Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Brown Taylor’

Neither Here nor There - Cover ImageI am pleased to announce that the new anthology of liminality, Neither Here nor There: The Many Voices of Liminality, is now available for pre-order! This anthology of sixteen international authors has been in process for three years and has finally come into fruition. As the editor I chose all the contributors, edited their work,  and penned the Introduction, First Chapter and Conclusion. Barbara Brown Taylor has written a stunning Foreword.

Liminality is the in-between state of being, the transitional domain, between the known of ordinary life and the unknown of the future. That ambiguous state includes great disruption as well as the potential of deep transformation.

From Barbara Brown Taylor’s Foreword:

“You are holding a wondrous book in your hands, full of startling stories about people who accept the risks of engaging liminal space … I can ignore these liminal gifts as easily as anyone but, like the other authors in this book, I am convinced that they deserve my best attention, both for myself and for the life of the world. In all the ways that matter, they are the truest parts.”

And Brian McLaren’s endorsement:

“Timothy Carson has brought together an amazing array of diverse writers of uncommon skill to transport readers to a place they may never have been before, a space between familiar spaces and beyond the dualist mind.”

Please share the good news with all those who may not only find this book personally intriguing but also a helpful tool for study groups and classes.

As we pause on the edge of another Lenten season we dare to redefine the dark, not as only the opposite of light, the dreaded negative where everything sinister that can be is. We dare to recover the dark and its gifts for us. “I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places” says Isaiah (45:3).

The inspiration for this season of dark rescue is Barbara Brown Taylor and her beautiful book Learning to Walk in the Dark. She test drove these twilight insights for several years and many public outings before they took up permanent residence between two covers.

For those of us who embrace non-dual thinking her writing is a cool drink of water. Even so, as long as we read scripture, sing hymns or speak a language shaped over centuries, the dualism of light and dark is embedded there. Our thinking contains a heavy overlay of dualism and the definition of darkness is part of that legacy. It even shows up in our culture in the many ways we describe the relative merits of race, with light being better than dark.

Granted, without the nurture of the sun, light that sprays the planet with everything that is required, and as long as night provides cover for predators to do what they do best to the unsuspecting, our fears will make journey difficult: beware of the dark. It is hard to remain open and fearful at the same time.

For now I am turning off some lights. Not only to save energy, though that is good. I am turning them off in order to see what is there without them. It’s hard to see the Milky Way any more, unless you free yourself from the omnipresent ambient light, that is. The glare keeps the dark from sharing what it can. I am ready to receive.

The name Barbara Brown Taylor is not new to any of us and neither are the titles of her books. But her new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark, takes us down a new spiritual path for her even if it is not new to the Christian tradition. The via negativa, as it is called, finds God in the darkness, the no-thing, the silence.

Though much of Taylor’s previous life focused on the via positiva, her present trajectory of spirit has taken her in the other direction, not unusual for mystics in general and even more common as they enter the reflective twilight of the second half of life.

So she speaks of befriending the darkness and the speaking voice that can only be found there. Abandon your cheery quest for the happy feet of contemporary always grinning worship. Unplug from your sensory entertain-a-thon.

In her words:

“Turning to darkness, instead of away from it, is the cure for a lot of what ails me. Because I have a deep need to be in control of things, to know where I am going, to be sure of my destination, to get there efficiently, to have all the provisions I need, to do it all without help – and you can’t do any of that in the dark.”

“If we turn away from darkness on principle, doing everything we can to avoid it because there is simply no telling what it contains, isn’t there a chance we are running away from God?”

Go deep, church. Go ancient. Go dark.