Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

When God Is Silent

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

When God Is Silent

Article excerpt

When God is Silent. By Barbara Brown Taylor. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications. 132 pp. $9.95 (paper).

Many readers will already be aware of Barbara Brown Taylor's growing reputation as a preacher. In this series of three Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching delivered at Yale Divinity School in 1997 she intimately, compassionately and intelligently explores the preacher's lot. "If God spoke directly to people, then preachers could retire," she explains in the preface. "As it is, God's reticence is the problem that clergy are hired to address" (p. xi).

The lectures are mainly devoted to exploring a fundamental paradox: the preacher's dependence on words to define and capture the One who can never be fully defined or captured. Read a certain way, the book may be taken as an inventory of all that words and preaching are not able to do. But Taylor does not aim to thwart the preaching enterprise. Her own use of language is too radiant, supple, and poetic to consider abandoning words or pulpit. By example and argument she elevates the vocation of preaching and vindicates its crucial role among God's people. "When we run out of words, we are very near the God whose name is unsayable. The fact that we cannot say it, however, does not mean we may stop trying. The trying is essential to our humanity. It is how we push language to the limit so that we may listen to it as it falls, exploding into scripture, sonnet, story, song. All these may fail in the end to name the living God, but they fail like shooting stars" (pp. 91, 92).

Although the preacher's dilemma is timeless, Taylor argues that it is acute in our own day. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.