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Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith [Hardcover]

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Item Number 56219  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   234
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 30, 2006
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060771747  
EAN  9780060771744  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Chronicles a female preacher's personal odyssey of faith and the tensions of her religious life, a conflict that leads her to leave the church in order to maintain her relationship with God.

Publishers Description

By now I expected to be a seasoned parish minister, wearing black clergy shirts grown gray from frequent washing. I expected to love the children who hung on my legs after Sunday morning services until they grew up and had children of their own. I even expected to be buried wearing the same red vestments in which I was ordained.

Today those vestments are hanging in the sacristy of an Anglican church in Kenya, my church pension is frozen, and I am as likely to spend Sunday mornings with friendly Quakers, Presbyterians, or Congregationalists as I am with the Episcopalians who remain my closest kin. Some-times I even keep the Sabbath with a cup of steaming Assam tea on my front porch, watching towhees vie for the highest perch in the poplar tree while God watches me. These days I earn my living teaching school, not leading worship, and while I still dream of opening a small restaurant in Clarkesville or volunteering at an eye clinic in Nepal, there is no guarantee that I will not run off with the circus before I am through. This is not the life I planned, or the life I recommend to others. But it is the life that has turned out to be mine, and the central revelation in it for me -- that the call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human -- seems important enough to witness to on paper. This book is my attempt to do that.

After nine years serving on the staff of a big urban church in Atlanta, Barbara Brown Taylor arrives in rural Clarkesville, Georgia (population 1,500), following her dream to become the pastor of her own small congregation. The adjustment from city life to country dweller is something of a shock -- Taylor is one of the only professional women in the community -- but small-town life offers many of its own unique joys. Taylor has five successful years that see significant growth in the church she serves, but ultimately she finds herself experiencing "compassion fatigue" and wonders what exactly God has called her to do. She realizes that in order to keep her faith she may have to leave.

Taylor describes a rich spiritual journey in which God has given her more questions than answers. As she becomes part of the flock instead of the shepherd, she describes her poignant and sincere struggle to regain her footing in the world without her defining collar. Taylor's realization that this may in fact be God's surprising path for her leads her to a refreshing search to find Him in new places. Leaving Church will remind even the most skeptical among us that life is about both disappointment and hope -- and ultimately, renewal.

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More About Barbara Brown Taylor

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Barbara Brown Taylor is an Episcopal priest. She holds the Harry R. Butman Chair in Religion and Philosophy at Piedmont College in northeastern Georgia and serves as adjunct professor of Christian spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur. Recognized as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English language by Baylor University in 1995, Taylor has published numerous collections of her sermons and theological reflections, including Mixed Blessings, The Preaching Life, Speaking of Sin, Bread of Angels, Home By Another Way, and Gospel Medicine. Information about Barbara Brown Taylor's speaking engagements can be found on her website: http: //

Barbara Brown Taylor currently resides in the state of Georgia.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
For Pastors Who Have Considered Leaving Ministry  Mar 27, 2007

Nearly 18,000 pastors leave ministry each year in the United States. This is the story of one. Barbara Brown Taylor does a magnificent job of telling her story. She is a gifted writer. Any pastor who has struggled with the "pastoral call" will relate to portions of this book. I do have one word of caution to add. Taylor writes from a specific theological perspective. Those whose frame of reference is from another perspective might begin to tune out when confronted with the differences. Please, do not do so. This story goes beyond doctrinal distinctives.

Barbara Brown Taylor is an adjunct professor of Christian spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary. She is an editor-at-large and columnist for THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY. She has written several books. She was named one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world by Baylor University. Her story is worth reading.
Engaging & thought provoking...   Mar 25, 2007
Barbara Brown Taylor is a gifted writer & I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent reading her memoir. I loved her descriptions of how she felt God led her from here to there and her thoughtful reflections on the meaning of her life. I loved her acceptance and open attitude toward others... she muses about what kind of a world would this be if we all LISTENED to each other and learned about each other, rather than judging and preaching. This book was a joy to read as well as offering me a hand down my own path of faith.
A kindred spirit  Feb 24, 2007
I felt like I found a kindred spirit as I read Barbara Brown Taylor's journey of faith. I didn't want the book to end any more than I want a good coffee time with a friend to end. Barbara remains respectful throughout even as she "camps out on the edges" of the church world. A beautiful memoir.
4 1/2 Stars...Holy Ignorance  Feb 21, 2007
The title of this book caught my eye from a bookstore shelf. It rang like a tiny bell, like one only I could hear. I had spent years in official "ministry," only to discover the alienation and drain that such a thing imposes on a person. I'd watched people change their demeanor and speech patterns in my presence. I'd realized the unintentional gulf that went against everything Jesus himself came to overcome. When I left that position, I did so hoping to know people as they really are, to meet them along the road, dusty and dirty as I.

On the surface, Taylor's book is more gracious and reverent than an Anne Lamott title, but her heart beats with the same frustrations and struggles. Her words ring true. The first third of the book covers her move toward ministry in the Episcopalian church, then we read of her slow disenchantment brought on by long hours and spiritual draining. Finally, we discover with her the freedom and true faith found in serving other people as one of them--not as one set above them.

There are numerous rich passages here, told with clarity and wisdom, sometimes revealed through symbolism. Although I don't necessarily agree with a few of Taylor's theological angles, I fully relate to her desire to serve God, to love others, and to stay somewhat sane in the process. While the motives of many clerics and priests may be sincere, the Mother Church (as Taylor refers to it) often takes over. The congregants, the baby chicks, are expected to stay within the safe shadows of the Church, and treated like heretics if they wander outside the yard. When Taylor describes her hunger to be part of the Mother's family, while also wanting to move on from being treated like a kid, I know just what she means. When she expresses her appreciation for holy ignorance over religious certainty, I nod my head vigorously.

For those still carrying the scars of organized religion, this book is a welcome glass of cold water--bracing, refreshing, invigorating. There is life out there. And beauty. And God's love still brings salvation to those who may never step through the doors of a church.
At last a book that expresses the Joy and the Drain of Church  Feb 16, 2007
In the opening quotation to her book, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, Barbara Brown Taylor shares these words from William Faulkner, "The only thing worth writing about is the human heart, in conflict with itself." With those prescient words, Taylor invites us to a deeply personal and moving story of her own journey of the heart, in particular her journey as a person of faith, called to minister in Christ's church. While the title may suggest a volume filled with anger or hostility toward the church, instead the reader is treated to a Valentine for faith, complete with the twists and turns of every powerful love story. For Barbara Brown Taylor is like so many of us in her relationship with the church -- one that is both deeply satisfying and life-giving and also taxing and draining at the same time. What makes her different is her ability to articulate the nuanced relationships of life and faith in God in ways most of us cannot.

From her childhood experiences of the divine through her years as one of America's most celebrated preachers, Ms. Taylor shares the inner world of a person seeking to be faithful to God's call while also seeking to live fully and authentically in God's dynamic creation. The prose is delightful and the emotion rings as sincere and deeply human.

Whether you find yourself at a crossroads of faith or simply hoping to gain compassion for those who are, this is a book to cherish. I forced myself to read it slowly, a chapter at a time, in order that it would last longer and feed me more slowly. In the last section of the book, Ms. Taylor observes this, "I may have left the house, but I have not left the relationship. After twenty years of serving Mother Church at the altar, I have pitched my tent in the yard, using much of what she taught me to make a way in the world."

Asked to speak to a church group on one occasion, the host asked Rev. Taylor, "Tell us what is saving your life now." She goes on to answer, pointing out that the beauty and depth of the question resonates with both a knowing and the recognition that we are changing all the time, as is our relationship with God and God's creation.

If you enjoy wonderful writing and themes of living in the tension of faith, you will simply love this book!

Bill Roseen, Atlanta GA

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