Pastrix Chapters 3, 4 & 5

Chapter 3: Albion Babylon

  • In this chapter Nadia writes about being part of a community.
  • “Church, for all its faults, was the only place outside my own home were people didn’t gawk at me or make fun of me.” (Page 23)
  • “Which is why it sucked that there were other reasons I’d eventually not fit in.” (Page 23)
  • “Belonging to the Church of Christ — and therefore, being a Christian — mostly meant being really good at not doing things. … The better you were at not doing these things, the better a Christian you were.” (Page 23)
  • “..the Church of Christ I was raised in was a community. As churchgoers, our lives were shared.” (Page 26)
  • “Unlike my feelings toward the Christian fundamentalism from which I would soon part ways, I never stopped valuing the spiritual weirdness of hospitality and community. … I was looking for a community in which all of me would actually fit in.” (Page 26)
  • Nadia writes about sneaking off to a nearby Quaker meeting, and notes, “Still, although the Quakers were a community, I wasn’t really part of it. I was more of a spectator.” (Page 28)
  • “This experience (living at Albion Babylon) taught me that a community based on the idea that everyone hates rules is, in the end, just as disappointing and oppressive as a community based on the ability to follow rules.” (Page 29)

Chapter 4: La Femme Nadia

  • In this chapter Nadia writes about how she believes God “plunked her down” on a different path, and allowed not to die in exchange for working for God.
  • Have you watched Le Femme Nikita?
  • “When you can’t control something — like how if I take one drink all bets are off no matter what motivation I have for controlling myself — it’s easier to arrange life in which it looks like you’ve chosen it all, as opposed to facing the truth: You have lost your ability to choose any of it.” (page 36)
  • “I was still looking for an affirmation that I wasn’t an alcoholic, so that, dear Jesus, I could go drink again.”
  • “And these people talked about God a lot. But never about an angry God who judged or condemned or was always disappointed in people. The God they spoke of was not the God I was taught to fear.” (Page 36)
  • “Her relationship to God wasn’t doctrinal. It was functional.” (Page 36)
  • “..I was sitting in a twelve-step meeting in an upstairs Masonic lodge when someone shared about something he had rad in the Bible that week that really spoke to his sobriety. I stood up and walked out. The Bible had been the weapon of choice in the spiritual gladiatorial arena of my youth.” (Page 37)
  • “..the connection — the deep, ongoing, and personal connection people like Margery had with God, a power greater than their alcoholic selves — was in no way based on piety or righteousness. It was based solely on something I could related to a hell of a lot more: desperation.” (Page 38)
  • “Getting sober never felt like I had pulled myself up by my own spiritual bootstraps. It felt instead like I was on one path toward self-destruction and God pulled me off of it by the scruff of my collar, me hopelessly kicking and flailing and saying, ‘Screw you, I’ll take the destruction please.'” (Page 40)

Chapter 5: Thanks, ELCA!

  • In which Nadia sums up Lutheran theology in one chapter at less than the cost of a Lutheran seminary education.
  • “At the time I didn’t know it would take more to escape black-and-white thinking than just no longer attending your parent’s church. The church had provided me a sorting system, which was now ingrained. (Page 43)
  • Nadia writes about her first date with her future husband. He says, “Well, my heart for social justice is rooted in my Christian faith.” Nadia responds, “Um, what? I just stared at him saying nothing.” (Page 43)
  • “I soon learned that there were actually a whole world of Christians who take Matthew 25 seriously.” (Page 44)
  • “I had never experienced liturgy before. But here the congregation said things together during the service. And they did stuff: stood, sat, knelt, crossed themselves, went up to the altar for communion, like choreographed sacredness.” (Page 45)
  • “Something about the liturgy was simultaneously destabilizing and centering: my individualism subverted by being joined to other people through God to find who I was. Somehow it happened through God. One specific, divine force. (Page 46)
  • “Most of what I had been taught by Christian clergy was that I was created by God, but was bad because of something some chick did in the Garden of Eden, and that I should try really hard to be good so that God, who is an angry bastard, won’t punish me. Grace had nothing to do with it. I hadn’t learned about grace from the church.” (Page 47)
  • On page 48 she writes what Pastor Ross taught her about grace.
  • “God’s grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings.” (Page 49)
  • Nadia then writes about learning how Pastor Ross was removed from the official clergy roster of the ELCA, and how this made her feel: “It feels like the rug of hope that the church might actually be something beautiful and redemptive was pulled out from under me.” (Page 51)
  • Pastor Ross responds: “God is still at work redeeming us and making all things new even in the midst of broken people and broken systems and that, despite any idealism otherwise, it had always been that way.” (Page 51)
  • Her husband Matthew says, “There’s not enough wrong with it to leave and there’s just enough wrong with it to stay…. Fight to change it.” (Page 52)
  • “Every human community will disappoint us, regardless of how well-intentioned or inclusive. But I am totally idealistic about God’s redeeming work in my life and in the world.” (Page 54)
  • “If they choose to leave when we don’t meet their expectations, they won’t get to see how the grace of God can come in and fill the holes left by our community’s failure, and that’s just too beautiful and too real to miss.” (Page 54)
  • “What makes Lutherans blessed is not, as I once thought, that they’re somehow different from the people in the Church of Christ where I was raised. Rather, what makes us all blessed is that, like the landowner in the parable, God comes and gets us, taps us on the shoulder, and says, ‘Pay attention, this is for you.’ Dumb was we are, smart and faithful as we are, just as we are.” (Page 56)
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