I have a new hero and her name is Barbara Brown Taylor.
After waiting in vain for a new book by Nora Gallagher, my jones for Episcopal women's memoirs has been filled with this, Barbara Brown Taylor's latest. Taylor was part of the early wave of ordained women in the Episcopal Church, and this book chronicles her years as the rector at a small (then suddenly rapidly-growing) parish in northeast Georgia. She begins her job with great faith and enthusiasm; by the end of the book, her enthusiasm has been crushed under the weight of a million little duties, and she takes her faith and uses it in another vocation, teaching religion to undergraduates.
I love Taylor's style; I identify with her theology; and I sure as hell couldn't do what she does. Every once in a while I wonder if I should have pursued ministry: it's in my blood, and I do like standing in front of people and talking. But the everything-else that's a part of serving God full-time -- that's what Taylor lays out, and that's what keeps me on my side of the altar.
I'll be checking out Taylor's other writings.
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor. Harper San Francisco, 2006, 224 pages.