Item description for Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor...
Overview Chronicles a female preacher's personal odyssey of faith and the tensions of her religious life, a conflict that leads her to leave the church in order to maintain her relationship with God.
By now I expected to be a seasoned parish minister, wearing black clergy shirts grown gray from frequent washing. I expected to love the children who hung on my legs after Sunday morning services until they grew up and had children of their own. I even expected to be buried wearing the same red vestments in which I was ordained.
Today those vestments are hanging in the sacristy of an Anglican church in Kenya, my church pension is frozen, and I am as likely to spend Sunday mornings with friendly Quakers, Presbyterians, or Congregationalists as I am with the Episcopalians who remain my closest kin. Some-times I even keep the Sabbath with a cup of steaming Assam tea on my front porch, watching towhees vie for the highest perch in the poplar tree while God watches me. These days I earn my living teaching school, not leading worship, and while I still dream of opening a small restaurant in Clarkesville or volunteering at an eye clinic in Nepal, there is no guarantee that I will not run off with the circus before I am through. This is not the life I planned, or the life I recommend to others. But it is the life that has turned out to be mine, and the central revelation in it for me -- that the call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human -- seems important enough to witness to on paper. This book is my attempt to do that.
After nine years serving on the staff of a big urban church in Atlanta, Barbara Brown Taylor arrives in rural Clarkesville, Georgia (population 1,500), following her dream to become the pastor of her own small congregation. The adjustment from city life to country dweller is something of a shock -- Taylor is one of the only professional women in the community -- but small-town life offers many of its own unique joys. Taylor has five successful years that see significant growth in the church she serves, but ultimately she finds herself experiencing "compassion fatigue" and wonders what exactly God has called her to do. She realizes that in order to keep her faith she may have to leave.
Taylor describes a rich spiritual journey in which God has given her more questions than answers. As she becomes part of the flock instead of the shepherd, she describes her poignant and sincere struggle to regain her footing in the world without her defining collar. Taylor's realization that this may in fact be God's surprising path for her leads her to a refreshing search to find Him in new places. Leaving Church will remind even the most skeptical among us that life is about both disappointment and hope -- and ultimately, renewal.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.01" Width: 5.31" Height: 0.67" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Nov 14, 2014
ISBN 0060872632 ISBN13 9780060872632
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More About Barbara Brown Taylor
Barbara Brown Taylor is an Episcopal priest. She holds the Harry R. Butman Chair in Religion and Philosophy at Piedmont College in northeastern Georgia and serves as adjunct professor of Christian spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur. Recognized as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English language by Baylor University in 1995, Taylor has published numerous collections of her sermons and theological reflections, including Mixed Blessings, The Preaching Life, Speaking of Sin, Bread of Angels, Home By Another Way, and Gospel Medicine. Information about Barbara Brown Taylor's speaking engagements can be found on her website: http: //www.barbarabrowntaylor.com/events.htm
Barbara Brown Taylor currently resides in the state of Georgia.
Reviews - What do customers think about Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith?
Too abstract to be a real memoir, but thought-provoking Apr 24, 2008
I read a lot of memoirs these days. In fact they are probably my favorite literary genre. Maybe I should have been warned by Taylor's subtitle - not simply "a memoir," but "a memoir of faith." Because this is not a memoir in the usual sense. There is precious little of Taylor's childhood, youth or young adulthood - no real concrete stories and examples from her life. Too much of this book remains caught in the abstraction of ideas and beliefs, with not nearly enough examples. The people who show up in the book remain undeveloped vague outlines. And I have a hard time identifying with Brown's spiritual "quest," if that is what it is. I don't think it's because she's a woman either. What few facts that do emerge about her life outside this "quest" do not really serve to make her a sympathetic character. Daughter of a psychotherapist, sister of a lawyer, wife of an engineer - all these tidbits add up to what appears to have been a life of privilege and ease, and continued to be even after her ordination, as she speaks of her Saab and Audi and how they didn't fit into her rural community, and goes on at some length about everything she "wanted" in her custom-built home outside of town (in lieu of a parsonage near her church). What comes through in Barbara Brown Taylor's book is a story of a driven overachiever, who in fact drives herself into a near nervous breakdown, which finally causes her to leave her church and the active priesthood. While I do not doubt the sincerity of her quest for her true vocation and place in God's world, I do wonder about her motives. She became more likeable - more human - in the final section of the book, after she had left the priesthood, when she talks about her crisis of faith and things like her fears of inadequacy and the death of her father. Having said all of this, I still have to say that I'm glad I read the book, which has left me with much to think about in regard to my own role in the Church (Catholic in my case)and my relationship with God and my place in His world. I also think that Taylor is a person I'd like to know, but these 200-plus pages have not given me that opportunity. A memoir of faith? Perhaps. A "memoir"? No. - Tim Bazzett, author of Reed City Boy
A memoir of Experience Apr 4, 2008
This book would have been more accurately described in the subtitle as a "Memoir of Personal Experience".
She dismisses orthodox Christian Theology and doctrine as something that the Apostles and Early Church had to "come up with" to explain this or that.
Ultimately it is a story of how the narrow Christian path and Church "didn't work" for her, and many of her thoughts and experiences confirm the fact that women were never meant to be "priests" in the first place (though this fact enrages those who hold to the political language of "equal rights" versus sound apostolic theology).
I found the book pleasant and very readable, but at the same time it was a sad story of how Christ just "wasn't enough". While most in our culture will find it "affirming" or down right "spiritual", it is a disappointment for the orthodox Christian who may wish to read a story about how Christ and the scriptures contain "all things necessary for salvation".
Barbara's approach in later life is gnostic and universalist. In the words of her Presiding Bishopess, "saying Christ is the only way is to put God in too small of a box". Emotions, feelings, and cravings rule the day in the final analysis of her relationship to Christ, and it seems that "leaving" orthodoxy is freeing to her, though I question she was ever there in the first place. Ultimately, God is the final judge of what she has done and what she now teaches.
Her elevation of Native American theology and her fondness of "other paths" leads the committed Christian looking elsewhere for a story of knowing Christ and Him crucified, and following Him in a culture that values personal choice and heterodoxy over all other things.
In the end it is a volume that will find great company with the writings of Spong, Borg, Ehrman, and others who deny the reality of John 14:6 and the authority of Holy Sripture in the name of being on "an authentic journey".
If I have to "put my eggs in one basket" I am going to have to stick with the Apostles and the Church Fathers and leave "other ways" up to Barbara, fine preacher though she is.
A Precious Memoir Apr 1, 2008
Over the course of my life I have learned certain things about salad; it has good, nourishing things in it, like spinach, almonds, feta cheese, and olive oil. Sometimes you can add strawberries. With a splash of balsamic vinegar, it sings. Other times it is dressed with slightly less healthy things like mayonnaise or sour cream, but generally its ingredients have a clear line of succession back to something alive; apples, raisins, eggs, potatoes.
Then I moved to South Dakota, where I was introduced to "salad". Unlike what I have just described, this concoction is made of things like Cool Whip and crushed up Oreos. It tastes good in the moment, but by the end of it I am always left slightly nauseous and wondering where it came from.
There's a lot of spiritual "salad" out there. Thankfully, this offering is not in that group. From the moment you crack open the cover, it sings. Her story of earthy, fragrant devotion to God is refreshing and very alive. It breathes the living life of Christ and speaks from the still beating but wounded heart of the church. Thankfully, Taylor veers only briefly into the sordid realm of political hot button issues, and for good reason.
With fifteen years in the pastoral crucible under her belt, and an evident love for all of us, Taylor comes across as someone you can trust. Her words in this precious memoir are nourishing, full of flavor and, like the vegetables in her Georgia garden, entirely organic.
Well worth reading Mar 1, 2008
This book just "popped" up as an advertised suggestion for me, and after looking at the details on this site, I decided to order it. I am doing a lot of soul searching about my own faith journey, and am having a struggle with the Institutional Church not truly following the teachings of Jesus, having gotten enmired in politics and building empire. I felt this book was speaking to me, and is one I could hardly put down. It is well written, and certainly one I would, and have recommended to others.
Leaving Church Feb 8, 2008
This book is such a good read and truly reflects much of my personal experience- I treasure the author's way of writing about nature and so many of her feelings.