An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor

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By Barbara Brown Taylor

“This is the main thoroughly appealing publication in faith that i've got learn in a long time. mild, humbly crafted, lyrical, and deeply wise.” — Phyllis Tickle, writer of The nice Emergence

“Taylor, as philosopher and stylist, ranks with the easiest. . . . This e-book isn't really a page-turner. It’s a page-lingerer. I wore out a highlighter marking passages i need to learn again.” — Dallas Morning News

Barbara Brown Taylor, acclaimed writer of Leaving Church, keeps her religious trip in An Altar within the World. With the honesty of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and the religious intensity of Anne Lamott (Grace, Eventually), Taylor finds tips to come upon the sacred as a common a part of daily life.

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When people of varying religious conviction are surveyed, those who frequently pray and attend religious services report doing more prosocial acts—­volunteering more and giving more to charity—­than less religious people. 2 A better way to answer these questions would be to rely on the gold standard of the scientific method: we could get conclusive answers if we designed experiments in which people are randomly assigned to “religion” or to a control condition, and then measure actual prosocial behavior in controlled conditions.

They are instructed to press a certain button to avoid seeing the answer. Dishonesty is measured as the frequency of instances that participants fail to press this button. In another paradigm, participants take a paper-­and-­pencil test and are randomly assigned to one of two conditions: in the “cheating” condition, an honor system is implemented where participants turn in their answers after recording the percentage of correct responses. In the “no-­cheating” condition, the experimenter verifies the number of correct answers in person.

Our daily lives are replete with evidence of this basic principle. Drivers reduce their speed when they notice a police car in their rearview mirror. 19 20 Chapter 2 When cameras and mirrors are installed in shopping malls, the temptation to steal is dampened. Politicians and corporations are less corrupt when they are held accountable to voters or to shareholders, respectively. There is less temptation to cheat the system when earnings and expense accounts of public servants and corporate bigwigs are made public.

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