Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


Barbara Brown Taylor On Giving Up Power and “Spiritual Poverty”

Leaving_church_-210Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor, is (somewhat ironically) full of enriching meditations for the church. When she left a twenty-year career as a priest and in essence also “left church,” Brown Taylor says she was compelled to let go of her power and in turn share that power with a priesthood of all believers. Three things happened, she says, in the process. First, she came to feel a sense of “tenderness” for “everyone trying to make a go out of church the way it was.” She understood even better how hard it is to be a clergy person leading the people of God and how challenging it can be to be a layperson in a church that typically revolves around the personality of its head minister.

The “second thing that happened” when Brown Taylor “lost her power,” was an appreciation for the necessity of spiritual poverty in following Jesus. Here is Brown Taylor on this quality of “spiritual poverty”:  “Since this virtue has all but vanished from the American church scene, it is often hard to recognize. 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. Yet his way endures as a way of emptying the self of all its goods instead of shoring up the self with spiritual riches. Only those who lose their lives can have them.”

The third thing that happened when Brown Taylor lost her power was this: she began to understand how her priesthood “emptied into the world.” She came to see how her vocation was one of paying attention to the holy outside of church, like in line at the post office or grocery store. She came to see that she was still very much a priest, only now a priest for the whole world.

There are numerous observations within the pages of this book that make it worth a read, but these I count as most edifying. Spiritual poverty in the public square, not the flexing of spiritual muscle, is, I think, a pathway through the wilderness for the church in America- as is a church that exists in and for the world, rather than apart from and against it.

 



Previous Posts

Mental Health Break—The Wittenburg Door
If you're not already familiar with the online humor magazine The Wittenburg Door, now you are: think The Onion marries Reformed Christian theology and they have a wickedly funny child with an aptitude for making you laugh at most things religion-related in this world.  A "thank you" to saint and s

posted 11:41:16am Aug. 16, 2014 | read full post »

What You Are Saying Re: Driscoll
My last post generated some helpful, constructive input from fellow saints and sinners who read it.  Thank you, all. Saint and sinner Bruce writes:  You know I respect you and appreciate your writing, but I think this is a pride issue, not an evangelical issue. The Catholic Church, Lutherans, P

posted 2:49:05pm Aug. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Mark Driscoll's Fall: A Day of Reckoning for Evangelicals?
[CORRECTION NOTE: An earlier version of this article suggests Mark Driscoll has in fact now resigned; this is in

posted 10:46:15am Aug. 13, 2014 | read full post »

Bobblehead Jesus
The Bobblehead Jesus I got as a stocking stuffer this past Christmas, and which now accompanies me every time I drive somewhere, inspired this morning's poem: Plastic imitation cheap meditation jumping spinning dancing to your every thought as you weave through traffic mini miracle maker wh

posted 2:25:16pm Aug. 06, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break— "Hurt" and "God's Gonna Cut You Down"
Today's break for restless souls looking for the More we've yet to find comes from Johnny Cash's

posted 10:52:38am Aug. 05, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.