Taylor continues her spiritual journey begun in Leaving Church by recounting how she discovered the sacred in unexpected places while teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates in rural Georgia. In Holy Envy, she contemplates the myriad ways other people and traditions encounter the Transcendent, both by digging deeper into those traditions herself and by seeing them through her students’ eyes as she sets off with them on field trips to monasteries, temples, and mosques. Troubled and inspired by what she learns, Taylor returns to her own tradition for guidance, finding new meaning in old teachings that have too often been used to exclude religious strangers instead of embracing the divine challenges they present. Re-imagining some central stories from the religion she knows best, she takes heart in how often God chooses outsiders to teach insiders how out-of-bounds God really is. Throughout Holy Envy, Taylor weaves together stories from the classroom with reflections on how her own spiritual journey has been complicated and renewed by connecting with people of other traditions—even those whose truths are quite different from hers. The one constant in her odyssey is the sense that God is the one calling her to disown her version of God—a change that ultimately enriches her faith in other human beings and in God.
On the cover of Taylor’s well-wrought guidebook, the light of the moon gives trees slim shadows, poppies bleed on the ground, and an owl gazes, as the book’s title laces itself among the trees. Taylor (An Altar in the World) observes these moonlit elements well: “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light...,” she writes. Ever the teacher (Piedmont College and Columbia Theological Seminary), she passes on her knowledge, whether purposefully studied or accidentally absorbed, of living with loss. Among these lunar lessons are antipathy to “full solar spirituality,” that is, seeing God as light alone, leaving dark to the devil; and sympathy toward the ever-changing moon (imagined as a Sabbath bride, she mirrors the soul better than does the steady sun). Taylor considers “endarkenment,” light bulbs, blotted stars, and Our Lady of the Underground beneath Chartres Cathedral. Taylor’s intimate voice makes good points and asks good questions, especially in the last chapter’s dialogue. She writes exemplars of exposition (narration, description, argumentation), and pens poetry in her similes and metaphors."-Publisher's Weekly starred review
"Author of an acclaimed memoir (Leaving Church) and a gifted preacher, Taylor is one of those rare people who truly can see the holy in everything. Since everyone should know such a person, those who don't can—no, must—read this book, with its friendly reminders of everyday sacred. Taylor's 12 chapters mine the potentially sacred meaning of simple daily activities and conditions, like walking, paying attention, saying no to work one Sabbath day each week. Hanging laundry is setting up a prayer flag, for God's sake. Since Taylor, an Episcopal priest, no longer pastors a church, she can "do church" everywhere: in line at the grocery store interacting with the cashier, walking a moonlit path with her husband. Her candor is another of the book's virtues: she is a failure at prayer, and cannot explain why or how it is, or isn't, answered ("I do not know any way to talk about answered prayer without sounding like a huckster or a honeymooner"). Savor this book." -Publisher's Weekly starred review
"Eat this book. And you will be satisfied. Here is a story of a life told with the clarity, beauty and honesty of a mountain stream. Barbara Brown Taylor describes doubt, faith, and vocation, their limits, and how the church both blesses and muddies the waters. Those who attend church, those who do not, and everyone in between will find here a feast, and the satisfaction of an eloquent voice speaking the truth." Nora Gallagher, author of Practicing Resurrection
Home by Another Way is the story of three Magi from the East, who followed a star to Bethlehem searching for a king and found a baby instead. This is Barbara’s first book for children, with illustrations by Melanie Cataldo, coming from Presbyterian Publishing Corporation in July 2018 under their new children’s book imprint, Flyaway Books.
Home By Another Way |View on Amazon
"Sermons have been thought of as an art form for a very long time, but rarely have they been pure storytelling. Stories have embellished sermons for a variety of reasons and in this way have served to edify, inform, and inspire. Professor/priest Barbara Brown Taylor has elevated the pure story form and given it a new place in the pulpit. And she does it with the skills required of storytellers. ...One would hope that this book will start a revolution in homiletics." Christianity and the Arts
When God Is Silent | View on Amazon
"This book should not be left to preachers alone; it is a handbook for those who hear the whisper of God and want to listen. It is a book about the fragility of our words and the depth of God's silence – and it is ultimately a book about the music that results from the crashing of our words against that silence of God to carry on its very failure some of the song of God's own music." Bruce Jenneker, Cowley