Monday, March 1, 2010

What I'm Reading Now: An Altar in the World

From the chapter,  "The Practice of Paying Attention," An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor:

"I learned reverence from my father. For him, it had nothing to do with religion and very little to do with God. I think it may have had something to do with his having been a soldier, since the exercise of reverence generally includes knowing your rank in the overall scheme of things. From him I learned by example that reverence was the proper atitude of a small and curious human being in a vast and fascinating world of experience. This world included people and places as well as things. Full appreciation of it required frequent adventures, grand projects, honed skills, and feats of daring. Above all, it required close attention to the way things worked, including one's own participation in their working or not working."

This is a book not about belief, but practice. As such, I keep reading it as if she were writing about the practice of writing for children.  Do we write as if were "a small and curious human being in a vast and fascinating world of experience?" Do we make room in our stories for "frequent adventure, honed skills and feats of daring"? And if our characters do not ever realize their own participation in the world "working or not working," then how can we say they have lived at all?


  1. I adore this author! She's among my favorites on this subject, and I can easily see how her thoughts can be useful for writers, whatever our genres and whomever our audiences.

  2. Thank you for calling my attention to this book, which sounds wonderful, and suggesting ways to use it. Now to look for it.

  3. Thanks for this! Wonderful way to look at our stories. I love Barbara Brown Taylor, and *just yesterday* had my eye on this book.

  4. I love Sara and her writings. An yes I do feel alittle like a child. When I trying to find the right words for my story. I'm a poor speller. So, It take's me longer to finished.


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