They married in , a year before she was ordained as an Episcopal priest. Fourteen years her elder, he was never intimidated, she says, by a woman in a clerical collar. Taylor has been traveling a lot lately to promote her latest book, "Holy Envy. The book carries on Taylor's tradition of what she calls, "saying things you're not supposed to say. Are all religions alike?
If I love Buddhist meditation, can I still call myself a Christian? The book has attracted plenty of praise. Book critics and journalists tend to love Taylor's work. Time magazine once said that her writing "rivals the poetic power of C. Lewis and Frederick Buechner. Some say she waters down Christianity's core beliefs with a self-indulgent theology of "happy faces and pumpkins in the sky. But others say her message is needed more now than ever. Taylor feeds her horse Billy. The horses, chickens and dogs on her farm are reoccurring characters in many of her stories.
The US is the most religiously diverse nation in the world, but "in this country you can graduate college and still have no clue about the religious practices, world views, and history of billions of people," says Bussie, author of "Outlaw Christian. In person, Taylor is playful, expressive with her hands and self-deprecating.
But her voice rises in exasperation when she recounts how some Christians depict her as an outcast pastor. Taylor, though, became one of her own harshest critics when she experienced a spiritual fear that she never saw coming. Her spiritual crisis had no dramatic backdrop -- no spiritual breakthrough on some vision quest alone in the woods. She says she lost her way in the church after she found a new home in the classroom.
When she started to teach a college course in world religions, something odd happened. She was enthralled when teaching students about other faiths and taking them on field trips to mosques, temples and Buddhist centers. But when the class syllabus turned to Christianity, her fire sputtered. She started to feel as if she was spiritually "sleeping around. She felt as if she was a spiritual shoplifter.
Taylor carefully shows the Tibetan prayer book she keeps in her library. She was impressed by Buddhists because they weren't interested in opposing any other religion or converting anyone. She was astonished by the graciousness of an imam who told her class after they visited a mosque: "Our deepest desire is not that you become Muslim, but you become the best Christian, the best Jew, the best person you can be.
And she was ashamed to learn how much her own faith had "scorched" other religious traditions by the way the faithful treated non-Christians. Taylor knew what she was taught: Jesus was the way, salvation is found in no other name, and at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. But she also knew what she felt -- something sacred was speaking to her even when it didn't have the name Jesus attached to it. In one "Holy Envy" passage she writes: "Through the years I have spent dozens of hours in the presence of Tibetan lamas who have spoken directly to my condition. Their talks have been as meaningful to me as anything I have heard from teachers in my own traditions What can this mean?
It couldn't mean anything good when she thought back to her days following a fear-based Christianity that she thought she had abandoned. Scriptures that declared that God was a "jealous God," and passages where prophets described those who turned to other gods as whores flashed in her memory.
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Religious artifacts from around the world are displayed on the shelves of Taylor's library. Taylor says she felt like a little child, scared that she would lose her heavenly father's love forever. She was in for a surprise.
Turns out the New Testament is full of Jesus' interfaith encounters. Some of the best-known stories about Jesus depict his admiration for those outside his religion, she says. She cites some of them in her book: Jesus being astonished by the faith of a Roman centurion who wanted his servant healed; the Samaritan leper who impressed Jesus with his gratitude; the Syrophoenician woman whose wit and love for her daughter caught Jesus by surprise. They were all people who worshiped other Gods or worshiped the same one Jesus did in an unorthodox way, she says.
Taylor amplifies the point from her living room. Her voice rises in volume.
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She's no longer cracking jokes and laughing. She's going into preaching mode. Nor is he trying to convert everybody. He's just dealing with people who are hungry. Taylor collects greens growing on her farm for dinner. Taylor stopped seeing herself as the wayward child risking God's wrath because she was dazzled by the faith of others. There are still nagging questions, though, about where Taylor stands with her own faith.
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He said love God and your neighbor. That's about all I can handle day by day. Taylor has gone to everything from a sprawling evangelical mega church to a tiny African-American Catholic parish and a storefront church in a strip mall in recent years. Those answers, though, are the kind of poetic musings that still make some Christians suspicious. Is she more than "happy faces and pumpkins in the sky?
The violence of the cross is necessary because of our sin. Jesus did not have to hang on the cross any longer for your disgraced pastor than he did for you. We are to protect and guide each other by speaking the truth in love. Which brings me to 5. Romans lists gossips among murderers, slanderers and haters of God. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Our sin has a way of blinding us to the ways we are missing the mark and making us hypersensitive to how others fall short.
We must be most concerned with the sin in our own lives. When you see the impact of sin in the life of someone else, take the opportunity to assess your own life. Repeat the prayer of King David and ask the Lord to root out all sin in your heart. Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
What the world rarely gets to see is the powerful grace that flows from a deep faith predicated on the belief that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. The article went on to tell the story of a man whose wife and daughter were brutally killed. When asked what he would say to the killer if given the chance, he said, "I would say, 'I forgive you. These are graphic pictures of forgiveness.
Forgiveness often feels so gut wrenching that we want to run in the opposite direction. But the Bible reminds us that we can extend forgiveness because we have been forgiven of so much.
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The article quoted above is proof that the world is watching. Yes, they watch when we fall short, but they also watch when we respond to sin like God has called us to. We are the billboard God wants to use to tell the world about Him. What story are you telling with your response to sin in your own life and in the lives of others?
As Christians, we will continue to disappoint each other. We will sin in public and in private. We will mess up our lives and hurt each other.