Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friends Writing Good Books: Taylor Field

Taylor Field
on the streets of New York
I met Taylor Field back in 1981 when we were both teaching at Hong Kong Baptist College (now Hong Kong Baptist University). He was in the Religion Department, and I was in the English Department. We were both in a two-year volunteer program called the Journeyman Program with the International Mission board of the SBC. Taylor took a very active role, both in the classroom and out, in guiding the young students as they prepared to launch out into their world to find meaningful careers.

Taylor has always been strong in academics as well as action. He came to Hong Kong after having received his master's degree from Princeton and having experience ministering in the inner city of New York. After leaving Hong Kong, he earned a Ph.D and went on to direct Graffiti Ministries in New York City's Lower East Side. His latest book, Upside Down Devotion, has a lot to do with action as well as contemplation. In fact, the subtitle of the book is, Extreme Action for a Remarkable God.

Here is the review I fist posted in June of 2014:

Taylor Field's Upside Down Devotion

Taylor Field has been ministering in New York City’s Lower East Side for almost 30 years at Graffiti Church. In his new book, Upside Down Devotion: Extreme Action for a Remarkable God, he brings a wealth of insight for anyone involved in any of the helping professions. This small volume is a delight to read, and in those pages, Taylor Field moves seamlessly back and forth from insights learned on the streets to insights from literary authors, philosophers, and biblical narratives. He handles the heart of a New Testament passage with just as much insight as he has for the heart of a marginalized person living on the streets. He speaks with straightforward wisdom that will be immediately accessible to readers from all walks of life.
Upside Down Devotion is not the first book authored by Taylor Field. He has written about his work in New York City in A Church Called Graffiti: Finding Grace on the Lower East Side (2001), and Mercy Streets: Seeing Grace on the Streets of New York (2003). Taylor Field has the education and the credentials to be a university professor or an uptown pastor, yet he has chosen to take his learning and his ministry to the inner city streets. In the interest of full disclosure, one reason I know about Taylor’s background and credentials is that we became friends back in 1981 when we were both teaching in Hong Kong. I came to know him as a man of great integrity and strong intellect as well as having a heart for service, and we have kept in touch through the years. It was indeed a pleasure to read this latest work of his and I was glad to be invited to review it.
Taylor Field brings a unique perspective to bear that measures success and effectiveness differently from what one usually sees in the many “how to” guides on the market today. It is from that vantage point of faith and ministry that he began his “Upside Down” series, beginning with Upside Down Leadership: Rethinking Influence and Success in 2012 and now with his latest, Upside Down Devotion. I would definitely put Upside Down Devotion on the list of inspirational books. It is one that those who are working with relief agencies, church ministries, or in social work will find inspiring and encouraging. It is also a book that will bring inspiration and enlightenment to anyone interested in deepening his or her own spiritual life. Taylor Field brings authenticity and balance to his presentation of spirituality and social outreach.
Drawing from the Old Testament prophets, Field shines a light on the true nature of worship and devotion. If a Sunday church service ever seems stale, boring, or out of touch to you, you might be surprised that it can make God downright sick and disgusted. That is what the Old Testament prophet Amos said, and that is how the first pages of Upside Down Devotion unfold. Throughout the book, the author gently guides the reader to a place of balance, where one’s worship and one’s service can come into alignment to allow for healthy authentic living. By reminding us of the liberating words found the words and actions of Jesus, and by sharing his own stories of service to people dealing with issues ranging from addiction to mental illness and homelessness, Taylor Field demonstrates the value of living according to principles. By sharing insights from such writers as Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Soren Kierkegaard, he shows us how to live a genuine life that may seem “upside down” to some but meaningful to the one who seeks to practice faith in the real world.   

Upside Down Devotion is a book that offers practical advice to inner city ministries, social workers, relief agencies, and church mission projects (check out the appendix for a handy “Short list of Community Ministry Rules” drawn from the author’s own experiences). It can be a valuable source of inspiration for individuals wanting to live out their faith by giving something back to the community. It is not everyday that one finds a book that brings scholarship and spirituality to the street level where it can be applied to daily life. Upside Down Devotion: Extreme Action for a Remarkable God is such a book.

Book Details:
Upside Down Devotion: Extreme Action for a Remarkable God
Author: Taylor Field
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: New Hope Publishers (April 7, 2014)
ISBN-10: 159669405X
ISBN-13: 978-1596694057
For more information, go to:

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