Blessed Are The Agnostics
A blessing for you, and an update from me.
A quick heads up:
Half of this newsletter is an update from me about new stuff I’m up to.
The other half is the Beatitude Benediction which I have given at the end of events all over the world in the last few years and which folks have asked for copies of. Here it is. A gift from me to you. Feel free to print it out, share it, and use it wherever you want.
Like many of you, 2019 was, in some ways, a clarifying year for me.
After the SHAMELESS book tour, I realized I want to continue to create public events that have the feel of an inclusive, welcoming, truth-telling, shame-shattering, revival and that ideally end with everyone dancing to Prince.
After Rachel died, I realized I wanted to figure out a way to start doing what I’ve always been intimidated by, but which came so naturally to her, which is to engage with my audience.
After being on 90 airplanes, I realized I want to be home more!
And after so many years of being under contract to write books, I realized I wanted step off that ride (for a while anyhow) and feel freer to explore and write whatever I felt drawn to – and maybe then have a book come from that place, but on my timeline.
After a year and a half away from House for All Sinners and Saints, I realized I really want to create a new space for conversations around issues of humanity and grace.
And after having the production of my writing, and videos of my content owned by corporations who either do not pay me or pay me a small amount of the profits, I realized that if Beyoncé has taught us anything, it is TO OWN THE MEANS OF OUR CREATIVE PRODUCTION.
So at 50 years of age, as scary as it is, I am attempting to honor that clarity and do new things in new ways.
Shameless Media and The Confessional
To that end, I have started a company called SHAMELESS Media LLC, under which I am producing (and owning!) The Confessional with Nadia Bolz-Weber podcast which will be out in the spring, (distributed by PRX and presented by The Moth – the best partners I could ever hope for).
My hope is that through this podcast, other people’s stories can be a roadmap to freedom from our own shame and that human transformation can be honored. I hope that the truth of our own bullshit can be spoken and a blessing for those who have fucked up can be given. And ultimately, through all of it, I hope that I can feel less alone, and that you can feel less alone.
(More info to come, but my hope is that I can also eventually create fun, soulful, inclusive events around the podcast)
The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber
As promised, this monthly-ish newsletter from me, - Just Throwing It Out There – will still be free! But on Friday, I will start to offer paid subscriptions to The Corners by Nadia Bolz-Weber (through Substack), which will allow folks to access the work I am doing now (in real time, not just every few years when a book comes out), be members of an on-line community of my curating and, in turn, support me in doing that work with full ownership and editorial control.
Monthly posts from me that include stuff I am currently working on.
Monthly Ask Me Anything Q&A sessions (or as I called it, Q & O, because I don't have any answers, but I have a LOT of opinions).
Quarterly book clubs - open threads where we discuss the book-of-the-quarter that deals with a subject I am obsessed with. I already have a first selection, which is Dominion by Tom Holland (club starts in late February, so order the book now if you’re interested or reserve it at your local library!).
Member threads dedicated to conversations with me and with each other (my dream is for folks who join to eventually find each other locally and meet face to face!) This on-line community is one I hope will reflect what the brilliant Mickey ScottBey Jones calls, a Brave Space.
Possible guest postings from some amazing folks (who owe me) :)
Bonus materials from The Confessional with Nadia Bolz-Weber (extra audio of conversations not included in the podcast).
I’m preaching locally here in the Denver area about once a month, so I will post the manuscripts of any sermons I am preaching right now (along with a discussion thread).
A way for people who appreciate my voice to support my work.
And of course, the monthly newsletter!
My hope, with both a podcast devoted to compassionately hearing stories of people’s mistakes and failings, and with The Corners on-line space, is that folks will join me in the all-too-rare celebration of grace and mercy and compassion - not because these things come naturally to me, but because I am in desperate need of them. There is quite enough opportunity out there for the self-righteous, shitty parts of myself to be nurtured and expressed. But what I need and what I have always needed, are spaces that challenge my assumptions, open my heart and increase my compassion. What I need and what I have always needed are spaces where nuance is allowed; where no one is ever only seen as just the worst thing they have done; where the capacity for human beings to be both horrible and beautiful is never underestimated. Where vapid optimism is never mistaken for actual hope. Where needing grace and a power greater than myself is not seen as a failing, but perhaps as wisdom. These are the things I am digging for, hoping for, searching for and my desire is to do it with my readers. Will you join me? (click below for a special offer for founding members)
It’s $5 a month. For your sake and mine, I’ll just go ahead and skip the whole, “that’s just the cost of one Starbucks latte!” thing because it feels insulting and manipulative. (BUT…I will always offer free or discounted subscriptions to anyone who wants to participate but is not financially able to - simply email email@example.com for either a 50% off code or a free subscription!)
For those who are subscribed to the free newsletter and to those who are becoming patrons on Substack, I am deeply grateful for your support. Thank you. - Nadia
(Spanish colonial icon, 18th-19th century)
Maybe the Sermon on the Mount is all about Jesus’ lavish blessing of the people around him on that hillside who his world—like ours—didn’t seem to have much time for: people in pain, people who work for peace instead of profit, people who exercise mercy instead of vengeance.
Maybe Jesus was simply blessing the ones around him that day who didn’t otherwise receive blessing, who had come to believe that, for them, blessings would never be in the cards. I mean, come on, doesn’t that just sound like something Jesus would do? Extravagantly throwing around blessings as though they grew on trees?
So I imagine Jesus standing among us offering some new beatitudes:
Blessed are the agnostics.
Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.
Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears could fill an ocean. Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted anymore.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”
Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers.
Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted.
Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented.
Blessed are the teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek.
You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are the wrongly accused, the ones who never catch a break, the ones for whom life is hard, for Jesus chose to surround himself with people like them.
Blessed are those without documentation. Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.
Blessed are foster kids and special-ed kids and every other kid who just wants to feel safe and loved.
Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions for the sake of people.
Blessed are the burned-out social workers and the overworked teachers and the pro bono case takers.
Blessed are the kindhearted football players and the fundraising trophy wives.
Blessed are the kids who step between the bullies and the weak. Blessed are they who hear that they are forgiven.
Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me when I didn’t deserve it.
Blessed are the merciful, for they totally get it.
I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us all because I believe that is our Lord’s nature. Because, after all, it was Jesus who had all the powers of the universe at his disposal but did not consider his equality with God something to be exploited. Instead, he came to us in the most vulnerable of ways, as a powerless, flesh-and-blood newborn. As if to say, “You may hate your bodies, but I am blessing all human flesh. You may admire strength and might, but I am blessing all human weakness. You may seek power, but I am blessing all human vulnerability.” This Jesus whom we follow cried at the tomb of his friend and turned the other cheek and forgave those who hung him on a cross. Because he was God’s Beatitude—God’s blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong.
God bless you.