- File Size: 2254 KB
- Print Length: 248 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (March 12, 2019)
- Publication Date: March 12, 2019
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B071DSP2D5
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,497 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Barbara Brown Taylor is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller An Altar in the World and Leaving Church, which received an Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. Taylor is the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College, where she has taught since 1998. She lives on a working farm in rural northeast Georgia with her husband, Ed.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
“This indispensable book guides us through America’s rapidly diversifying religious landscape, highlighting resonances between different religions, narrating moments of spiritual inspiration, and always emphasizing moments of human connection.” (Eboo Patel, author of Out of Many Faiths)
“Engrossing, delightful...In short, it is a timely and important book.” (Psychological Perspectives)
“I’ve long wanted a book like this to be written. And Barbara Brown Taylor is the perfect guide to finding God in other faiths. Her new book reminds us that God is bigger than any one religion. Prepare to come to know God in a new way.” (James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage)
“There are few people writing today who I esteem more highly than Barbara Brown Taylor. In an age in which religion sometimes seems weaponized, furthering the distance between us, I can’t think of a more important offering than this beautiful book.” (Shauna Niequist, New York Times best-selling author of Present Over Perfect )
“In showing up for the complex beauty of all the world’s great wisdom traditions, Barbara finds her way home to her own faith. Among the finest memoirs I have ever read of the life of a teacher.” (Mirabai Starr, author of God of Love)
“Taylor nudges her students away from spiritual appropriation and comparison , moving them instead toward challenging discernment of their faith and the faith of others. Taylor, like the best faith leaders, is a great storyteller. . . . Highly recommended.” (Booklist (starred review))
“In Holy Envy, once again, Barbara Brown Taylor does not disappoint with this capacious engagement of our religious and spiritual neighbors. The book is like a breath of fresh air that scatters the dust off the surface of my faith, and I am rejuvenated and hopeful.” (Mihee Kim-Kort, author of Outside the Lines)
“In simple and sharp prose, Taylor, a former Episcopal priest who teaches religion at Piedmont College in Athens, Ga., explores how teaching an introductory religion course has influenced her own views on faith and Christianity...[a] fluid book.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Taylor acknowledges that none of us has a corner on the transcendent, that we each have something to give and receive while remaining true to our faith. She reminds us that religion is more than beliefs, that it involves our deepest selves and is the fabric of our shared lives.” (Library Journal) --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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Having not read Taylor before, I was afraid I might be devoting hours to fluffy drivel lionizing relativity and minimizing genuine belief and devotion to the traditions discussed. I'm all for understanding and appreciating wisdom across faiths. I just hate it when the writer acts as if they have a higher vantage from which they can see that we're all really the same, if we'd just open ourselves up to their understanding.
Taylor is not that kind of thinker and writer. She's really a genuine seeker who has questions about her own faith and sometimes finds answers outside of it. She writes about this with clarity, empathy, self-deprecation, and even joy.
Taylor also writes with passion about her own Christian perspective. If you are a person of Christian faith, you may find yourself disagreeing. There was a time or two when her reading of the gospel was different from mine, but I could follow her thoughts and engage with her ideas, and learn from them. For example, in talking about Jesus returning to Galilee and reading from Isaiah, she suggests that Jesus reacted emotionally after making a possibly false assumption that his listeners were judging him harshly. It's an interpretation I don't agree with, but I see the way she reached it and will take it into consideration in my future studies.
Ok, that was kind of a tangent and shows my own geeky way of interacting with the book. It's my way of saying I think Taylor is worth reading.
The's books also fun, full of stories, and is comforting for anyone who feels like faith is something of a moving target.
“Hello, I’m Barbara Brown Taylor. I say things you’re not supposed to say.”
Then follows a quote from TIME magazine that compares her spiritual nonfiction (in its poetic power) to that of C. S. Lewis and Frederick Buechner. Then follow pictures of the covers of her four latest books and then a tab for more books. Then a short biosketch that lists some of her most recent kudos (same as the one here on Amazon).
Was it unholy envy that I experienced? Maybe, maybe not. I certainly felt sad when I saw all this, for I am somewhat of a fan and have read almost all her books. I recognized quickly (and I hope correctly) that her web site is probably the work of a publicist who has convinced her that this is the way to sell a lot of books and get lots of speaking engagements – to tell the world how acclaimed and accomplished you are, how influential you have been through your writing and lectures.
Forgive me if I am wrong, but this is not who Barbara Brown Taylor really is, deep down, unless what she has written over the past decades in hundreds of pages is a cover for a quite different personality than shines through in them, including the most recent book (Holy Envy). I ordered Holy Envy from Amazon the day it was released.
The BBT I meet in this book is a gentle child of God, unsure of how to assimilate and integrate what she stumbles on when she embarks on teaching Religion 101 at Piedmont College, despite all the credentials and honorific titles she brings. She communicates beautifully the doubts and hesitation that you encounter when you begin teaching, and plunge into topics that involve major religions of the world that you have never really explored in depth. If you are honest and open minded, you find that you have begun a wrestling match with God, even though you may not have thought of it that way. Of course you are no match for G-d (neither was Jacob), and years of wrestling leave you exhausted at times, exhilarated at others. Finally, your brain is scrambled and body is tired and you realize that your years of active wrestling are limited. It is time to fall back onto somewhat familiar territory, even though the landscape may have changed quite a bit in all the time that you spent wrestling and learning a few basic facts and ideas. For you attempted to explore topics that have taken hundreds of years and millions of lives and “books” to evolve into their present state.
The book is full of lovely memories and experiences as well as unsettling ones, giving a glimpse into the complexities and difficulties of tackling living, active faiths and religions. You emerge with anecdotes but you realize how little you truly know and understand, even when you are hailed as one of the most influential thinkers in the world!
The chapter on Holy Envy towards the beginning of the book introduces Krister Stendahl to the reader along with his three rules of religious understanding. This alone made my purchase of the book worthwhile. This book is not an introduction to the major religions of the world. Huston Smith’s book (World Religions) is excellent, and BBT recommends it here. When I read that book many decades ago in an earlier incarnation, it made me want to become a follower of each of the faiths it described in its chapters. You could tell right away that Smith had followed Krister Stendahl’s rules; even better, he was a person who had actually immersed himself in the faith for a prolonged period of time before attempting to write about it.
There are also nuggets such as the ones in the chapters (towards the end) about being Born Again and Divine Diversity where BBT tackles passages from scripture and expresses ideas that make you think all over again about stories that you were puzzled by at some time. Here one gets a glimpse of the BBT that one saw in her earlier books of sermons; those were scattered with lynx-eyed observations and unexpected perspectives. I usually ended reading those with tears in my eyes.
Holy Envy does mention instances where people underwent transformations they may not have foreseen as a result of encountering different faiths. My personal experience was a transformation from a staunch atheist to a follower of Jesus in midlife. It was Jesus who opened my eyes and heart to other faiths and made me understand that he himself appears often as a stranger to people who call themselves Christians.
May people of different faiths learn to live together in peace and harmony. In the words of an Irish sage (John O’Donohue)
May the space between us be blessed with peace and joy
May the nourishment of the earth be yours.
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours.