An Altar in the World

by Barbara Brown Taylor

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.



Taylor continues to engage a big audience. An Altar in the World is a New York Times bestseller which basically means it resonates with people. Taylor reveals meaningful ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see, from simple practices such as walking, working and deep meditations on topics like prayer and pronouncing blessings, Taylor reveals concrete ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see. Something as ordinary as hanging clothes on a clothesline becomes an act of devotion if we pay attention to what we are doing and take time to attend to the sights, smells, and sounds around us. Making eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store becomes a moment of true human connection. Allowing yourself to get lost leads to new discoveries. Under Taylor's expert guidance, we come to question conventional distinctions between the sacred and the secular, learning that no physical act is too earthbound or too humble to become a path to the divine.


As we incorporate these practices into our daily lives, we begin to discover altars everywhere we go, in nearly everything we do.

Taylor states: “…life offers no shortage of opportunities to engage in physical labor. Sometimes the work comes attached to an ice storm, offering you little choice but to freeze or to cope. Other times it presents itself to you as drudgery, which you may turn into soul work by choosing the labor instead of resenting it. However the openings come to you, they offer you the chance to bear the reality of the universe in your flesh like a thorn. The difficulty, Simone Weil says, is to look upon them with love. Succeed at that, and you can be sure that what you love in Real, leading you deeper into the More that is your heart’s desire.’


This a great book for a book club as it lends itself to conversation and interaction. It helps us see the blessings of everyday life.

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