The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor

The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor is a wonderful book. In Part 2 of the book, Taylor’s use of imagery and imagination brings fresh insight to common biblical texts. The reader is taken beyond simple doctrinal “answers.” Instead he is invited to engage the living Word of God as reflected through Taylor’s poetic and insightful mind. This is preaching at its best. One of my personal favorites is “The Tenth Leper” where Taylor moves beyond a simple call to gratitude to a much deeper analysis of the nature of gratitude as an act of love. Now, that may sound boring but Taylor’s style is not a dry analysis, but a living engagement with life in light of God’s Word. After reading that sermon, I had to close the book, sit down and reflect. Taylor’s words had given me a new insight into life, an insight that is not easily put into words or concepts. I had tasted a new reality, smelled the in breaking of the Kingdom of God in a new way. I had a fresh way of approaching my everyday life. The words had moved me to an encounter with the Word.
The first part of the book is not quite as strong but is still worth reading. In it, Taylor reflects on common theological themes (e.g. Vocation, Imagination, the Church, the Bible, etc…). This part is well written but the insights are not as striking or original as those found in Part 2.
Taylor’s imaginative and engaging style is delightful to read and her use of words reveals why she is regarded as one of the premiere preachers in the United States.

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