Saturday, February 27, 2016

On Accidental Saints

Last year (2015, for those keeping track) at Lent, my church picked two books for the Lenten book group. One was Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz-Weber, and the other was Desmond Tutu's Made for Goodness. Well, I was in college up to my eyebrows, and the book group ended up not having its last meeting, and I got severely behind in my reading. I didn't pick up either book again. Here are my first and last posts on the books.

The rest of this has spoilers, so, if you're not into spoilers for Accidental Saints, you should stop reading here.

So, now that college is all but over and I have more spare time, I went ahead and finished Accidental Saints. You can check out my review on GoodReads, but I wanted to add something that really struck me about the last 3/4 of this book. It was the chapter that dealt with Nadia's friend Bruce's drunk driving accident.

Nadia had befriended Bruce, a Bishop in the Lutheran church, whose wife was dying of cancer. Some years later, something bad happens. Nadia writes,
"In a brief exchange on instant message, I learned that, two nights earlier, Bruce got behind the wheel of his car with what tests would later show to be a higher than legal blood-alcohol level, lost control, and hit and killed a fifty-two-year-old mother of three. And by the time I found out, from my luxurious room in a resort in Mexico, Bruce was sitting alone in jail."
This chapter so spoke to me. I still often think of my bishop, who also got behind the wheel of her car with what tests would later show to be a far higher than legal blood-alcohol-level, wasn't paying attention, and struck and killed a 41-year-old father of father of two.

It was hard to know what to pray for - Tom Palermo, his family, and cyclists everywhere, or my suffragan Bishop Heather Cook, her family, and prisoners everywhere. Of course I prayed for all of the above. I wrestled with anger at the bishop, I wrestled with disappointment in a church leader, I worried about the divide this might drive between often liberal-atheist-cyclists and drivers and the church.

Nadia talks in this chapter about the need for mercy and the remorse Peter must have felt as he swam up to Jesus and proclaimed three times that he loved him. She writes, "We simply have to cling tightly to the truth that God can redeem it." I'm still struggling with that one.

I know Jesus being resurrected is supposed to make it all okay - that the resurrection makes everything okay. It washes away all our sins - as Nadia might say, mine, yours, Heather's, Peter's. But that's hard to swallow. It's hard to not still feel a little angry and a little lost and a little heartbroken.