Nadia Bolz-Weber Talks Tattoos, Resurrection, and God's Disruption (video)

Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 4:50am

Nadia Bolz-Weber Talks Tattoos, Resurrection, and God's Disruption (video)

"That's kind of creepy."

That was Nadia Bolz-Weber's off-the-cuff, comic response to Krista telling the tattooed Lutheran pastor that she's been following her for quite some time. Every so often, Krista's interviews should be seen as much as heard. Her conversation with Nadia Bolz-Weber is one of these essential moments. (Yes, I'm biased.)

Their energy is dynamic. The enthusiasm of the crowd, palpable. Humor and laughter fills the big-top tent and infuses the conversation. And, it's what didn't make it into the produced podcast that shouldn't be missed: an interruption, a disruption that usually is an event-killer. But, somehow, in the context of the Wild Goose Festival, it became a moment of opportunity and community bonding together through communal song. What's the song? Watch and see... and sing along.

This August our production crew traveled to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. We arranged a series of interviews with many great thinkers, including the Indigo Girls, Brian McLaren, and other folks we've had on our "big list" of guests. Nadia Bolz-Weber was also one of them. She's the pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, a church where a chocolate fountain, a blessing of the bicycles, and serious liturgy come together. She's a face of the Emerging Church. She's redefining what church is, with deep reverence for tradition.

This is the unedited, unabridged version of their interview, recorded with a live audience at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina. And it's not to be missed.


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Trent Gilliss

is the cofounder of On Being / KTPP and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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WishI could hear it, alas no play.
Can the transcript be posted, please?

Trent Gilliss's picture

The video won't work for you, Deborah? I'd hate for you to miss it because of a technical malfunction. Here's a transcript of the produced podcast, if this might be of help:

This one wouldn't open. Maybe that's a message.....

Sadly, the link doesn't work for me either. I heard the podcast, but wanted to see it also.

I went to Vimeo and searched for it. should work

Thanks, Mike, as that Vimeo link worked.


This link works, thank you!!

I can't get the video to play, either. I thought there may be a problem with my browser, so I tried another browser. Still no luck. Maybe it's a problem on your end, Trent.

Woke up hearing the interview on the radio this morning, came here and watched the whole video. Great stuff.

People like Nadia Bolz-Weber help me not to despair about Christianity. Thanks.

Pure magic, that wake up to the radio with Kirsta Tippett thing!
That is how I discovered and came to love, John O'Donohue.
If we are 'meant' to hear something, the Universe will find a
way to get our attention. I know, right? (Of course you have to
be WILLING first, me thinks.)

No go. Won't play.

Thank you for sharing this. I had not previously heard of Nadia, but am now interested in learning more about her journey, not necessarily of becoming a pastor, but of being human. She's so eloquent at sharing both her mistakes and triumphs, and recognizing the power of both in making her a better person.

The video works perfectly on iPhone. Great program.

I can play it on my old iPad, and it is so worth hearing. Thank you.

Wish this would play . . .

No video, no audio, so sad

Thank you Mike, that vimeo link is live.

I was looking forward to this interview---but it far exceeded my hopes. I will listen many, many times. Thank you!!!!

A touching, heartfelt and reverent expose on the emerging church. I have never heard the Gospel preached in the middle of a NPR show but I did today. I also understand more about tattoos now. I will pray for Nadias Bishop. He/she needs it. What a voice for redemption, grace, and the love of God. Thank you for this piece.

Played almost to the end, about 20 minutes, and stopped playing.

doesn't work for me either... and the link to the song to "sing along" goes nowhere :-(

IA lot of very thoughtful and thought provoking comments in this interview. One I have been thinking about is the faith of the community and the need for each other. When she says that when God does not give us too much to handle that the community sometimes carries us through (won't play for me either so I do not have exact words), it makes me think about the miracle of feeding the 5000. Wasn't it through the total and complete love of Jesus that their hearts were open and there was enough food to share for everyone to eat and still have surplus? We go to heaven together with our brothers and sisters caring for them and being carried by them.

Won't play for me either.

I couldn't get the Bortz-Weber video clip to play.

click "Vimeo" on the window and it will take you to the Vimeo site where the video should play - or go to this link:

I'm a 30 year old woman whose faith tradition is also Church of Christ. I bowed out of church life a few years ago after being greatly disheartened. This interview was a rare glimpse of joy and optimism that I desperately wanted. Thank you.

She's very engaging and entertaining, and I love it that she says her innovation needs to be grounded in tradition and she’s pro-participation and there is a need for a charismatic leader like herself to be tempered by the Lutheran structure. But thumb through her sermons on her blog, and her theology is quite standard. To me, she’s only changed the trappings of church. I see nothing “emerging” there.

I didn't watch the video but hearing this woman on NPR was profound. She completely rearranged the Jesus/God paradigm and I believe HER version of it. Her interpretation almost makes me think I could be a Christian, but alas, there are so many mean ones I can't join that club.
Her words particularly hit home when she said- there is something about everyone's life that feels out of control. That is true of everyone I know, including me, and it was deeply refreshing to hear she believes it's a commonly held experience.
My mind is bigger having heard this interview.

I am so disappointed in that every attempt to view the video of Nadia Bolz-Weber failed to play. Hopefully in the future this won't reoccur. It was a wonderful podcast to listen to.

A mother , whose 3 year old daughter has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, writes into an advice columnist and asks “Is there a God?” and “If there is, how could God possibly allow my beautiful, innocent daughter to suffer and die?” The advice columnist wisely avoids any simplistic answers to a couple of difficult questions and describes a feeble attempt to tell her own daughter about Jesus and matters of faith.
Behind the mother’s question about God is a deep hope that her daughter will be saved from such a fate; that some type of supernatural power will intervene and save the daughter from suffering and save the mother from the profound loss that is inevitably experienced by someone who loses a child. Another way to frame the question is “What is the nature of this strange and mysterious power that seems to control our fates. Is this a power that can be trusted? Is this a power that could be described as loving? What relationship do I take to this mysterious reality when tragedy strikes my life? How do I live, with a sense of trust, in a world where innocent children sometimes get sick and die?
Life is what it is. One thing for sure is that you and I are not in control of it. We often feel like tiny boats in a giant ocean. Life is an incredible gift to be celebrated and it takes place in a world that is at times full of deep loss and tragedy. Sometimes, it is through the loss and tragedy that we come to experience the joy that can happen on the other side of that experience. It is only in the midst of brokenness that we experience wholeness.
The story of Jesus that the advice columnist struggles to tell, centers around this very happening. In a central part of the story, God does not intervene in the rescue of his own beloved child. The amazing thing happens later in a dark cave where those who followed and loved Jesus had given up all hope. After the death of Jesus, his followers experienced an aliveness when they broke bread together and when they walked down a lonely road together. It was an aliveness that could not be defeated by death. It was an aliveness that transformed their tremendous sense of loss and pain. This sense of aliveness seemed to overshadow their feelings of sadness, darkness and grief. That sense of aliveness had the final word regarding what took place.
Like the skeptics, I do not believe in a God who wipes away all tragedy. I also do not presume to have much insight into why things happen the way they do. Any attempt to explain events, especially the tragic kind, seem to come up short. There are events that are not to be fully understood. I do not believe in a God who does my bidding like some cosmic bellhop that comes running whenever I pull the rope. I place my trust in a Mystery that I do not fully understand. This mysterious reality doesn't seem too interested in my judgement about the way things ought to be. Tragedy still occurs. Despair is sometimes the predominant experience. I can also place my trust in a mystery that fills us with aliveness in the midst of that very loss.

This is terrific stuff, loved it. Spirituality is about LIFE and Surprise!

I also , interestingly enough, found what Nadia said as deeply Catholic theology ( not surprising since Luther was RC.)

I don't usually wake up that early, but the day this interview ran, I did, and I think it was meant. What a wonderful interview with an amazing pastor. Watching the video, I'm wondering what's up with the weird green stripey graphic that seems to obscure Pastor Bolz-Weber for the entire video? Is this an issue with my computer, or was this done on purpose? It's annoying. I'd like to be able to see her normally.

"Divine Heart Transplant" YES!!!

As a visual artist I'm always asking "What does God look like?" I'm aware that the image in western minds of God and Christ is predominantly based on the work of artists from the renaissance, who were paid by the Catholic Church to depict heaven, angels Christ and hell. When I think its time to re-imagine these iconic images I end up painting quirky scenes from life. I think God is telling me that he is everything that our imaginations can create. Which is why I find Nadia Bolz-Weber so refreshing as she has not boxed God in, she allows him to be God, which is such an expansive way to think.

I believe we all need to sit down and re-define what Christianity really is. We were brought up to think like a saint and act in a Christian manner. "Being good at not doing certain things" Yet, I see life as a gift that God had given us. We were born to sin, to make mistakes, to learn, and to live. Nadia Bolz-Weber states that the Christian life is a continual life of death and resurrection. We are here on this planet to see the underside and to see God. I believe that we all are simultaneously sinner and saint, like Pastor Nadia. We contain a certain amount of capacity for self-destruction and destructive towards others, just as well as the ability to be kind. Everyday is a fighting battle to reveal who we want to be at the end of our crossroads. Everybody has their own path to walk on, and different people encounter different obstacles.

Nadia has gone through many trials and tribulations that have made her who she is today. She was brought up as a conservative Christian yet still drifted away from God. She was a comedian who fell under the influence of being a drug addict. She had gone through so many depressing moments, but her faith had always lifted her spirit. She preaches from her scars to reveal the truth about herself. Nadia's testimony has given me more faith and hope for humanity.

Who wouldn't watch this interview? I mean, aside from all my other judgmental assumptions, I just wanted to hear part of Nadia's story. And what a story it is. As one of those "Dockers-wearing-
Sunday-go-to-meeting" individuals who has done some serious theological questioning this interview is like cool mountain spring water on hot Southern afternoon. Nadia get's it in my opinion and in this cynical day and age this interview is a form resurrection in and of itself. So grateful you posted the video!

I have tattooed many church / religious people in my Wilmington Tattoo Shop (True Heart Tattoos) and they tell me that their church doesn't come down on them too hard when the Pastor see them. I even tattooed one of the Pastors. She did not get one somewhere visible but still got one. BTW I am from the Blue Ridge MTs!

Very refreshing. One thing I wanted to note is that when the pastor is wounded, the parishioners should step up. No one is perfect, in body or in mind. Our Pastor became very sick. We paid his salary so he could live until he retired. Was a bit less than a year. We were glad to. He had taken care of us for years.