Barbara Brown TaylorEmory alumna, scholar, Episcopal priest, and bestselling author Barbara Brown Taylor joins Candler School of Theology this semester as the Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and their Impact on Culture.

In her role as the McDonald Chair, Taylor will present a public lecture titled “Learning to Walk in the Dark” on September 26 at 7:00 p.m. at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the Emory campus. Admission is free, but registration is required. Register online.

Based on her upcoming book of the same title, Taylor says the lecture will explore the formation of faith in times when we cannot see the path before us. “While human fear of the dark is so well-established that ‘darkness’ has become a synonym for everywhere we don’t want to go, we are called to keep moving even when we cannot see the way ahead,” she explains. “In spite of everything we’ve been taught, learning to walk in the dark puts us on the sacred way of unknowing, where there are fewer obstacles to encountering the God we did not make up. This path opens the possibility that walking in the dark nourishes the soul as surely as walking by the light of day.”

Taylor is the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in rural northeast Georgia, and has authored twelve books, including her memoir Leaving Church, which won critical acclaim and earned Taylor the 2006 Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association.

She received her bachelor of arts in religion from Emory in 1973 and a master of divinity from Yale in 1976. She has been an ordained priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta since 1984.

As part of her McDonald Chair appointment, Taylor will also teach a class at Candler that will focus on examining the image of Jesus through the eyes of the world’s major faiths outside Christianity.

About the McDonald Chair

The Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and Their Impact on Culture is supported by gifts from the McDonald Agape Foundation, chaired by Alonzo L. McDonald, a longtime trustee of Emory University. The McDonald Agape Foundation "supports lectures and other public presentations that deal creatively and imaginatively with the person and teachings of Jesus as they shape and form culture."

Recipients are given a distinguished visiting professorship, in which they speak and teach in the focused area of Jesus’ effect on culture and conversely, culture’s shaping of the figure of Jesus.

Past McDonald chair lecturers include Judge John T. Noonan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; composer Alice Parker; art historian Herbert Kessler; historian and documentary filmmaker Randall Balmer; and author James Carroll, among others.