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Learning to Walk in the Dark Hardcover – April 8, 2014


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Learning to Walk in the Dark + An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith + Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Best-selling author and former Episcopal priest Taylor returns with another thoughtful book. This time Taylor confronts head-on faith and, most significantly, the dark night of the soul. But really this is a meditation on darkness itself—more a journal, she emphasizes, than a manual. What does Taylor mean by darkness? Darkness, she writes, is “shorthand for anything that scares me.” That could include something as profound as the absence of God to the fear of dementia to the loss of family and friends, as well as that “nagging” question of “what it will feel like to die.” She recounts how she became impatient with church teachings that accentuated the light while denying the existence of darkness, and comments on the difference between faith and belief, certainty and trust. An elegant writer with the common touch, Taylor is always a wonderful guide to the spiritual world, and this book is no exception. Here she encourages us to turn out the lights and embrace the spiritual darkness, for it is in the dark, she maintains, that one can truly see. --June Sawyers

Review

“Few souls are as synched to the world’s mysteries as Barbara Brown Taylor’s.... Taylor writes spiritual nonfiction that rivals the poetic power of C.S. Lewis and Frederick Buechner.” (TIME)

“Taylor challenges our negative associations with darkness and our attraction to light in this thought-provoking new book. She draws on her own experiences—from exploring caves and experimenting with blindness, to her questioning of her own religious training and faith—to explore what might be gained by embracing darkness.” (Spirituality & Health)

“An elegant writer with the common touch, Taylor is always a wonderful guide to the spiritual world, and this book is no exception. Here she encourages us to turn out the lights and embrace the spiritual darkness, for it is in the dark, she maintains, that one can truly see.” (Booklist)

“Taylor writes with consistent charm and an unobtrusive faith in God; her work is certain to appeal to… fans of Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott.” (Library Journal)

“Compellingly makes the case for why darkness is as necessary to our well-being as light. . . . A charming, witty and wise guide into the heart of darkness. . . . There is plenty here to ponder.” (Shelf Awareness)

“Reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s writing stuns me, challenges me, and heals me, both with the beauty of her prose and the depth of her wisdom. A gift to every person who’s felt the darkness but not had the words to articulate it… A truly beautiful book.” (Shauna Niequist, author of Bread & Wine)

“Eyes wide open, Barbara Brown Taylor has written a precise and evocative field guide to the dark. Exploring the complex and generative terrain of twilight and absence on her own terms, she generously includes us on her journeys, and encourages us to make our own.” (Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Lovingkindness)

“Beautiful. Profound. Nourishing. I have needed to read this book for a long time.” (Lauren Winner, author of Still and Girl Meets God)

“Offers a different way of looking at darkness, not as something to be feared, but as something to be embraced.” (Interfaith Voices, NPR)

“Barbara Brown Taylor shows readers that dark times can be great times of learning. The former Episcopalian priest shares her experiences of walking through the dark in her own life. … She takes the reader on a journey to explore and understand the ‘dark’ better.” (CBA Retailers magazine)

“Taylor is one of those rare people who truly can see the holy in everything.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Taylor offers no consolation for those who demand the banishment of darkness. But to those willing to enter the darkness and wait in silence, she gives hope.” (The Covenant Companion)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1St Edition edition (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062024353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062024350
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Brown Taylor's last book, An Altar in the World, was a New York Times bestseller that received the Silver Nautilus Award in 2012. Her first memoir, Leaving Church, received an Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association and won the Theologos Award for best general interest book of 2006. Taylor spent fifteen years in parish ministry before becoming the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College, where she has taught world religions since 1998. She lives on a working farm in rural north Georgia with her husband Ed.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 162 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bishop John Shelby Spong and the Reverend Barbara Brown Taylor, my two favorite members of the clergy, to me are the yin and yang of all things spiritual. Bishop Spong, with all the fervor of an Old Testament prophet, blasts the Christian fundamentalists with all their craziness in a heartbeat;-- I love him for that--- Barbara Brown Taylor, on the other hand, always leaves me feeling as if she may have almost as many questions about what it is all about as I do. And for that I love her just as much if not more. Now she has written yet another thoughtful and thought-provoking book LEARNING TO WALK IN THE DARK. Her premise is simple: contrary to what we have been taught, darkness is as good and just as important as light and we should explore that darkness on every level. She says her book is not a "how-to" book, that it is essentially her journal and "may be a book about living with loss."

Taylor lets us share her experiences with darkness: a summer night job as a cocktail waitress at Dante's Down the Hatch in Underground Atlanta before and between her school years as a seminary student, a visit to a cave in West Virginia, a trip to Atlanta where she participated in a "Dialogue in the Dark," when she experienced what it was like to be blind, a night spent with only her dog Dancer in a twelve by twelve-foot cabin in the woods with no power where she was not hampered by artificial light, a visit to higher ground to view the last full moonrise of the year. Then there is a chapter entitled "The Dark Night of the Soul," which might just be the best chapter of all. (This "cloudy evening of the soul" that Barbara wrestles with is a little like what the great poet Emily Dickinson, herself no stranger to darkness, might call her "hour of lead.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By O. Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
*****
This is a beautiful exploration of darkness in all of its aspects--something I have seldom read about. Actual physical darkness--as in the night. The dark side of our emotions. Darkness in the Bible and how it is not always presented negatively. It is a fresh look at a somewhat scary topic. The author shares her personal experiences with darkness of all sorts from her past--from working at night as a student, to laying in her yard and being in darkness while looking at the night sky, to having times of depression--and explores how they have helped her to understand the positive and helpful role of darkness.

For me, this book helped me to see darkness differently, not to just immediately feel as though I need to eradicate it by turning on a light. Not to just feel as though I need to run from my difficult emotions.

As I read, I found myself being anxious at times, relaxed at others, very curious all the time, but mostly just glad I got to read another book by this author. I have read her two previous books, enjoyed them, and given them five stars as well; I do think this is my favorite of all of them. I think that this book helped me to "befriend" darkness of all sorts, a great contribution to my life.

This is not a book filled with answers; on the contrary, it raises many questions and stimulates the reader to explore darkness in their own lives. I would say that the reader needs to be open to questioning themselves and to not be looking for black and white answers from the author--although this is a book from a Christian perspective it is not really a Christian book per se and I think that people of any faith orientation except for fundamentalist will enjoy it.

Highly recommended.
*****
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rev65 on April 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Barbara Brown Taylor is a wonderful writer who every time she puts her ideas on paper inspires me on my spiritual journey. I can so easily relate to her own stories and experiences and have found in them many themes that I've developed into sermons. With this book, "Learning to Walk in the Dark" I have found the same to be true. The God who created the day and the night, (light and dark) proclaims in Genesis, "... and it was good". Barbara reestablishes and awakens that functional belief in me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Todd on May 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Barbara Brown Taylor graciously gives us just enough light to overcome our fear of the dark. She encourages us to extend our deprived palate backing away from the over salted world of full solar religion to learn to appreciate the subtle, deeper taste of the moon, the stars, total darkness and the light that exist there in the unknowable mystery of God. Without seeking to be our guide but to instead merely share her own careful explorations in the dark, she nevertheless leads the reader through many of the paths others have laid out that have been almost to obscure or too far away from the light to easily embrace. She gently bridges those of us who have been blinded by the light into this side of faith that is avoided by men but insisted upon by God.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By G. Bukalders on April 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is like a bread for the traveller who stands at the threshold of the Unknown. With each new chapter Moon is changing her phase and we look at the light and shadows she casts until we enter full darkness. Then step by step we see the day dawning again. But we will never see it the same as before. Somewhere out there is Moon. “Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” (Psa. 19:2) Knowledge comes only by night, when we reflect on what's been said and experienced during the day. Come along and explore!
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