Home by Another Way
Dreyer, Elizabeth A., Anglican Theological Review
Home By Another Way. By Barbara Brown Taylor. Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 1999. ix + 212 pp. $11.95 (paper).
This volume contains thirty-nine sermons arranged in groups that lead the reader through the liturgical calendar-Advent/Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter season and the time after Pentecost. As many readers of this journal may already know, Brown Brown Taylor is a dynamic, skilled storyteller. Her crisp, down-to-earth language is engaging, provocative, and accessible to the widest possible audience-a sine qua non of good worship. I approach these sermons as a consumer, a believer/theologian in the pew.
Taylor is extraordinarily skillful at bringing the biblical message to life and linking it to human experience. She does not hover on the surface of either text or experience, but instead probes both deeply, bringing the text into ever broader and deeper resonances with life and vice versa. She possesses an imaginative vision revealed in her attention to detail-she paints concrete biblical portraits and landscapes and then invites readers in. She makes bible stories seem "real" in compelling ways. In effect, she tells us that the lives and struggles of these colorful characters from millennia ago are not all that different from our own.
Taylor also delves into the inner psychic and cultural tensions with directness and honesty. And her charming sense of humor leads readers into the story and nudges them to laugh at themselves, thus paving the way to hear the more strenuous demands of gospel living (p. 120). She regularly offers the startling insight or conclusion that catches us off guard and makes us more vulnerable to really "hear" the day's Word. About Jesus' words on the cross placing Mary in John's care, she writes: "It is a gesture of surpassing sweetness, and yet you have to wonder which way it went. …