I thought the joy of Doritos Locos Tacos coming together couldn’t be rivaled. When two things I love–that are separate–find a way of marrying, it just rocks my socks.
Similarly, thi Saturday I couldn’t wait for two of my favorites, On Being, and Nadia Bolz-Weber to get together for a radio-show recording first date. The sometimes crass, always frank, frequently funny, and deeply thoughtful author of Pastrix, didn’t disappoint. Certainly the “attention getting” parts of her personality–her tattoos, her mouth, her sarcasm–got their fair share of air time with the masterful Krista Tippett steering the interview, but what struck me most, was the way that Nadia sang Lutheran theology in a way that wasn’t dodgy or stuffy, but alive and compelling.
When she talked about Luther’s claim that we’re 100% saint and 100% sinner. . .
When she spoke of grace as something she’d experienced viscerally. . .
When she said her parish embraced wonder more than certainty. . .
When she gave thanks for a church where she didn’t have to check her brain at the door. . .
Her voice gained passion and excitement. So did my ears.
I’ve always wanted a way to somehow turn up the volume on the theology that I love, these beautifully written, old understandings of God that still sing in my contemporary heart, but all too often I take the German Lutheran stance that smiles inwardly, but quietly, never wanting to offend, always wanting to embrace others. For me the beautiful gray nature of Lutheranism has always seemed to whisper; the soul-ringing middle-of-the-road third-way of understanding has been given the press of a middle name. In a presidential election it’s can be hard to listen for the moderates. Yet, Nadia spoke with such graceful boldness, that I couldn’t help but feel my own Lutheran shoulders straighten as she spoke of God’s grace being sufficient for communities, as she owned it and didn’t apologize.
When a train interrupted the interview, she led the bare-footed tent-revival group in a harmony-rich acapella rendition of Amazing Grace. As I stood, adding my own harmony to the recording on my iPhone in my kitchen with toddler daughter in my arms, it was one of the most beautiful moments I can remember in my own home.
And in that quiet thin space it was like standing in God’s smile. . . my favorite place to be.