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Publisher's Summary

After nine years serving on the staff of a big urban church in Atlanta, Barbara Brown Taylor arrives in rural Clarkesville, Georgia (population 1,500), following her dream to become the pastor of her own small congregation. The adjustment from city life to country dweller is something of a shock - Taylor is one of the only professional women in the community - but small-town life offers many of its own unique joys. Taylor has five successful years that see significant growth in the church she serves, but ultimately she finds herself experiencing "compassion fatigue" and wonders what exactly God has called her to do. She realizes that in order to keep her faith she may have to leave.

Taylor describes a rich spiritual journey in which God has given her more questions than answers. As she becomes part of the flock instead of the shepherd, she describes her poignant and sincere struggle to regain her footing in the world without her defining collar. Taylor's realization that this may in fact be God's surprising path for her leads her to a refreshing search to find Him in new places. Leaving Church will remind even the most skeptical among us that life is about both disappointment and hope - and ultimately, renewal.

©2006 Barbara Brown Taylor (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Leaving Church

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    2 out of 5 stars
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disappointing

I liked BBT's book Altar in the World, but was disappointed by this story of her decision to leave parish ministry. The ego on this woman just won't stop. I was hoping for something inspirational but found largely a long justification of her decision to break a commitment she had made. I am also a parish minister and I was stunned by the level of self-importance she gave herself once she put on the clerical collar and the level of her grief at becoming an "ordinary" person again once she took it off. She's a good writer, obviously, but the book didn't meet my expectations. And the narrator read it in a saccharine, "spiritual" voice which really put me off. I made it almost to the end, but finally couldn't take it any more. Not recommended.

6 people found this helpful

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The "Voice" of the reader was cringe-worthy!

I love Barbara Brown-Taylor's work and this book was no exception. I find her authentic and relatable.
The book itself is brilliant.
However.. listening to whomever was chosen to read this book was akin to fingernails on a chalkboard. The voice was inappropriately sweet and condescending for a topic that is often wrenchingly painful for people living it.
Did the "voice" read this book prior to her recitation? Did she consider the context, audience, and purpose?
It was so terrible to listen to her sing-song glib intonations that I found this audio version of the book nearly impossible to stomach. UGH!
For those of us for whom "leaving church" has been an oft painful journey with questions and self-doubt at nearly every turn I felt almost a mocking tone from the reader. Horrible choice for the "voice" and such a shame for a brilliant book

5 people found this helpful

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Good account, lovingly written, tritely read

Taylor's open account of her personal struggle with vocation is a lovely read. Her way with words is as vivid as ever. The narration however makes the book seem trivial and affected. I yearn to listen to Barbara read this herself.

5 people found this helpful

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Worth the listen

I listened to Barbara Brown Taylor read her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark before I listened to this book. This one doesn't have as tight prose, but it's still good with lots of good stuff in it. Also, the reader was a little more saccharine? naive? than I prefer for the content, but that might just be because of how I expect that Barbara Brown Taylor would have read.

5 people found this helpful

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Barbara Brown Taylor at her best

What made the experience of listening to Leaving Church the most enjoyable?

The writers experiences are relevant and applicable for a Christian seeking to actually follow Jesus of Nazereth in 21st century America

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author herself

Which scene was your favorite?

Her surprise that God's beautiful world of nature is still there to inspire if one looks hard enough

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It is great to know others are on the same pilgrimage

5 people found this helpful

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honest, interesting

I enjoyed the last chapter the most, as it dealt with the author's thoughts for possible future paths and possibilities for Christianity. The style was a little more flowery then I personally like, but I may be being a Grinch there.
My biggest critique would be that the narrator reeds in a very upbeat smiley tone which doesn't always match the content, especially when the author is describing her father dying of cancer or the genocide of Native Americans. That made it hard to listen to.
But overall it was worth the listen, and would be of interest to those who both love the church and who are also looking for a change in Christian institutions.

2 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary!

Would you consider the audio edition of Leaving Church to be better than the print version?

I did not read the print version

What was one of the most memorable moments of Leaving Church?

When BBT began speaking of the difference between the life of faith and the life of "Mother Church," and the demands Mother Church places on the person of faith -- demands which can negatively nuance the person's faith walk.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

I loved the fact that the reader had some characteristics (like over-pronounced consonants at the ends of words) that characterize BBT's speaking style. I did not care for the reader's predictable inflections, which gave the narration a "sing-song" quality.

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  • RS
  • 02-20-18

A good read.

Leaving Church was excellent. Barbara told her journey into spirituality and becoming an ordained minister and on to leaving ministry and her relationship with God throughout. As a therapist, I can relate to caregiver fatigue, even when you love what you do. I have also chased my spirituality sometimes doing better without being tied to a church, and sometimes needing what a church can provide. This provided some excellent perspective. I highly recommend!

1 person found this helpful

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  • JC
  • 01-28-21

Not her best but still good

I’ve read several things by BBT all very well written as is this. But this doesn’t have the power of Learning to Walk in the Dark. At least not for me, but still worth the time.

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A Language I can hear

This book speaks to my heart and my life journey. Thank you Mrs. Taylor for coming along side me just when I need God most.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-06-19

thought provoking

Yes I enjoyed the verbal descriptions that gave colour and character to the story. also the honesty of the author was touching