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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Luminous Web: Essays on Science and Religion by Barbara Brown Taylor

Barbara Brown Taylor is one of my favorite authors, but this slim, early book of hers didn't offer the candid, thought-provoking, wise voice I've loved in some of her other books.

As Joseph Campbell once asked, what if the universe is not merely the product of God but also the manifestation of God....

Barbara Brown Taylor is an Episcopal priest who left a position as a church pastor and is now a college professor. I link below to my rave reviews of her books An Altar in the World (in which "Taylor explores the ways she grounds herself in everyday life while connecting with deeper meaning") and Holy Envy (which I described as "a thought-provoking, accessible look at world religions").

The Luminous Web, published in 2000, is a slim (74-page) book, quite different from either of those titles. The proposed exploration of the intersection of science and religion within The Luminous Web was an irresistible premise. I just didn't feel as though the book ever delivered depth on the topic.

The book contains many (for me, it feels like too many) quotes from scientists and religious thinkers. Understandably, because the interplay between science and religion is complex, centuries old, and ongoing, the author doesn't assert earth-shattering revelations that resolve the challenges of reconciling science and religion, nor does she resolve the layered push and pull between reason and faith.

I appreciated Barbara Brown Taylor's aim to close the gap between the sacred and secular, and I respected how she leant deeply into the unknowing wonder at the heart of faith.

But when I finished the book, I found myself with as many, if not more, questions as I had when I began. Because I find BBT so illuminating, so candid, so thought-provoking, and so fully presented in her own voice in her other books, I was left feeling dissatisfied here.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Barbara Brown Taylor is also the author of An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, Learning to Walk in the Dark, and Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith.


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