Pastrix Chapters 9, 10 & 11

Chapter 9: Eunuchs and Hermaphrodites

  • In this chapter Nadia proposes that the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40 is the story of the conversion of Philip.
  • In talking about this passage in Acts, Nadia says, “The first gentile convert ended up being a black sexual minority.” (Page 89)
  • “I was always told that the message of this text was that we should tell everyone we meet about Jesus because in doing so we might save them. We might convert them.” (Page 89)
  • Nadia is working on a sermon about this text when she encounters a hermaphrodite at a coffee shop.
  • “I was, now a pastor of a GLBTQ “inclusive” congregation, and I felt revulsion at seeing an intersex person. It was humbling to say the least. And it made me face, in a very real way, the limitations of inclusion. If the quality of my Christianity lies in my ability to be more inclusive than the next pastor, things get tricky because I will always, always encounter people — intersex people, Republicans, criminals, Ann Coulter, etc. — whom I don’t want in the tent with me. Always. I only really want to be inclusive of some kinds of people and not others.” (Page 90)
  • “I began to realize that maybe the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch was really about the conversion — not of the eunuch, but of Philip.” (Page 92)
    • The law strictly forbids a eunuch from entering the temple.
    • The eunuch sought God despite the fact that he had heard there was no love for him there.
    • The only command that we know came from God in this instance was for Philip to go and join.
  • “This desire to learn what the faith is from those who have lived it in the face of being told they are not welcome or worthy is far more than “inclusion.” Actually, inclusion isn’t the right word at all, because it sounds like in our niceness and virtue we are allowing “them” to join “us” — like we are judging another group of people to be worthy of inclusion in a tent that we don’t even own.” (Page 93)
  • “I continually need the stranger, the foreigner, the “other” to show me water in the desert.” (Page 93)
  • “I can only look at the seemingly limited space under the tent and think either it’s my job to change people so they fit or it’s my job to extend the roof so that they fit. Either way, it’s misguided because it’s not my tent. It’s God’s tent.” (Page 93)
  • “So in the story of the conversion of Philip and the eunuch is some hope for the church and maybe society itself.” (Page 95)

Chapter 10: Cotton Candy

  • In this chapter we see Nadia so wrapped up with Rally Day that she is unaware of how the Spirit had healed her hurting back
  • “A quaint tradition in Lutheran churches, Rally Day is an effort to get all the families together after the end of the summer to celebrate the beginning of a new year of Sunday school.” (Page 100)
  • “Having a Rally Day event, complete with a cotton candy machine at a church without children, was just the sort of random thing that started getting House for All Sinners and Saints noticed by the ELCA.” (Page 100)
  • There was:
    • A cotton candy machine
    • Six dozen burgers and buns with all the fixings
    • An industrial-size bag of Doritos
    • A couple of cases of soda
  • And Nadia could barely stand up
  • Twenty six people show up
  • Nobody donates money for the food
  • Nadia was pissed
  • “It sounds crazy, and if someone told me this story I’d assume they were lying or delusional. As Stuart’s big drag queen hands lovingly rubbed my lower back and he sweetly asked God to heal me, the muscles in my back went from being a fist to an open hand. The spasms released.” (Page 103)
  • “But then at two a.m. I was startled awake with what can only be described as a bitch slap from the Holy Spirit. My eyes sprang open and out loud I said, “Oh wow.” The force of the realization hit me: My back didn’t hurt. It hadn’t hurt after they prayed for me and it didn’t hurt now as I laid in my bed, startled awake.” (Page 104)
  • Nadia also recalls all of the unexpected outcomes that had occurred during that Rally Day.
  • “I was reminded again of the loaves and fishes. ‘What do we have?’ they asked. ‘We have nothing. Nothing but a few loaves and a couple of fish.’ And they said this as though it were a bad thing. The disciples’ mistake was also my mistake: They forgot that they have a God who created the universe out of ‘nothing,’ that can put flesh on dry bones ‘nothing,’ that can put life in a dusty womb ‘nothing.’ I mean, let’s face it, ‘nothing’ is God’s favorite material to work with.” (Page 104)
  • “People at my table didn’t ask me questions about how they could do HFASS-type stuff at their churches. Instead, they told their own failure stories. With heart and humor I was regaled with tales of badly handled firings and church secretaries with drinking problems and Vacation Bible School nepotism, and I realized that sometimes the best thing we can do for each other is talk honestly about being wrong.” (Page 107)

Chapter 11: Pirate Christian

  • In this chapter Nadia writes about learning to love her enemy
  • “Chris, under the name of Pirate Christian, has a large public following as a heresy hunter. His Pirate Christian Internet radio show broadcast attacks all kinds of Christians who depart even slightly from his own understanding of the faith.” (Page 108)
  • “My liberalness and femaleness and gay-lovingness made me easy plunder for the Pirate.” (Page 109)
  • “Ego and anger often compete for stage time in my head, and inevitably anger cannot be kept under the curtain for long.” (Page 110)
  • Nadia writes about her meeting Chris, the Pirate Christian in a receiving line at a conference.
  • “It’s weird Nadia,” he said. “We obviously disagree about a lot, but something tells me that out of all these liberal Christians, you and I have a couple things we might agree on.” (Page 111)
  • “I looked him in the eye and said, “Chris, I have two things to say to you. One, you are a beautiful child of God. Two, I think that maybe you and I are desperate enough to hear the Gospel that we can even hear it from each other.” (Page 112)
  • “When these kinds of things happen in my life, things that are so clearly filled with more beauty or redemption or reconciliation than my cranky personality and stony heart could ever manufacture on their own, I just have no other explanation than this: God.” (Page 112)
  • Love your neighbor and hate your enemies is not in the Old Testament
  • “‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ sounds so familiar.. I’m pretty sure it’s in my heart. It’s link in my DNA.” (Page 114)
  • “I think loving our enemies might be too central to the Gospel — to close to the heart of Jesus — for it to wait until we mean it.” (Page 115)
  • Nadia then goes on the write about being “attacked” by liberal Christians because she supported Sojourners magazine’s decision to not sell ad space to Believe Out Loud.
  • “I may have gotten an ego boost from being attacked by a conservative heresy hunter, but it felt awful to be attacked by my own people.” (Page 118)
  • She then describes getting a phone call of support from Chris. “Chris said that he loved me and would pray for me. His enemy.” (Page 119)
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