Pastrix Chapters 6, 7 & 8

Chapter 6: Hurricanes and Humiliation

  • In this chapter Nadia writes about how she was conned, willingly and unwillingly
  • “I had rescued a pregnant, disadvantaged, teenaged African American girl… and I was about to give them a new life. This was a white privileged liberal’s dream, and I was riding high on it.” (Page 59)
  • “Still, of all the betrayals in that circumstance, it was my betrayal of myself that stung the most.” (Page 66)
  • “Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger and serve our neighbor. … Who is that neighbor? Being Christian is much harder than I wish it was.” (Page 67)
  • “I’m haunted by how much my love was based on my need to be seen as heroic, and yet I can’t deny that it did feel like love. A better Christian would love her anyway and still want to help her. A lousy Christian is conflicted and maybe a little hurt.” (Page 67)
  • “God uses our humiliations as much as our victories.”

Chapter 7: I Didn’t Call You for This Truth Bullshit

  • In this chapter Nadia writes about a friendship with Candace that does not work out
  • “We met in an alcohol recovery meeting a few years earlier and became friends based purely on the unlikely number of things we had in common.” (Page 70)
  • “Being a loyal friend is something I haven’t always been good at, so at the time, I was trying to make up for my past dis-loyalties by being (or just making it look like I was) selfless.” (Page 71)
  • Nadia writes about a conversation with her sister after visiting Candace in which her sister says, “you have a limited amount of time and emotional energy in your life, and you are squandering tons of it on this one situation just so you can maintain the idea you like to have of yourself as being a loyal friend.” Nadia responds..”I didn’t call you for this truth bullshit.” (Page 71)
  • “There’s a popular misconception that religion, Christianity specifically, is about knowing the difference between good and evil so that we can choose the good. But being good has never set me free the way truth has. Knowing all of this makes me love and hate Jesus at the same time. Because, when instead of contrasting good and evil, he contrasted truth and evil, I have to think about all the times I’ve substituted being good (or appearing to be good) for truth.” (Page 72)
  • “The truth does crush us, but the instant it crushes us, it somehow puts us back together into something honest. It’s death and resurrection every time it happens. This, to me, is the point of confession and absolution in the liturgy.” (Page 73)
  • Writing about the first time she experienced absolution in liturgy she says she thought it was hogwash. “Why should I care if someone says to me that some God I may or may not really believe in has erased the check marks against me for things I may or may not even think are so-called sins? This obviously is the problem with religion for so many: It makes you feel bad enough that you will need the religion to help you feel good again.” (Page 73)
  • Then she says absolution in liturgy came to mean everything to her. “It gradually began to feel like a moment when truth was spoken, perhaps for the only time all week, and it would crush me and then put me back together.” (Page 73)
  • In talking about the last time she meet with Candace and not being able to tell the truth. “I wish I could say that I had learned how powerful the truth is and that I am unwavering in my commitment to it. But in that moment I couldn’t manage to be good or tell the truth. Instead, I said that I had the friends that I needed. Sometimes we can’t manage to choose the truth or to be good, and in those moments I just hope God comes and does that thing where something is transformed into healing anyway.” (Page 76)

Chapter 8: Clinical Pastoral Education

  • In this chapter Nadia writes about her experience as a hospital chaplain
  • During her first experience in a trauma room she asked a nurse what her job was, and the response was “Your job is to be aware of God’s presence in the room while we do our jobs.” (Page 80)
  • “It wasn’t long before I found myself sensing God’s presence in other rooms, too.” (Page 81)
  • “I was the chaplain, but I didn’t have answers for anyone.” (Page 82)
  • She writes about her emotions of dealing with two young boys who just lost their mother. “You hear a lot of nonsense in hospitals and funeral homes. .. But this is the nonsense spawned from bad religion. And usually when you are grieving and someone says something so senselessly optimistic to you, it’s about them” (Page 83)
  • She writes about reading Marcus Borg’s “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time.” “This was the bonus to liberal Christianity: I could use my reason and believe at the same time. But it only worked for me for a short while. And soon I wanted to experiment with the harder stuff. Admiring Jesus, while a noble pursuit, doesn’t show me where God is to be found when we suffer the death of a loved one or a terrifying cancer diagnosis or when our child is hurt. Admiring and trying to imitate a guy [Jesus] who was really in touch with God just doesn’t seem to bridge the distance between me and the Almighty in ways that help me understand where the hell God is when we are suffering.” (Page 74)
  • Nadia then writes about the image of God she was raised to believe and writes, “this type of thinking portrays God as just as mean and selfish as we are, which feels like it has a lot more to do with our own greed and spite than it has to do with God.” (Page 84)
  • She then writes about being at Good Friday service, which was three days after the accident involving the two young boy and hearing the passion story in John’s Gospel with changed ears. “I listened with the ears of someone who didn’t just admire and want to imitate Jesus, but had felt him present in the room where two motherless boys played on the floor.” (Page 85)
  • “I realized that in Jesus, God had come to dwell with us and share our human story. Even the parts of our human story that are the most painful. … Maybe the Good Friday story is about how God would rather die than be in our sin-accounting business anymore.” (Page 85)
  • “There is simply no knowable answer to the question of why there is suffering. But there is meaning. And for me that meaning ended up being related to Jesus — Emmanuel — which means, “God with us.” We want to go to God for answers, but sometimes what we get is God’s presence.” (Page 86)
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