"This beautiful book is rich with wit and humanness and honesty and loving detail....I cannot overstate how liberating and transforming I have found Leaving Church to be." --Frederick Buechner, author of Beyond Words "This is an astonishing book. . . . Taylor is a better writer than LaMott and a better theologian than Norris. In a word, she is the best there is." --Living Church Barbara Brown Taylor, once hailed as one of America's most effective and beloved preachers, eloquently tells the moving and delightful story of her search to find an authentic way of being Christian--even when it meant giving up her pulpit.
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In "Leaving Church," she recounts how she came to accept the call to her final parish as priest, and how she decided to leave the pulpit to become a full-time college professor. Subtitled, "A Memoir of Faith," it has two main sections, "Finding" and "Losing," with an extended epilogue called "Keeping."
This is an interesting book as it allows a glimpse at the personal side of being a parish priest -- the joys and the headaches. It also serves as a biography of faith in how Brown Taylor explores the transition of her faith from her vocational responsibilities to something she seems to be seeking for again in the second half of the book.
As a pastor, I appreciate the open way in which Brown Taylor invites people to imagine faith seeking, looking for the hand of God in many forms, in many contexts, and in many ways -- including outside of formal worship services. It is also helpful for a gifted author to describe a bit of how the stresses of serving as a religious leader can sometimes become an obstacle to personal faith.
However, I was mostly disappointed with this book. Time and again, I had the sneaking suspicion that much of the story was being consciously left out. I can understand the need for anonymity and for protecting the privacy of others, so I understand that many stories probably could not be told at all, for fear that they would betray a confidence. Granting this, though, the book still seemed overly disingenuous -- that Brown Taylor was not protecting the privacy of others as much as she was protecting -- or maybe even avoiding -- herself.
Perhaps others who are not pastors will appreciate the book more, and probably they are Brown Taylor's intended audience. From colleagues and others, I have heard of many who have found "Leaving Church" to be wonderful. Sadly, I found it otherwise.
After five and a half years in rural Georgia she eventually found her priestly calling was not to a church but to the university. She didn’t renounce her ordination; rather she simply changed the focus of her ministry. In her description of life in parish ministry it seems clear that she entered a church completely ready to take care of her congregation but wholly unprepared to take care of herself. At one point Taylor describes what her Sabbath day entailed and it becomes clear that she knew the word but had never learned how to put it into practice.
pg 226 "On the twentieth anniversary of my ordination, I would have to say that at least one of the things that almost killed me was becoming a professional holy person."
Throughout the book, as Brown's career as a priest seems to get better and
I would recommend this book to any, but especially to those who seem to have lost their connection with God.
Her section on "tame worship" also made me stop and think of myself - and how I often only "show up" for service without the energy and passion that would make my worship meaningful to me
I agree with one of the other reviews - there was no development of relationships with other people - esp. her husband. A couple of times I wondered if he was even still around. I can't imagine not including his role in her decision to walk away from Grace-Calvary and I was most curious about his relationship with the Native American worship.
In this book Taylor tells the story of her faith journey from a young girl always interested in matters of
"Leaving Church" is a guide for believers of all faiths. The ups and downs, the questions, the challenges, the everyday struggle to put faith in action--all these must be handled not just by clergy, but by all persons of faith. Taylor does not provide answers, but she provides an example for others. Her faith is not one of dogma, but one of trust. This is a book to be read and re-read. Her writing is sincere, but not preachy; thoughtful, but not difficult.
It's disconcerting to realize that this wonderful woman has been writing books for a while and I just now found her. She has captured my heart much like Frederick Buechner and Philip Yancey did years ago - with her honesty about God, the church and why
Barbara now understands what he meant.
So do I.
I was asked to read the book by a Christian friend who was reading it for a Sunday School class, and wanted to know what I thought -- most of the class
I thought that as a memoir, it sometimes had too much information, and sometimes too little.
I usually write longer reviews, but I don't think I'm going to do so for this book, at least not right now; I will say that I found it very touching and impactful.