At the House for All Sinners and Saints in the US city of Denver, a foul-mouthed tattoo-loving Lutheran pastor who was once a Pagan, an alcoholic and
a stand-up comedian, is reinventing church.
Nadia Bolz Weber walks through the glass doors and immediately commands attention. She is 6'1" (185cm), has short, salt-and-pepper hair slicked back
from her face, wears dark pink lipstick, and her bare arms are well-toned from many hours spent lifting weights in the gym. There is no dog collar
But I get a clear view of her trademark tattoos. Elaborate, colourful images extend all the way up both arms. Closer inspection reveals characters and
scenes from the Bible.
"I've got images from the entire liturgical year," she says, pointing to her left arm. "There's the Angel Gabriel, Elizabeth and Zacharias for
Advent, the creche scene for Christmas, Jesus in the desert for Lent, Good Friday and the crucifixion, the angel and the women at the empty tomb for
Easter and Mary and the Apostles with flames on their heads for Pentecost."
That is just one side. She turns to show me her right arm where she has a large tattoo of Mary Magdalene, a follower of Jesus, who is often described
as a prostitute. Bolz Weber disagrees, suggesting texts in the Bible are being misinterpreted, and that as the first person to meet Jesus after the
resurrection, "She is the apostle to the apostles. She was the first preacher in a sense." She describes Mary as her patroness. "She's fierce,"
she adds, meaning "cool"...