In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber shares her relationship with religion that’s refreshingly frank.
Nadia, a former addict and stand-up comedian, founded the House for All Sinners & Saints church in Denver, Colorado, in 2008. She led the congregation for a decade, then retired from church leadership to continue her work as a public theologian. She’s also the author of three New York Times bestselling books in which she considers the nature of sex, pleasure, spirituality–and even shame.
She explores and embraces a pretty expansive worldview. I find her fascinating–from her “Sarcastic Lutheran” social handles to “The Confessional” podcast she hosts–and wanted to get her unique perspective on fasting, lack and going without.
On Fasting: “My own profound experience of fasting actually isn’t part of the Christian tradition,” Nadia explains. “It’s just 48 hours of prayer and fasting, and I’m outside on the ridge of this mountain, not a mountain, but the hills. With just a bedroll. For two days. I stay in one spot. Being a New York Times bestselling author does jack shit for you.”
On the Body: “It’s baffling to me that Christianity became such a body hating, pleasure-hating religion, when the whole story behind Christianity is, God decided to have a human body,” she says. “And then we say they’re evil if we actually believe God decided out of all things to slip into skin and walk among us. It’s just crazy to me.”
On Sex: “I was walking down the street in London, all this stuff is swirling in my head, and I was just like so amazed by how good it was for me to be having sex again,” she says. “And then I thought, “Why did the church make me sign a paper saying I wouldn’t do this. How is it better for my church if I’m not getting laid?” That makes no sense whatsoever.”
In her most recent book, “Shameless: A Sexual Reformation: A Case for Not Feeling Bad About Feeling Good (About Sex)“ she writes about the complicated relationship people have with sex and pleasure, and Christianity’s often distorted reality of that.
Listen on to our conversation and learn how to sift through life’s mixed messages about faith and pleasure to find what brings you personal meaning.
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Follow Along with the Transcript
- Website: nadiabolzweber.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/sarcasticlutheran
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarcasticlutheran/
- Twitter: twitter.com/sarcasticluther
- What’s a Lutheran versus all the other flavors of Christianity – 1:34
- I describe grace as that freight train that delivers into my life all the most beautiful, transformative and totally on unearnable things like mercy and love and forgiveness, endless second chances, a perfect peach in summer. – 5:23
- Why do you think the church has tried to control sex for so long? – 9:05
- Women are very candid in the way they talk to each other about sex in a way that I have found that men aren’t as often. – 10:56
- Restriction is the fastest path to fetishization. So to tell people in roles of spiritual leadership that they have to completely not be sexual, you’re setting up an entire system for abuse. – 15:38
- Prayer and fasting, and I’m outside on the ridge of this hills. With just a bedroll. For two days. Just I stay in one spot. Being a New York Times bestselling author does jack shit for you. – 17:20
- I could hear different bird songs around me and be aware of and start identifying how they were different. – 21:27
- You can’t appreciate how like beautiful your lover’s body is when you just streamed four hours of porn. – 25:02
- What’s happening in there with Jesus being a glutton and a drunkard, and why you called the chapter that? – 27:53
- Interestingly enough, that idea of creationism, that there’s a literal seven-day creation, that sort of scriptural fundamentalism is actually a reaction to the enlightenment. – 37:02
- Science is one way of saying what’s true, but it’s not the only truth. And anybody who has a spiritual path or spiritual experiences knows this. – 39:42
- I only just started meditating a couple months ago, and very begrudgingly. So somehow because my friend said that I could drink coffee and sit in a chair, now I’m meditating every day. – 41:19
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