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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faithby Barbara Brown Taylor
Synopses & Reviews
In her critically acclaimed Leaving Church ("a beautiful, absorbing memoir."—Dallas Morning News), Barbara Brown Taylor wrote about leaving full-time ministry to become a professor, a decision that stretched the boundaries of her faith. Now, in her stunning follow-up, An Altar in the World, she shares how she learned to encounter God beyond the walls of any church.
From simple practices such as walking, working, and getting lost to deep meditations on topics like prayer and pronouncing blessings, Taylor reveals concrete ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see. Something as ordinary as hanging clothes on a clothesline becomes an act of devotion if we pay attention to what we are doing and take time to attend to the sights, smells, and sounds around us. Making eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store becomes a moment of true human connection. Allowing yourself to get lost leads to new discoveries. Under Taylor's expert guidance, we come to question conventional distinctions between the sacred and the secular, learning that no physical act is too earthbound or too humble to become a path to the divine. As we incorporate these practices into our daily lives, we begin to discover altars everywhere we go, in nearly everything we do.
"Author of an acclaimed memoir (Leaving Church) and a gifted preacher, Taylor is one of those rare people who truly can see the holy in everything. Since everyone should know such a person, those who don't can — no, must — read this book, with its friendly reminders of everyday sacred. Taylor's 12 chapters mine the potentially sacred meaning of simple daily activities and conditions, like walking, paying attention, saying no to work one Sabbath day each week. Hanging laundry is setting up a prayer flag, for God's sake. Since Taylor, an Episcopal priest, no longer pastors a church, she can 'do church' everywhere: in line at the grocery store interacting with the cashier, walking a moonlit path with her husband. Her candor is another of the book's virtues: she is a failure at prayer, and cannot explain why or how it is, or isn't, answered ('I do not know any way to talk about answered prayer without sounding like a huckster or a honeymooner'). Savor this book." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“This is the most completely beautiful book in religion that I have read in a very long time. Gentle, humbly crafted, lyrical, and deeply wise.” — Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence
“Taylor, as thinker and stylist, ranks with the best. . . . This book is not a page-turner. Its a page-lingerer. I wore out a highlighter marking passages I want to read again.” — Dallas Morning News
Barbara Brown Taylor, acclaimed author of Leaving Church, continues her spiritual journey in An Altar in the World. With the honesty of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and the spiritual depth of Anne Lamott (Grace, Eventually), Taylor reveals how to encounter the sacred as a natural part of everyday life.
About the Author
Barbara Brown Taylor's last book, Leaving Church, was met with widespread critical acclaim including the New York Times, USA Today, NPR's Fresh Air, and others. Taylor spent fifteen years in parish ministry and was named one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English-speaking world by Baylor University in 1996. She became a professor of religion at Piedmont College in 1998 and also teaches spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary. Still a priest in the Episcopal church, Taylor has traveled the world in pursuit of sacred wisdom, finding most of what she needed in her backyard. She lives on a working farm in rural north Georgia with her husband, Ed.
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