Book Review: Accidental Saints
Author: Nadia Bolz-Weber
Publisher: Convergent Books ISBN: 9781601427557
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
This was the first book I’ve read from Nadia Bolz-Weber. I’ve watched a few of her talks on the internet over the years, but I had not gotten around to reading her book Pastrix before I had this book, Accidental Saints, offered for my review. I mention this for the point that I had limited personal knowledge to her message and communication style, although I was familiar with internet chatter about her.
It is easy to form opinions from the banter of others and while I try to stay objective in my perceptions about “stuff” and other people, I am influenced by the circles in which I travel. I freely admit that I am a bit more conservative with my interpretation and expression of the Christian faith; consequently, I was a bit cautious of the progressive posture held by Nadia Bolz-Weber when I started Accidental Saints. While I was not surprised by what I read, I was surprised by how much I agreed with and how much I was ministered to by Nadia’s experiences and sharing.
Nadia’s writing style is very open. She’s transparent and bluntly honest or so it seems. If profanity offends you, then this might not be on your summer reading list. The language can be a bit salty at times, but that is also “real world” and the stories in Accidental Saints are real… as are our own emotions, thoughts, responses, and reactions. Similarly, I don’t hold the same theological positions as Bolz-Weber on several doctrinal issues, but then…I can say that about my own denomination as well. Regardless of whether I hold the same theological positions, I was blessed repeatedly by the accounts shared and the spiritual insights gleaned through them.
I received an Advanced Reading Copy for my examination, so I’m not entirely sure the final printing will be in the same format, but I’ll share what I read nonetheless. The book seems to loosely follow a year-in-the-life of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, the church pastored by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Chapter one begins with All Saints Day on the Liturgical Calendar (Nov. 1) and flows pretty much through the high points of the Christian Calendar to the following year All Saints Day. Personal anecdotes walk the reader through the church year and spiritual insights gleaned through the lives of Bolz-Weber and many of the congregants that share community in House for all Sinners and Saints.
The ARC ends with a couple appendices that include discussion questions for group readings and a Q&A with the author, Bolz-Weber.
My overall impressions are very favorable and I’m inclined to get my hands on a copy of Pastrix, as there are several allusions to the book, which incite my curiosity. Profanity does not freak me out, so that didn’t affect my view of what I was reading, but it is something to be aware of in case you are bothered by it. I am also glad I entered into the reading with relative objectivity, because there are some great stories and beautiful spiritual insights to be gleaned here. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read and review the book; I don’t think it would be appreciated by everyone in my circle of influence, but I will recommend it where I think it appropriate. Final ranking 4 of 5 stars.