Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others

Barbara Brown Taylor. HarperOne, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-240656-9
In simple and sharp prose, Taylor (An Altar in the World), a former Episcopal priest who teaches religion at Piedmont College in Athens, Ga., explores how teaching an introductory religion course has influenced her own views on faith and Christianity. Told as a series of vignettes structured around her course tracing world religions—primarily Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism—through history, the book has an academic tone but also wonderfully imbues the mundane with meaning through descriptions of class field trips to mosques, temples, and shrines that incorporate student reports and anecdotes from class to illustrate the evolution of her students’ thinking and the changes brought by physically visiting sacred and holy places. Taylor tells her class that her real subject is “divine diversity”—the attempt to live peaceably and with convictions in a world where differing religions make wildly varying truth claims. Though the lessons and field trips touch on multiple faiths, Taylor’s meditations frequently morph into biblical exegesis as she applies the lessons of other religions to her own understanding of Christianity. For example, the openness of Buddhist monks prompts her to consider the similarities they share with Christian ascetics. For Taylor, religious strangers can be the best teachers, as they provide a new perspective on the human relationship with the divine, and, she reasons, a sophisticated theology of comparative religions should always be informed by on-the-ground research. Taylor’s fluid book, which includes a small, well-chosen bibliography, is a fine primer on interfaith studies. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-240658-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-280136-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-5384-9866-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-9867-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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