Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to go out for a varsity sport. Though there were many reasons, they all boiled down to this: I wanted to connect more with my father. You see growing up I knew my dad was a real manly kind of man. He went loved hunting and fishing, fixed things around the house and worked on cars because he liked it. I wasn’t a huge fan of fishing (I found it kind of boring, but at least you could read). I didn’t care for hunting (same as fishing, but without the book) and I really, really wasn’t interested in rebuilding cars (Dad would have to wait for my youngest sister to find a kindred spirit there). It’s not that I ever thought my dad was disappointed in me. I knew he wasn’t. It was just that there weren’t a lot of interests we had in common and I wanted more of a connection with him.

So, I asked around among friends on the different teams trying to find a sport that I had a chance of lettering in with only one season. My friend Adam convinced me with this advice: “Running cross country is easy. Step one: start running … that’s it. There is no step two.” (Advice I would later hear eerily echoed by NPH’s Barney on How I Met Your Mother). I joined the team, I earned my varsity letter, got the jacket, connected a bit more with my dad and learned that I hate running. I’d rather walk.

For this reason, I was more than a little excited about Charles Foster’s entry in the Ancient Practices Series, The Sacred Journey.  I envisioned a solitary soul purposefully walking across deserts and scaling mountains.

It didn’t take long before I realized I had it all wrong.

Foster’s book is less about walking and more about moving. Moving from a place of normalcy in the name of God, in search of a place that feels sacred where we can experience God more intimately, precisely and poignantly. I very much enjoyed Foster’s interweaving of his own experiences with the history of the importance of sacred journeys within the Christian tradition.

I’m not as big a fan of one of his repeated claims throughout his book, that God has a preference for the pilgrim and disdain for those who settle. Though Foster points to Jesus’ status as a camping wanderer, I just don’t buy that God hates the city. God can work just as decidedly in transforming people in the city as He can on the road.

In spite of my main issue with it, I recommend you pick up The Sacred Journey. It will challenge you in a way that I imagine you haven't been challenged before.  It'll be good for you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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