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  • Pastor Nancy Switzler

Shameless Post 2


I am sending this note from Zion National Park in Utah. This is the second major stop of our 2-week road trip (Bryce Canyon was the first). I am thinking these beautiful National Parks are perfect places to contemplate Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book “Shameless.”

Because, as previously mentioned, she bases her position on God’s goodness in creation. The first major section is titled, “Creation I: The First Blessing.”

While this is a book that explores, or argues, for better understanding of sexuality, I think its lessons expand into all of life. But I recognize that I write from the perspective of one who has not had society (or church) reject her because of sexual identity.

In this section Pastor Nadia writes about her own daughter’s puberty and the historical constraints put upon women (and young girls). This section reminded me of some painful periods of my own adolescence. I hope and pray that we, the church, can learn to be more open and supportive of young people as they struggle with trying to conform.

She also uses the Parable of the Talents in a wonderful way. I’ve always loved this parable! Basically, it is about a rich landowner who gives three servants vast sums of money (each according to their ability) to take care of in his absence. The first two servants do wonderfully with the funds, but the third hides his.


Because he is afraid of the rich landowner. Pastor Nadia’s first point is that “each according to their ability” means that we are all different. Of course! But how often do we remember this?

The second point is about fear of the rich landowner causing the third servant to hide his talents (money).

Her question that is worth pondering, how much do we hurt ourselves and others when sexual behavior (and other behaviors) is taught and regulated by the idea that God will be angry if you do this thing?

I hadn’t thought about the parable in this way, but I always lament when I hear parents tell their young ones, “God will be unhappy with you…” I once had a parent ask me to tell her child this.

I did not! And implored the parent not to do this harmful thing to their child.

The important lesson is that God’s grace is truly a free gift, given out of God’s unconditional love for us. We do not have to adopt a different identity in order to have God love us. So many people have been hurt through the centuries because of unhelpful and unhealthy teaching in the name of God.

Luther’s Small Catechism says we are to “fear and love God…” The fear he is referencing is to hold God in awe. We don’t really use the word fear in this way anymore, so it becomes confusing. But we are not to “fear God” so much that we are unable to live into who we are as wonderfully created humans.

The challenge with this interpretation is that it doesn’t deal with the end of the parable where the fearful servant is cast out for not using his talents. I always struggle with this judgment…and all the judgment parables. But I think reflecting on this is a valuable exercise…and I wonder if, sometimes, the being cast away is not done by God but by Christians who think they are protecting God. Hmmm.

To look at this parable in another way, I wonder how God might be leading ALC to use our own talents for the good of the surrounding community. What thoughts come to mind for you?

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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Shameless: First Post

This is the first post reflecting on Nadia Bolz-Weber's "Shameless".


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