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Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
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Leaving Church Quotes (showing 1-24 of 24)
“With so much effort being poured into church growth, so much press being given to the benefits of faith, and so much flexing of religious muscle in the public square, the poor in spirit have no one but Jesus to call them blessed anymore.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I know plenty of people who find God most reliably in books, in buildings, and even in other people. I have found God in all of these places too, but the most reliable meeting place for me has always been creation. Since I first became aware of the Divine Presence in that lit-up field in Kansas, I have known where to go when my own flame is guttering. To lie with my back flat on the fragrant ground is to receive a transfusion of the same power that makes the green blade rise. To remember that I am dirt and to dirt I shall return is to be given my life back again, if only for one present moment at a time. Where other people see acreage, timber, soil, and river frontage, I see God's body, or at least as much of it as I am able to see. In the only wisdom I have at my disposal, the Creator does not live apart from creation but spans and suffuses it. When I take a breath, God's Holy Spirit enters me. When a cricket speaks to me, I talk back. Like everything else on earth, I am an embodied soul, who leaps to life when I recognize my kin. If this makes me a pagan, then I am a grateful one.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“The world for which you have been so carefully prepared is being taken away from you,' he said, 'by the grace of God.' (Walter Brueggemann)”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“...salvation is not something that happens only at the end of a person's life. Salvation happens every time someone with a key uses it to open a door he could lock instead.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“What I noticed at Grace-Calvary is the same thing I notice whenever people aim to solve their conflicts with one another by turning to the bible: defending the dried ink marks on the page becomes more vital than defending their neighbor. As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God. In the words of Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas, 'People of the Book risk putting the book above people.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“If churches saw their mission in the same way, there is no telling what might happen. What if people were invited to come tell what they already know of God instead of to learn what they are supposed to believe? What if they were blessed for what they are doing in the world instead of chastened for not doing more at church? What if church felt more like a way station than a destination? What if the church’s job were to move people out the door instead of trying to keep them in, by convincing them that God needed them more in the world than in the church?”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I had done everything I knew how to do to draw as near to the heart of God as I could, only to find myself out of gas on a lonely road, filled with bitterness & self-pity. To suppose that I had ended up in such a place by the grace of God required a significant leap of faith. If I could open my hands, then all that fell from them might flower on the way down. If I could let myself fall, then I too might land in a fertile place.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“The effort to untangle the human words from the divine seems not only futile to me but also unnecessary, since God works with what is. God uses whatever is usable in a life, both to speak and to act, and those who insist on fireworks in the sky may miss the electricity that sparks the human heart.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I know that the Bible is a special kind of book, but I find it as seductive as any other. If I am not careful, I can begin to mistake the words on the page for the realities they describe. I can begin to love the dried ink marks on the page more than I love the encounters that gave rise to them. If I am not careful, I can decide that I am really much happier reading my Bible than I am entering into what God is doing in my own time and place, since shutting the book to go outside will involve the very great risk of taking part in stories that are still taking shape. Neither I nor anyone else knows how these stories will turn out, since at this point they involve more blood than ink. The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God's sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“If I had to name my disability, I would call it an unwillingness to fall. On the one hand, this is perfectly normal. I do not know anyone who likes to fall. But, on the other hand, this reluctance signals mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel: life springs from death, not only at the last but also in the many little deaths along the way. When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there – not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene – promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall. Ironically, those who try hardest not to fall learn this later than those who topple more easily. The ones who find their lives are the losers, while the winners come in last.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“In a quip that makes the rounds, Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom, but it was the church that came. All these years later, the way many of us are doing church is broken and we know it, even if we do not know what to do about it. We proclaim the priesthood of all believers while we continue with hierarchical clergy, liturgy, and architecture. We follow a Lord who challenged the religious and political institutions of his time while we fund and defend our own. We speak and sing of divine transformation while we do everything in our power to maintain our equilibrium. If redeeming things continue to happen to us in spite of these deep contradictions in our life together, then I think that is because God is faithful even when we are not.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I have learned to prize holy ignorance more highly than religious certainty and to seek companions who have arrived at the same place. We are a motley crew, distinguished not only by our inability to explain ourselves to those who are more certain of their beliefs than we are but in many cases by our distance from the centers of our faith communities as well.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“...a priest is someone willing to stand between a God and a people who are longing for one another's love, turning back and forth between them with no hope of tending either as well as each deserves. To be a priest is to serve a God who never stops calling people to do more justice and love more mercy, and simultaneously to serve people who nine times out of ten are just looking for a safe place to rest. To be a priest is to know that things are not as they should be and yet to care for them the way they are.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“Although I never found a church where I felt completely at home again, I made a new home in the world. I renewed my membership in the priesthood of all believers, who may not have as much power as we would like, but whose consolation prize is the freedome to meet God after work, well away from all centers of religious command, wherever God shows up.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I discovered a version of the sinner's prayer that increased my faith far more than the one that I had said years earlier...In this version, there were no formulas, no set phrases that promised us safe passage across the abyss. There was only our tattered trust that the Spirit who had given us life would not leave us in the wilderness without offering us life again.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God's name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall. This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“Committing myself to the task of becoming fully human is saving my life now...to become fully human is something extra, a conscious choice that not everyone makes. Based on my limited wisdom and experience, there is more than one way to do this. If I were a Buddhist, I might do it by taking the bodhisattva vow, and if I were a Jew, I might do it by following Torah. Because I am a Christian, I do it by imitating Christ, although i will be the first to admit that I want to stop about a day short of following him all the way.

In Luke's gospel, there comes a point when he turns around and says to the large crowd of those trailing after him, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple" (14:26). Make of that what you will, but I think it was his way of telling them to go home. He did not need people to go to Jerusalem to die with him. He needed people to go back where they came from and live the kinds of lives that he had risked his own life to show them: lives of resisting the powers of death, of standing up for the little and the least, of turning cheeks and washing feet, of praying for enemies and loving the unlovable.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“...I had arrived at an understanding of faith that had far more to do with trust than with certainty. I trusted God to be God even if I could not say who God was for sure. I trusted God to sustain the world although I could not say for sure how that happened. I trusted God to hold me and those I loved, in life and in death, without giving me one shred of conclusive evidence that it was so.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I would have to say that at least one of the things that almost killed me was becoming a professional holy person. I am not sure that the deadliness was in the job as much as it was in the way I did it, but I now have higher regard than ever for clergy who are able to wear their mantles without mistaking the fabric for their own skin. As many years as I wanted to wear a clerical collar and as hard as I worked to get one, taking it off turned out to be as necessary for my salvation as putting it on.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“They sounded different from the mouth of a young mother than they did from the mouth of a widow. This was because the words did not come straight off the page. They percolated up through the silt and gravel of real people's lives so that the meaning in them was fluid, not fixed.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“...I had spent hours talking with people who had trouble believing. For some, the issue was that they believed less than they thought they should about Jesus. They were not trouble by the idea that he may have had two human parents instead of one or that his real presence with his disciples after his death might have been more metaphysical than physical. The glory they beheld in him had more to do with the nature of his being than with the number of his miracles, but they had suffered enough at the hands of true believers to learn to keep their mouths shut.

For others, the issue was that they believed more than Jesus. Having beheld his glory, they found themselves running into God's glory all over the place, including places where Christian doctrine said that it should not be. I knew Christians who had beheld God's glory in a Lakota sweat lodge, in a sacred Celtic grove, and at the edge of a Hawaiian volcano, as well as in dreams and visions that they were afraid to tell anyone else about at all. These people not only feared being shunned for their unorthodox narratives, they also feared sharing some of the most powerful things that had ever happened to them with people who might dismiss them.

Given the history of Christians as a people who started out beholding what was beyond belief, this struck me as a lamentable state of affairs, both for those who have learned to see no more than they are supposed to see as well as for those who have excused themselves from traditional churches because they see too little or too much. If it is true that God exceeds all our efforts to contain God, then is it too big a stretch to declare that dumbfoundedness is what all Christians have most in common? Or that coming together to confess all that we do not know is at least as sacred an activity as declaring what we think we do know?”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“I produced a fulsome sermon. When the appointed Sunday arrived, I used all of my best grooming skills. I picked the cat hairs off my most expensive suit, smoothed my hair, and put a Band-aid on the thumb I had chewed while working overtime on my sermon. Once I met the delegation at church I did my best to dazzle them, and after the service was over we sat for almost two hours in a Sunday School room as I answered question after question about my history, my beliefs, my weaknesses, and my strengths. One man on the committee noticed the Band-aid on my thumb. "What did you do to yourself?" he asked sympathetically. "I cut it while I was cooking, "I lied.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
“about that too, ma’am,” he said, writing up her citation, “but what made”
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

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