Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning To Walk In The Dark: What Are You So Afraid Of? (Book Review)

I am a novice reader of Taylor’s. Granted, there have been a number of sermons I’ve heard that cited her works (Leaving The Church) but I’d never read one of her books. When Learning To Walk In The Dark arrived, I dove into the world she explored through the lens of faith. I learned about constellations, collecting chicken eggs, and, the impact of the lightbulb on humanity. It’s artfully wrapped together in a way that takes complex ideas and allows her readers to digest and internalize the possibilities.

“When we run from darkness, how much do we really know about what we’re running from?” Taylor asks. She challenges us to consider whether we divide things into light and dark on principle, either/or, and if we’ve made the definitive dividing line into something that causes us to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ But she also proposes that it’s possible that what we experience as a ‘bump in the night’ is actually God, holy, or necessary for our growth as human beings and people of faith.

Deeper into the book, as she explores these possibilities of the darkness, Taylor reminds us that faith/religion doesn’t just translate, but that it also transforms, that the salvation of ourselves and our lives begins with Jesus’ understanding that we will die to ourselves. Here, we see an echo of baptism, that we (in immersion) are plunged into the water to ‘die’ and rising to live, we also experience the ‘death’ of what we know when we leave the light in which we can see to venture into the dark.

Taylor’s exploration has me thinking about my perception of light and dark (even my divisions of ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’), in a way that I’ll be wrestling for days. She proposes in the epilogue that “the real problem has far less to do with what is really our there [in the dark] than it does with our resistance to finding out what is really out there.” She’s opened my eyes to what could be, and I’m better for it.


About Jacob Sahms

I'm searching for hope in the midst of the storms, raising a family, pastoring a church, writing on faith and film, rooting for the Red Sox, and sleeping occasionally. Find me at,, and the brand new
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