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Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Kindle Edition
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“I cannot overstate how liberating and transforming I have found Leaving Church to be.” (Frederick Buechner, author of Beyond Words)
“This memoir [...] is full of surprises[...] In her renewal is our own.” (Peter J. Gomes, Harvard University)
“Taylor describes doubt, faith and vocation, their limits, and how the church both blesses and muddies the waters.” (Nora Gallagher, author of Practicing Resurrection)
“A fiercely honest and gracious book about our primary vocation to be human.” (Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, and author of Reimagining Christianity)
“Leaving Church is a canticle of praise to creator and creation.” (Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking and Booking Passage)
“A finely crafted memoir . . . a rich evocation of her lifelong love affair with God.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Told with insight, humor and compassion.” (The Columbus Post Dispatch)
“A beautifully crafted memoir . . . . There is a refreshing honesty . . . a slice of courage in a world that too often refuses to admit its vulnerability. . . . Leaving Church does not bash the church. It is a love story about letting go and learning to live with the mystery of what may happen next.” (San Diego Tribune)
“...Taylor at her best, writing about congregational moments with such artistic grace and wit that we see them afresh” (Christian Century)
“Even without the collar, Barbara Brown Taylor is one of our most important spiritual writers today.” (ExploreFaith)
“I love this book . . . . Her beautiful, absorbing memoir will bless countless readers...” (Lauren Winner, The Dallas Morning News)
“Such is the power of Brown Taylor’s prose...and her humanity that this story becomes one of hope.” (Columbus Dispatch)
“An Episcopal priest renowned for her eloquent sermons turns her talents to memoir...” (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
“Lovely . . . revealing . . . poignant. . . . I found in Taylor’s narrative a companionable voice...” (Garret Keizer in Books & Culture)
“A wonderfully gifted Christian writer and speaker.” (Kansas City Star)
“This new memoir is among the summer’s best books...” (Detroit Free Press)
“Taylor is a better writer than LaMott and a better theologian than Norris. ...she is the best there is.” (Living Church)
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication date : October 13, 2009
- File size : 4764 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 277 pages
- Publisher : HarperOne (October 13, 2009)
- ASIN : B000PDZFUW
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #120,525 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Episcopalians like to do spiritual autobiographies, and this is a great one. Of course, it doesn't have a beginning, middle, and conclusion. The journey keeps changing as she pursues it.
Author Taylor writes lush, delightful, descriptive prose, evoking the rural environment, sights, sounds, smells, and ever-recurring conflicts. It's hard to put this book down. At the same time, it leaves too much unsaid. What really happened in the small country church that led to her abrupt resignation? She gives hints and allusions. One senses the parish was relieved to see her go. What is clear is that she is still searching, growing and learning. Should you go out and buy this book? It depends. If you're looking for definite answers, certainty, and biblical literalism, you won't like it. If you're comfortable with ambiguity, uncertainty, mystery, and inner conflict, this may be just the book you've been searching for. I certainly enjoyed it and recommend it. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
The title "Leaving Church" is inaccurate, of course, because leaving ordained parish ministry is not the same as leaving church. Taylor is still an Episcopal priest, but even if she had resigned as a priest, she would still not necessarily have left church. The title stems from Taylor's resignation as a church rector, which surprised many people, and some apparently misunderstood her choice as really leaving church and/or losing her faith. In this book, Taylor explains the journey that led to her change in direction, providing an overview of her experience of ordained ministry and her transition out of church employment. Overall, she regards the decision to leave as spiritually liberating.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, Taylor says too little about the actual decision to leave, other than emphasizing that she was tired and depressed. Although Taylor emphasized how hard she worked, so much so that it's almost exhausting to read about it, her decision to resign as rector of a church never seems adequately explained. From the viewpoint of many -- particularly those engaged in ordained ministry -- she has lived a charmed and even enviable life. First, after an apparently easy ordination process, she immediately received a position at a large and wealthy multi-staff church in central Atlanta, working with a popular rector. Then she was called as a rector of a charming church in exactly the area she and her husband wanted to live - the kind of location that people retire to because it's so beautiful. Taylor appears to have been financially comfortable throughout her ministry, and the couple were able to build a dream house on 100 beautiful acres in the mountains (with three streams on their property!) In the meantime, she was developing a widespread reputation as an outstanding preacher while authoring a number of popular books. What's not to like about this life? Sounds ideal, right?
Apparently the author didn't like it, or at least the part about being rector of a parish, because she resigned. Exhaustion and symptoms of depression appear to have played a major role, as well as conflict in a church split over the issue of homosexuality. However, little time is spent discussing the decision to resign and even less on the reaction of the church members. Some of this may have been unavoidable, because of concerns about confidentiality and washing dirty linen in public. Taylor mentions that she had committed to stay 10 years when she accepted the position and left after 5 1/2, but other than that, says little about breaking that agreement. Additionally, she mentions only in passing that her recently hired assistant had to resign when she did (it's the rule). She hints that some in the church were unhappy with her (perhaps because she was spread too thin?) Certainly, one wonders about the wisdom of her initial commitment: 10 years is a long time to commit to. I wish she had felt free to tell more about that part of her story and spent less time describing finding God in the beauty of nature. I get it. Nature is lovely. The mountains are lovely - it's easier to find God there than in a church hall of angry people. Life in the church can be as messy as any barnyard, and that no doubt contributed to her decision, but she barely mentioned it. It was frustrating when she skipped quickly over her farewell party but spent pages on birds.
It seems likely, also, that much of the author's exhaustion came from her own very high standards and successful outside endeavors. Taylor barely mentions her increasingly busy schedule filled with engagements outside her own church, as her reputation as preacher and author grew. She was no doubt traveling frequently while living in a remote area, accessible only by mountain roads. Additionally, Taylor's many publications during this period would by itself be sufficient work for most people! She says virtually nothing about these activities but instead describes the demands of providing pastoral care. It's amazing she managed to do all that she did for as long as she did without completely burning out.
This book would be great for use by a book club, particularly those in a church setting, as it raises some provocative questions. I wonder if the author will find that even after "leaving church," she will continue to find herself over-scheduled, with more demands on her than most people could manage. I hope not, because she's definitely gifted as both an author and preacher.
Top reviews from other countries
Other than that it was a riveting read.