Book Review


This week I've read Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World. The subtitle of this book is "A Geography of Faith" (isn't that intriguing?) and this work focuses on encountering God beyond church walls. For years I have consciouslyendeavored to not be just a Sunday morning Christian. I'm not professing to be an expert by any means, just someone who sees Sunday morning worship in a church sanctuary as a mere bit of what we're called to. 


The Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" has always spoken to me. Therefore I think the chapter titles of simple practices such as waking up, walking, paying attention, getting lost, and carrying water immediately pulled me into this read. I especially enjoyed the chapter on keeping the Sabbath that is entitled "The Practice of Saying No." A decade ago I had the pleasure of attending a national church women's conference where I attended a workshop on this subject. Realizing that I'd never really thought about the commandment about keeping the Sabbath was quite an awakening. On some Sunday's a do much better than others with making a 24 hour intentional connection to God by resting. In Taylor's chapter about this practice I laughed out loud when I read that it's polite in China to respond to "How are you?" with "Busy like crazy, but what else is new? And you?" I pondered her notion that the tradition of kicking back and relaxing on Sunday in America started to fall by the wayside when professional football began to be televised. And, I reflected on my own current practices after reading Taylors commentary of theologian Karl Barth's writing, "A being is free only when it can determine and limit its activity." This chapter extended my thinking and reinforced that I need to keep working on living in God.


An Altar in the World has caused me to pause and think. I'm glad I stumbled upon this title. I'm off to go see if I can, as Taylor suggests, see Holy in every component of my day today.