Barbara Brown Taylor has been called one of the effective preachers in the English language.
She’s one of Christianity’s most influential writers.
Now, the Georgia-based theologian and best-selling author of “Leaving Church” and “Learning to Walk in the Dark” has turned her attention to reaching young minds.
“Christmas is a tough season,” said Taylor, who recently released her first children’s book, “Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story” on Flyaway Books.
“There is so much oversell and such high expectations,” she said. “Everyone gets into buying and selling happiness a lot. This is a quieter story.”
The 40-page book follows the three wise men on their journey to Bethlehem. It focuses on the travelers but also the star that guides them.
The book grew out of a suggestion by her editor, who said so many of her sermons sounded like short stories, why not turn one into a children’s book?
Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story.”
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Once she saw the work of illustrator Melanie Cataldo, she was hooked.
“She turned my black and white words into living color,” said Taylor, who has taught at Piedmont College, Columbia Theological Seminary and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. “This is probably how a playwright feels when she sees her play on stage. I had no idea it could come to life that way.”
The wise men set on a tough journey of the unknowing, said Taylor, an Episcopal priest and 2015 Georgia Woman of the Year.
“They’re not sure where they are going, what they might find or the dangers they might run into,” she said. However, “they’re being drawn by a bright star.”
The story illustrates the importance “venturing a little ways from the safe spaces from time to time,” she said. “It’s a simple human story.”
Sure, there is a faith aspect embedded in the story. How could it not be with three wise men, a bright star and a baby?
“Everyone has heard this story in some form or another,” she said. “The retelling of it just stresses the human aspects. This is not a book to convince anybody that Jesus is the son of God. The book just talks about three wise men from the East who are really brought to their knees by a baby, which is true for a lot of us if you think about it.”