on 'naughty' words
'I think it's hilarious how serious people are about [curse words]. Like certain words are naughty, right? And if you're a pastor, you shouldn't say words that are naughty.
"I think if you're a pastor, you shouldn't be unkind to people. I feel that's fair enough, and sometimes those words can be used to be unkind or cruel to people. So fair enough. But to say, like, just in sort of colorful, humorous expression that there's some list of words that God said you're never supposed to [say]?
"It's like if I said something's 'bloody awful,' nobody here would care, but if I was in the U.K., that would make me a bad Christian. Well, you can't really have standards like that, right? It just doesn't even make sense anymore.
"But the thing about that is that there is so much sort of controlled, priggish Christianity out there. That if somebody is offended, [if] they cannot hear my message because I said the word 'shit,' if that's true, the good news for them is that there are countless books and articles and websites that are geared just for them ... The Christian publishing world is their oyster. ...
"But there's a lot of people who are not priggish about their faith or their lives or their selves and their sort of moral uprightness, right? And who are interested maybe in some of these ideas of grace, of community, of suffering, and they aren't at all offended. They think it's funny that someone would use those words, and actually it makes them relax a little bit, to tell you the truth. So you know, that's my audience."
on 'getting closer to God'
'I was in a Q&A ... and this earnest young seminarian said, 'Pastor Nadia, what do you do personally to get closer to God?' And before I even knew I'd said it, I was like, 'What? Nothing. Why would I do that? That's sounds like a horrible idea. I wish he'd leave me alone half the time. Like getting closer feels super sketchy.'
"It's not like this fluffy sort of ecstatic 'me and Jesus' warm feeling when these things happen. It's like it's almost always just knocked me on my ass, to where I have to reevaluate an idea I have or something about my life, or I'm forced to look at something I don't want to look at, or forced to sort of again love someone I don't even like. ... It's always something I don't want. I mean, I'm resisting it at every turn, not trying to make it happen.
"So in a way that's how I know it's real. It's not happening because I'm seeking it out or sort of purifying myself into some sanctified version of a human that's now so close to God.
"You know, I think that there are two different versions of Christianity, broadly speaking. There's the one that basically says the focus of the Gospel is the life of the Christian. Leading a certain life. ... The good news is that you can adopt a very particular lifestyle and way of speaking and, you know, listen to K-LOVE in your car and have really particular views on what other people should and shouldn't do in their life and have your quiet time and basically you can sanctify yourself so that you really are no longer ever in the need of grace. ...
"Then the other way of sort of growing into the Christian faith, or like, you know, what a mature Christian looks like, is that the longer that you're exposed to this, the longer you're in this thing, the one thing you know for certain is not a doctrine or what the 'right' lifestyle is. The one thing that you are more and more convicted of is how desperately in need of God's grace you are."
on Christianity and Western individualism
'I think we've really seen Western individualism run amok in religion to varying degrees. Even to just talk about Jesus as 'my personal Lord and Savior,' like he's in your Rolodex between your personal trainer and your personal shopper and your personal, whatever, assistant. 'Oh and then there's my personal lord and savior!' So it's just all about me.
"What happens is there's this tyranny that's created of, 'I can only sort of rest spiritually if I'm certain that I believe all the right things in all the right ways, and that it's really down to me as an individual getting everything right. And it's about me as an individual bearing the suffering of my life in the right way and witnessing to the Gospel in the right way.'
"I don't think it was ever really set up to be like that. That is such a Western sort of post-enlightenment way of thinking that I don't think is in any way implicit in Christianity. But we're so mired in that thinking in our culture that it's so hard to see that it's not just something that we have to always default to.
"That's why I think Christian community can be really subversive in these things. Like showing up for people we don't like. Like gathering around the table with people who we wish weren't invited around the table with us. Being present and maybe even having the opportunity of being changed by somebody we wouldn't have chosen out of a catalog. And getting to share our lives."