PSR Alum Publishes First Book

May 31, 2013
Daniel Borysewicz

Reverend Barbara Nixon (MDiv ’99, MA ‘00) recently self-published her first book Things I Wish Jesus Said (available on Amazon), which covers some of the concepts that people wrestle with again and again. Some of the things she wishes Jesus said include: “Don't believe everything you read;” “Violence will never bring peace;” “God does not have a plan for your life;” “I didn't come to save you;” “Don't expect a miracle;” and others that are intended to question how Christians articulate their beliefs, while inspiring the reader to formulate and define their own beliefs in their own words. As Nixon says in Chapter One, ‘‘Things I Wish Jesus Said’ is not so much a book about studying the Bible proper.  It is more of an encouragement to lift the value of exploring tradition/ history, reason and experience in our lives as followers of Jesus--- to find our way to beliefs we can truly call our own…”

Rev. Nixon’s inspiration for this book began through a preaching series on the theological places where many people get stuck. Her book continues to receive outstanding reviews and is proving to be an excellent discussion tool for churches that are open-minded, but have not had these kinds of conversations before. It is also being used as a means to deepen theological conversations for lay people within the church. While Rev. Nixon was putting together the first draft of this book from her sermons, she utilized Facebook to reach out to churches with discussion groups to offer them chapters to read and discuss. Fifteen groups were willing to review the material and provided Rev. Nixon with great feedback.

Rev. Nixon has been the Senior Pastor at Hillview United Methodist Church in Boise City, Idaho for the past four years, the only Reconciling UMC Church in Idaho, and has become part of the UMC Reconciling Ministries Network since Rev. Nixon came to this church. The church is filled with “progressive beacons of light in a conservative part of the country,” Rev. Nixon said. In addition to being a pastor, Rev. Nixon is a writer for the Religious section of the Idaho Statesman, and is the chair of the steering committee for the interfaith group “Healing Our Future” (Facebook).

Rev. Nixon became involved with interfaith dialog while she was serving a church in Oregon. During part of her time there, Rev. Nixon hosted “Godtalk,” a Saturday morning interfaith radio program on Air America for 2 years where she interviewed guests and people called in from around the country. During the show, she interviewed people like Sam Harris, Mel White, Gary Wills, and the President of the Muslim Church of America. Rev. Nixon stated that “PSR prepared [her] well” for her work after seminary.

Rev. Nixon spoke of PSR being a “microcosm for the world” and has fond memories of her time in seminary, and is still in contact with many students and faculty thirteen years after graduating. Her time at PSR was “life changing” in many ways, she said. When her husband was tragically killed in an auto accident, the “PSR community held [her] up and helped [her] get through it.” As with all change, the proposals that PSR has for its future bring with them some slight trepidation for Rev. Nixon but she has “a lot of confidence in [PSR’s] leadership” as we all take a “leap of faith” together.