Women of Faith: What other religions teach us about our own

Barbara Brown Taylor is an author, teacher and Episcopal priest
Barbara Brown Taylor is a best-selling author, teacher and Episcopal priest. Her latest book is “Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others."
Photo courtesy of E. Lane Gresham

Barbara Brown Taylor was an Episcopal priest for 20 years before she started teaching a world religion class at a small private college in Georgia. She promised her students that “studying other faiths would not make them lose their own.” But what she discovered was that it does make you question, re-examine and perhaps ultimately treasure your own in new ways.

Her latest book, “Holy Envy,” describes the journey she undertook as she sought to make other faiths real. To make world religions more personal and less abstract, she took her mostly Christian students to visit mosques, meditation centers, synagogues and Hindu and Buddhist temples. She found that observing other faiths from the view of an adherent, rather than an outsider, taught her to see the beauty in the many approaches to God. “I would walk in and immediately find something to fall in love with,” she said in a recent Fresh Air interview. “The beauty of the space, the tenor of the discourse, the teacher for the evening, the hospitality we were offered. I ended up being just bowled over by the beauty and kindness that I encountered every place I went.”

It’s a fitting conclusion to our wide-ranging and expansive Women of Faith series. On Wednesday, Kerri Miller spoke with Taylor about how we leave room for holy envy in our spiritual lives and why it’s so crucial in today’s fast-changing world.


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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