Religion Magazine

You Owe Me a Pencil, Professor Taylor

By Richardl @richardlittleda

Review of ‘The Healing Word’ by Barbara Brown Taylor

I admit it, I am getting old.  These days, if I want to retain the contents of a book, I have to use a pencil. Every page which has something of merit in it gets a * on the top outside corner. If it has a memorable quote, it gets a * and “___”. When I have finished reading, I then go through and type up all the notes and quotes. Professor Taylor’s book has been so absorbing that I think I might just have to invest in a new pencil…

In a poll some years ago she was recognised as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English language, and the richness of this text makes it obvious why. There is humour, there is depth, there is a a kind of warm humanity which invites the reader to sit awhile before the roaring log fire the author has stoked with her words. Beware of sparks, though, which are liable to jump out and set light to your imagination:

  • “Unforgiveness is a boomerang”
  • “God’s silence is stunning, especially for those of us who talk a lot”
  • “We are all of us God’s elder children in the world, the ones he has left in charge”
  • “For Jesus family was not a matter of whose chromosomes you carry around inside of you but whose image you are created in.”

See what I mean? The book is organised in six sections on: healing, promises, absence, messengers, judgement and transformation. However, like good sermons the chapters are probably best not consumed back to back! Better by far to read just one chapter at a sitting and allow its rich theological and human insight to soak in.

The book’s title may be a little misleading to some. A book which talks about healing, depicts an intimate conversation on the cover, and starts off talking about Luke the healer might be expected to concentrate on healing as traditionally understood. This book does not. Instead, as the subtitle suggests, this is medicine for the soul – challenging insights and profound comforts for human beings who would live godly lives.

It is unlikely that I shall ever experience Barbara Brown Taylor’s preaching face to face. That said, this book will allow me to benefit from her ministry every time I open it, and I thoroughly commend it to you.


The Healing Word, by Barbara Brown Taylor, SPCK £9.99

The Healing Word, by Barbara Brown Taylor, SPCK £9.99


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog