its incredible insistence on faith as the safest but most profoundly uncomfortable thing. And she made me, liberal feel-good, pro-LGBT, anti-gun me, feel uncomfortable and challenged. In a good way. If Christ welcomes everyone to the table, that means everyone. Literally, everyone. She illustrates this in the Advent service when her church commemorates the Sandy Hook massacre. They include Adam Lanza’s name, because he died and he was loved by God. Bolz-Weber talks about how she did not want to, how he did not deserve it, but then, she reflects that he was God’s child, too. It was a moment that made me weep.

While I don’t think you need to be a person of faith to read this book, it will prove an especially rich challenge to believers. I really, really hope that my more conservative siblings pick this book up, because this is an insightful and poignant glimpse at inclusion from all angles, as well as a laser-sharp focus on the impact of God’s love in our lives. 4.5 stars.


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