Item description for Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor...
Overview Like Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, Taylor emphasizes the holy dimensions of ordinary life and describes the essentials of faith with insight and humor, touching on the vocations, imagination, worship, sacraments, ministry and the Bible as they relate to the life of faith.
Publishers Description In her bestselling preaching autobiography Barbara Brown Taylor writes of how she came to be a preacher of the gospel as a priest in the Episcopal Church. In this warm and poignant collection, Barbara Brown Taylor s humor and wisdom delve into the meaning of Christian symbols and history both her own, growing up in the Mid-West and Georgia, and the Church s, from its earliest beginnings in the Near East. Seamlessly, Taylor weaves together reflections on her vocation with the long-standing struggles of the Church to hear, respond, and remain faithful to its mission of holy love. She moves effortlessly from reflection to homily, concluding the volume with thirteen sermons illustrative of the answered call. This rich meeting of memoir, theology, and sermon stands at the center of Taylor s work, bringing into one book the origins and the vision of her remarkable preaching life. But her voice is not sentimental. Instead, Taylor explores Christian meanings and histories in order to hear and speak, in the present, for God. God has given us good news in human form and has given us the grace to proclaim it, she writes, but part of our terrible freedom is the freedom to lose our voices, to forget where we were going and why. While that knowledge does not yet strike me as prophetic, it does keep me from taking both my ministry and the ministry of the whole church for granted. This book on the calling to preach is itself a call to reawaken to the activating presence of God. Because I am a preacher, it is through a preacher s eyes that I see. . ., but because I am a baptized Christian too, it is from that perspective I write. Either way, my job remains the same: to proclaim the good news of God in Christ and to celebrate the sacraments of God s presence in the world. Those two jobs are described as clearly in the baptismal vows as they are in the ordination vows, which give all Christians a common vocation. from Chapter One"
Citations And Professional Reviews Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 03/01/1993
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Studio: Cowley Publications
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.54" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.56" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2001
Publisher Cowley Publications
ISBN 156101074X ISBN13 9781561010745
Availability 0 units.
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 Preaching Life?
Another Good One Jul 21, 2007
Consistent with her previous collections of sermons, this one does not miss. There are good illustrations and interesting techniques for the seasoned preachers and help for new preachers who are trying to preaching "outside the box".
A Linguistic Master Mar 2, 2007
Key themes of the book: The key theme of the book is incorporating some of the essential aspects of the Christian life into the body, soul and spirit of the preacher. The book asks the preacher to reorient his or her life in such a way that he or she may see God in the seemingly insignificant. It challenges the preacher to see that sermon that is embedded in our daily lives, to abstract the message from the mundane and to liberate God from tradition and ritual.
Taylor's answer to "what is preaching?" Taylor's description of preaching would be, complete immersion in the life of God for the purpose of sharing that life with the body of believers that we call, the church. The preaching moment does not belong to the preacher, but to God. The preacher must be aware of the way in which the sermon converses with the congregation. The preacher must always be concerned with the fact that his/her words are spoken on "God's behalf". The preacher serves as the conduit between God and God's people. He or she serves to seek intimacy with and revelation from God, and to share that experience with the church. While Taylor does talk about the act of studying the Bible, of choosing the right words, of understanding the sacraments... ... She comes back to the fact that preaching is ultimately God's event. The sermon is God's creation, and the preacher's role is simply to deliver it as best he or she can.
3 aspects of the book that I found most helpful: Three aspects of the book that jumped out at me were vocation, imagination and the Bible. There were other ideas that were powerfully presented, but these three were the most pronounced. One of the first topics that Taylor addressed in the book was the idea of vocation and call. The connection between the things we do everyday and our participation in the life of God makes life worth living. I often describe call as that thing that "if I could not do, I would not want to live". Taylor simplifies this idea. People are often in search of call, but Taylor proposes that they are already doing the work of God in their daily lives. The key is in understanding that we are God's people, doing God's work in the world (pg. 29). Barbara Brown Taylor's discussion of Imagination was fascinating to me. She manages to take a topic that I personally take for granted and give it new life. I am particularly excited by her ability to take the commonplace and reimage it through eyes that have been touched by the spirit of God. I heard a great preacher once say, "There is something new in every hue that Christ-less eyes have never seen." When Taylor describes the common thought of Luke the physician juxtaposed with the thought of "gospel stories with the power to heal", I can see new dimensions in preaching. Taylor's chapter on the Bible presents powerful comparisons between what the Bible says and what culture says. I was moved by her comparison between a "romance" and a "marriage". The intimation is that it takes more to have a marriage. The nitty gritty; the day in and day out; not just the "oow's" and "ah's", but the "oops'" and the "oh no's". Seminary has taught me that the Bible is not all red roses and chocolates, its disagreements and failures as well. The kicker is that God's grace is always ready swoop in on eagle's wings and open up the possibilities for a brighter tomorrow.
How does my preaching tradition disagree with some of Taylor's points: I do not think that my preaching style disagrees with Taylor's points at all. Her ideas fit in well with the preaching that I may hear on a Sunday in my tradition. I do feel that the depth of her ideas would add breadth to my tradition. Her ideas resonate with the better preaching that I have heard in my tradition, and she encourages me to look for this same depth, to explore new ideas and to go the extra mile in sermon preparation in order to truly reach the people of God. I cannot say that I disagreed with any of Taylor's ideas. I find that her imaginative writing style takes old stale thoughts and ideas and gives them new life. Reading her words makes me focus on my own words. I have found in the last few weeks that time spent looking for the right words before the preaching of the sermon has helped me to have the right words in mind when the actual preaching takes place. Thus, following Taylor's lead in searching for the right words helps me to achieve a depth of intimacy with God that carries over into the sermonic encounter.
What questions have been raised for me in my own homileticcal thinking: Taylor's book has helped me to ask myself more questions about how the text is heard by people today. She encourages me to challenge myself in my thinking about preaching. As I prepare sermons, I am encouraged to think about the words I use. The best words in the best order may help to clarify the preached message. Taylor also asks me to get back in touch with my imagination. Have I been searching my imagination? Have I challenged myself to go to the borders of my mind, to find images that provoke the people of God to experience the depths of God with me?
Overall impressions with the book: My initial impression of Barbara Brown Taylor is that she is a preacher. Her words flow eloquently and effortlessly from the pages of her book to the ears and eyes of the reader. She paints vivid images of the world that was, the world that is and the world that could yet be. I am amazed by her ability to both paint pictures and actually paint stories. She has an uncanny ability to draw the reader into the world as she sees it. This is quite obviously a tool and skill that would be useful for any preacher, as what we are tasked to do is take up a world view that places Christ at its center and draw those on the outside (non believers) into that world. If I could paint a glorious picture of a world where the dominion of Christ is exalted over all else, I am truly preaching the gospel message!
The first lady Preacher whose imagination seizes mine! Oct 4, 2005
There is never any doubt for ten years since I first heard this lady Teacher-Preacher, this one-of-a-kind, Barbara Brown Taylor has sustained my interest! After hearing her first in Lectionary Homiletics Conference in-between Joanna Adams and Fred Craddock, I recall taking a risk to ask her to autograph one of her books. She proved to be a gracious listener. After exchanging E-mails about our mutual friend John Claypool, she expressed her thanks.
Dr Craddock gives her one of his rare accolades that she has the capacity to "sit on her own shoulder and report on what she sees and hears herself doing and saying." Maybe this is why she has gained her ability to become such a creative story-teller!
To sustain my interest she uses 7 chapters to teach us about her intimate "Life of Faith" from, "a call, her imagination, belief in scripture and seeing herself in the pulpit." My favorite of the second half of 13 Sermons is "Do Love!" She starts with her disclaimer: "All things considered, I am a pretty good thinker if people will be patient with me..." Every time I have heard her preach or lecture, that is definitely one big unnecessary disclaimer! For this early gem of teaching plus Preaching Life, I only comment, it's the unvarnished sincere Holy Truth! retired Chaplain Fred W Hood
The Preaching life has gifts for clergy and laypeople May 21, 2005
Barbara Brown Taylor offers a book here that is a wonderful and moving read. The book takes the form of two parts, each of which offers insight and spiritual direction to aspiring clergy, clergy, and laypeople alike. The first half of the book is a journey through the growth of the author's faith. She speaks of her quest for God that developed from childhood that led to a variety of churches and experiences through adolescence and young adulthood. This journey demonstrates the struggle we all have to come to know God, and the imperfect path which we all travel in order to arrive at a relationship with God. In the process, though, she illustrates tools and elements of the journey which are important to all the faithful. This "everyperson" quality of the book shows the average reader that a preacher is as human as those who sit in the pews on a Sunday morning. For the professional or those interested in preaching, it gives insight to the necessities involved in preparing a sermon on Sunday mornings, and the importance of our own faith stories in preparing us to live as preachers. The second half of the book is a collection of sermons from the author. These also have purpose that can offer spiritual direction to readers no matter if they are in the pews or in the pulpit. For the people in the pews, they are an excellent source of understanding the scriptures that they are written on. The author often acknowledges the difficulty in relating to the words of the Bible in these sermons, but the plain-spoken way in which they are offered give them the ability to bring those words alive for the modern audience. For the ones in the pulpit, it demonstrates a style of preaching that can be most effective in presenting the word of God to a wide variety of people at very different stops on the type of journey she details in the first half of the book. I would encourage anyone who is on their own spiritual journey to read this book, and especially those who are preparing to or filling a pulpit in a church. The vision of faith from both sides of the preaching equation is of great benefit to all.
Barbara Brown Taylor is a Great Contemporary Teacher May 11, 2005
The author describes how difficult and outmoded God was during the early 1970s, when she was in college. Everything was tried as a substitute, at the same time some others were embracing Christianity with a vigor not found since far earlier times. The contrast is sharp between the un-churched and individuals who are "Born Again." Rev. Taylor went on to say how others during or since have been so thoroughly discouraged by their belief in God and allegiance to Church that they may never return. Others had their faiths restored, rebuilt by new experiences that showed what God was rather than wasn't.
An important element introduced early on in the book pertains to Rev. Taylor's quoting of Martin Luther's perspective relative to the commonality of vocation as a result of our Christian baptism. What each of does in our lives is our "office" or function, so that there is no higher or lower position of laity to clergy, it is simply a matter of what one does for a living in the context of living out their Christian faith. Also, it was an important distinction to make in explaining how we can discern what God's will for us is personally: "Whatever makes us happy, provided that we continue to belong to God."
She describes that the preaching experience is a three-fold arrangement within a congregation. The congregation grants authority to the minister to address their spiritual needs. The minister listens to God's leanings for the message, and God conveys what message is desirable to be conveyed. The author uses the analogy of Cyrano de Bergerac to illustrate the role of representing the sentiments of one party (the congregation) to God in the balcony, then the minister takes God's message back to the party that he represents. It is a perfect arrangement.
Three of the eleven Sermon examples: In the sermon "One Step at a Time," her conversion experience in college was very realistic and believable. The description of her experience, "giving herself to Christ," despite her half hearted efforts, was very impressive. The manner in which she described her acceptance of Jesus into her life was simply beautiful. The beauty of her sermons is the straight forward manner in which she expresses truth as she understands it.
Rev. Taylor's sermon on the "Good Samaritan" was told very believably and with an understanding reasoning, not moralizing. When the lawyer in the story asks Jesus "who is my neighbor," Jesus asks the lawyer which one of the three passers-by showed the Samaritan neighborliness? The lawyer answered that the person who showed mercy to the Samaritan was most like a neighbor. Jesus said, then do as the neighbor did. Simply perform mercy or justice to whomever you encounter and this will bring you eternal life. What a simple and direct message she is able to make by reiterating what Jesus taught at the time, and does so once again through her uniquely simple message.
She tells a great story with insight and understanding of the "Rich, Young Man" who asks Jesus how he can gain the Kingdom of Heaven. Rev. Taylor explains that the man had assumed that Jesus would tell what he could do that would make a difference to other people, that was achievable, so that Heaven too could be his due to his great wealth. Jesus causes the man to actually see what gaining Heaven requires, giving up everything that gives him security and the sense of power to affect people's lives. This is what the man could not do when Jesus posed the question. I was disappointed at the conclusion of the sermon. Rev. Taylor said that for us to have done any better than the "rich, young man" is impossible. However, it is not impossible for God to do what is impossible for us. I thought for sure that she would give us something more than a riddle at the end. This presumably meant that God could untie the binds that keep us in bondage - true - but we need to be aware of what binds us so that it can be released by us consciously. It appears difficult to accept that God can take from us what we need to give up so that we can have eternal life. This removes our role in giving it; removes our role in making the transition from one state to a more enlightened one.
I find Barbara Brown Taylor's writing and sermon style to be very refreshing. She offers plenty of study of the scriptural subjects that she tackles. It is with new lenses looking at old scriptural questions that she teaches so refreshingly. No wonder she is so popular a teacher, today.