Monday, July 23, 2007

Words of Wisdom

Picked up some amazing words from Barbara Brown Taylor via Mike Cope:

"The call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human."

"I guess you could say that my losses have been chiefly in the area of faith, and specifically in the area of being certain who God is, what God wants of me, and what it means to be Christian in a world where religion often seems to do more harm than good."

"On the subject of divine guidance I side with Susan B. Anthony. 'I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do,' she once said, 'because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.' Having been somewhat of an expert on the sanctification of my own desires, I try not to pin them on God anymore. At the same time, I recognize the enormous energy in them, which strikes me as something that God might be able to use."

"As hard as I have tried to remember the exact moment when I fell in love with God, I cannot do it. My earliest memories are bathed in a kind of golden light that seemed to embrace me as surely as my mother's arms. The Divine Presence was strongest outdoors, and most palpable when I was alone."

"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."

"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."

"Once I had begun crying on a regular basis, I realized just how little interest I had in defending Christian beliefs. The parts of the Christian story that had drawn me into the Church were not the believing parts but the beholding parts. 'Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy . . .' 'Behold the Lamb of God . . .' 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock . . ."

"The easiest thing was to tell [her friends who asked why she resigned from ministry] that I had always wanted to teach college, which was true, but behind the answer lay truths harder to confess. My quest to serve God in the church had exhausted my spiritual savings. My dedication to being good had cost me a fortune in being whole. My desire to do all things well had kept me from doing the one thing within my power to do, which was to discover what it meant to be fully human."

"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."

"Once, when I attended a workshop on teaching religion, a presenter talked about how he took his students on wilderness trips to give them a taste of life nearer the edge. Whether they went hiking or white-water rafting, the point was to step outside their high-carb comfort zones long enough to encounter the untamed holiness of the wild. 'Excuse me,' a member of the audience said, 'but are there predators in those places who are above you on the food chain?' 'Well, of course not,' the presenter said. 'I wouldn't put students in danger like that.' 'I wouldn't either,' the man in the audience said, 'but don't lull them into thinking that they have experienced true wilderness. It's only wilderness if there's something out there that can eat you.'"


mlt said...

I'm always uplifted by those who have the insight and ability to say or write what it is that I feel (usually unwittingly), but can't quite express.

Jeff said...

I absolutely agree. Her words, here, are especially powerful.

Scott said...

By all means pick up a copy of that book. "Leaving Church" is absolutely phenomenal. Transcendent.

mlt said...

Here is a piece from NPR's Fresh Air, which appeared on August 28, 2006.

mlt said...

And this podcast...