An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

by Barbara Brown Taylor

Hardcover, 2009




In the New York Times bestseller An Altar in the World, acclaimed author Barbara Brown Taylor continues her spiritual journey by building upon where she left off in Leaving Church. With the honesty of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and the spiritual depth of Anne Lamott (Grace, Eventually), Taylor shares how she learned to find God beyond the church walls by embracing the sacred as a natural part of everyday life. In An Altar in the World, Taylor shows us how to discover altars everywhere we go and in nearly everything we do as we learn to live with purpose, pay attention, slow down, and revere the world we live in.


HarperOne (2009), Edition: 1, 240 pages

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(117 ratings; 4.3)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ElizabethAndrew
Barbara Brown Taylor is our twenty-first century Henri Nouwen. I'm immensely grateful for AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD, for its elegant, lively prose, yes, but mostly for its practical application of a big-hearted faith. In the prologue, Taylor writes, "What is saving my life now is the conviction that
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there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them." This is a profoundly feminine perspective, and profoundly Christian. Later she writes that we don't want more ABOUT God, we want MORE GOD. I love how clearly she articulates the earthly practices by which more God comes into the world, staying rooted in exquisite theology and translating these beliefs for the mundane moments of our days.

This book models for me how powerful spiritual and theological reflections can become when they are grounded in personal narrative. Taylor's every abstract pronouncement about God has its origins in her own experience. The bridge she constructs between life and faith is then strong enough for me to cross as well.

I am happy for practices that bring me back to my body, where the operative categories are not “bad” and “good” but “dead” and “alive.”
--Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, 47
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LibraryThing member JRexV
Great book about paying attention in life, living to the fullest and experiencing the sacred in everything that we do. I highly recommend this book.
LibraryThing member jclyde
While the author is an Episcopalian priest, she reflects many different perspectives, religions and cultural viewpoints. Equal parts philosophy and autobiography, this book reads like a non-judgmental spiritual self-help book that suggests ways of getting in touch with a higher power through basic
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daily tasks such as walking and cleaning house. It may be that I enjoyed this book because the author and I have so many of the same core beliefs, in which case it will not be for everyone, but for me it was a satisfying read.
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LibraryThing member auntieknickers
Although I didn't get hold of the book in time to join the online discussion,An Altar in the World was recommended to me by the RevGalBlogPals group. I wasn't completely sure about reading it, as I had very mixed feelings about Barbara Brown Taylor]'s previous book,Leaving Church: A Memoir of
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Faith. But in this newer book, Taylor seems to have become much more grounded than she seemed in Leaving Church, so I guess her decision to leave parish ministry was the right one for her and for us, her readers.
An Altar in the World is a series of chapter-length essays on spiritual practice, and most of them are not about what we usually think of as spiritual practices. Each chapter has a title and a subtitle. The subtitles are philosophical/religious sounding words like Vision, Reverence, Incarnation, Vocation. But the titles include phrases like "Waking Up to God," "Wearing Skin," "Walking on the Earth," "Getting Lost." True to the titles, Taylor expertly connects the humble or mundane -- a growling stomach, a walk in the dark, scrubbing toilets -- to scriptural wisdom from her own and other traditions.
This is not a workbook (being somebody who has a whole collection of "How to Be Perfect" books, I sort of wish it were). But it is a book that will give you work to do in the quest to connect to God, to others, and to your own spirituality. I recommend it highly.
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LibraryThing member SFCC
Barbara Brown Taylor is the daughter of my friend, the late Earl Brown. I have followed her career and her rise to international respect as an Epicopal priest who writes with such depth and passion of the world from an ordinary perspective that is really quite extraordinary. This is the most recent
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of her spiritual writings. I will catch up on this during the summer. Doc Polly
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LibraryThing member Al-G
An excellent look at practical and everyday ways to experience our faith and spirituality by an inspirational writer. If Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline" is the essential guide to formal spiritual practices then "An Altar in the World" should stand next to it as the essential guide to
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the practical application of these practices in everyday life. Taylor Brown offers ways we can express our spirituality in things like digging potatoes and encountering other people. As always her writing is fluid and readable and this is not as much an instruction manual as a theology of living that flows through life itself.
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LibraryThing member RevdRob
This is a brilliant book that reminds us how we should each be relating into the world around us.

Highly recommend it
LibraryThing member angelheart31
This book comforts me and really put things in perspectives. It's a must have book
LibraryThing member SABC
Taylor helps us find meaningful ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see everyday and incorporate these practices into our daily lives. Thru her guidance we can learn to live with purpose, pay attention, slow down, and practice reverence where ever we are.
LibraryThing member Osbaldistone
Taylor reveals clear paths to a constant prayer; constant communion; constant attentiveness. Helpful guide for living a life of awareness of the Divine.
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