The Saturday Reading List: Accidental Saints

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber


The Stats:

  • Publication Date: September 8, 2015
  • Nonfiction, memoir, spirituality, Christianity, faith, female pastor
  • 3.5/5
  • Warnings: If you have a serious problem with female pastors then this book isn’t for you. Also, it might help to have some previous knowledge of Christian teachings and theology or else some parts won’t make sense. However if you read the book of John in the Bible and have Wikipedia open you should be good.

From Amazon:

“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 pastor stubbornly, sometimes hilariously, resists the God she feels called to serve. But God keeps showing up in the least likely of people—a church-loving agnostic, a drag queen, a felonious Bishop and a gun-toting member of the NRA.

As she lives and worships alongside these “ac­cidental saints,” Nadia is swept into first-hand en­counters with grace—a gift that feels to her less like being wrapped in a warm blanket and more like being hit with a blunt instrument. But by this grace, people are trans­formed in ways they couldn’t have been on their own.

In a time when many have rightly become dis­illusioned with Christianity,Accidental Saints dem­onstrates what happens when ordinary people share bread and wine, struggle with scripture together, and tell each other the truth about their real lives. This unforgettable account of their faltering steps toward wholeness will ring true for believer and skeptic alike.

Told in Nadia’s trademark confessional style, Accidental Saints is the stunning next work from one of today’s most important religious voices.”

Zo’s Review:

I wasn’t really sure what I was to expect when I first picked up Accidental Saints. However, being a book by a female pastor definitely helped put this high on my “To Read” list.

After reading Accidental Saints, I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about the book. Do I like it? Do I hate it? I honestly don’t know. Nonetheless, I believe a sign of a good – or at least decent book – is whether or not you continue to think about what you read long after you’re done reading. I finished Nadia Bolz-Weber‘s book a few days ago and I’m still thinking about it so, that’s definitely an interesting outcome.

Okay, let’s dive right into this.

When the book cover described Nadia Bolz-Weber as “tattooed, angry, and profane,” I had to resist from rolling my eyes. As someone who has identifies as Christian, I’ve read waaaay too many “trying to be hip” type books by older Christians that were instantly a turn off. There was a certain amount of skepticism as I began reading Accidental Saints. And I’ll be honest, the first chapter or two rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed like Bolz-Weber was constantly rubbing it in my face that she wasn’t the typical pastor – well, in other ways than being a female pastor – and there were a few times where I wanted to put this book in a pile of modern cliched Christian themed books.

I decided to keep reading, however, and this line stuck out:

“…it made me think that maybe we simply don’t want our leaders to have needs. Maybe it’s not only the leaders who think they should be perfect; maybe it’s also their followers who expect them to have it all together. Maybe we want the people who are for us and lead us to not be like us, to not struggle like us, because if we realize they, too, are hurting and needy, then maybe the spell – the illusion that we’re okay, that we’re in good hands – breaks.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber

I think it was at this point that I realized that any chaffing I was feeling in regards to the experiences Bolz-Weber was sharing was because many times the moments she shared with her readers didn’t have a definitive nicely tied up ending. As someone who struggles with a need to have everything nicely tied up, it was somewhat revealing of the messy areas of my own life and how you could have years of studying and teaching the Bible and still be unsure and still be messy. Was Accidental Saints the most mind blowing story of faith I’ve ever read? No and it shouldn’t be. However, like any testimony – when one shares their own experience with others – it gives a weird sense of peace that reminds me to get out of my own head and remember that other people are going through similar things in their life and are making mistakes despite their age and experience. In her own way, Nadia Bolz-Weber became an accidental saint kind of for me.

Now, would I recommend this book to anyone? No. I mean, anyone can read it if they want to. No one is stopping you. I’m not. However, I think this is one of those type of books that needs to be read at the right time and the right place in a reader’s life. Also, though Bolz-Weber does try to explain anything that is too submerged in Christian-ese, there are still moments where I mentally made notes as to whether someone who had no Christian background at all would understand some of the implied references in this book. And that’s fine if they don’t. First and foremost, I believe this book is just Bolz-Weber sharing her experiences, no other agenda other than how she believes she has seen her faith work in her life.

Overall, Accidental Saints shows the many people that can come into a person’s life and how they can change someone in the smallest, unexpected, but sometimes the most impactful ways. It’s a pretty easy read and though it does sometimes cross the lines into the cliche, I do not doubt the impact that these real experiences had on Nadia Bolz-Weber’s faith. Personally, I think this book is at least something to check out for young introverted Christians like myself who find their faith important to them but sometimes struggle with finding grace for themselves and others.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

What do you all think? Have you read Accidental Saints already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.


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