Discussion Questions for Nadia Bolz-Weber: The Insight of Outsiders
1. At the beginning of the episode, Kate describes Nadia as the kind of person that she wants tell all of her horrible problems to. Not the fun secrets, but the genuinely awful stuff. Who are those people in your life that you want to tell all your horrible secrets? What makes them trustworthy in that way?
2. The title of this first Episode is, “The Insight of Outsiders.” According to Nadia and Kate, how does suffering sometimes make us outsiders? In life? In the Church? Is there a time in your life where you felt like an outsider? How did that experience change you? What insight has adversity given you?
3. In reflecting on the twelve-step community that shaped her ministry, Nadia observes that she experienced, “people speaking honestly about their lives and connecting to God and to one another so much more frequently in church basements than in church sanctuaries.” What do you think she means by that? What communities in your life are places of deep connection and belonging?
4. Nadia describes faith as, “a team sport” rather than an individual competition. What do you think about this idea that faith is a team sport? Who is on your team? Was there a time in your life when someone carried faith for you? Is there a time when you carried faith for someone else?
5. One of the consistent themes in Nadia’s ministry is being unafraid to tell the truth (about ourselves and our lives in the world) in community. She describes this kind of vulnerability as a vehicle for connection, hope, grace, humor, and healing. How can telling the truth strengthen our connection to each other? When have you experienced truth-telling as life-giving? What keeps us from speaking the truth about ourselves and our life in the world?
6. Both Kate and Nadia have found humor to be a hopeful reflex in dark times. What do you think about this? What are some examples of this in your own life? What are your secret survival strategies?
7. Nadia and Kate suggest our capacity to be unafraid of suffering relates to our capacity to hold joy. Do you agree? In your opinion, what habits, practices or experiences cultivate joy? When have you experienced deep joy in your life?
8. Kate and Nadia both wonder how we hold onto the lessons that life and pain teach us. Nadia hopes that rather we would grow in wisdom. Where would you say wisdom comes from? How have you cultivated it in your own life? Who is someone in your life you would describe as wise? What makes them so?
9. Nadia reflects on the transformative power of authentic, shared community. She says that in this kind of community we all take turns being disappointing and offering grace. What do you think of this? What transformative communities are you a part of? Who offered you grace in a moment of disappointment?
Bonus: After listening to this podcast episode, what part of Nadia and Kate’s conversation struck you most? Why did this part stand out to you? What insight will you carry with you?
Discussion Questions written by Rev. Sarah Johnson (email@example.com).
For more discussion questions and helpful resources, visit KateBowler.com.
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