A Short Book Review – Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith


My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a must read book for anyone involved in church ministry, whether lay or clergy. Taylor discusses the joys and sorrows of ministry as a parish priest in the Episcopal Church, and her astute observations of congregational life are a joy to read. A few quotes from the book readily illustrate this.

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do,” she once said, ”because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”

“I know people who come to this church,” he said, “and I finally had to come see for myself how they got through a Sunday morning without assaulting each other.”

“Most of us do not live especially holy lives, after all. We spend most of our time sitting in traffic, paying bills, and being irritated with one another. Yet every week we are invited to stop all of that for one hour at least. We are invited to participate in a great drama that has been going on without us for thousands of years, and one that will go on as long as there is a single player left standing.”

“I looked around at all of those shining people with makeup running down their cheeks, with hair plastered to their heads, and I was so happy to be one of them.  If being ordained meant being set apart from them, then I did not want to be ordained anymore. I simply wanted to be human. . . .I wanted to spit food and let snot run down my chin. I wanted to confess being as lost and found as anyone else without caring that my underwear showed through my wet clothes. Bobbing in that healing pool with all those other flawed beings of light, I looked around and saw them as I had never seen them before, while some of them looked at me the same way. Why had it taken me so long to get into the pool?”

I guess part of the appeal of this book to me is that I live with many of the same tensions and questions that Taylor has/had.

Leaving the Church

Many of you may know this already, but I thought I’d share it with the readers of this blog. On Monday afternoon, August 28th, Terri Gross interviewed Barbara Brown Taylor on her program Fresh Air on NPR. Taylor is a former Episcopalian minister, and I have read many of her books. In her new book, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, she describes her decision to leave the parish ministry after almost 20 years as a minister in a local church. I plan to read this as soon as I can afford to get a copy of it.

The interview covers topics ranging from the reasons she left parish ministry to the current issues facing the Episcopal church, in which she is ordained. I found both the questions Gross asked and the answers Taylor gave both illuminating and thought provoking. Taylor is a gifted preacher, and in fact she was named one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world by Baylor University. She now teaches religion at Piedmont College in Georgia and is an editor-at-large and columnist for The Christian Century.

If you would like to hear this interview, Just click here.

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