I really enjoyed this book, but as a former evangelical who has fully embraced and fallen in love with Christ in the Catholic church (as have about a zillion other evangelicals?!), I found myself wondering why Chase decided to go back and start his own version of Christianity. Why not join the church that Jesus Christ founded; of which Francis was a part? This book brings out a lot of beauty/truth of Catholicism, but stops short of actual Truth and then lets itself be re-absorbed by the evangelical "I've-found-something-new-think-i'll-start-my-own-church!!"
In his historical novel, Chasing Francis, Ian Morgan Cron explores the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Instead of simply writing another biography of the early Catholic priest and friar, Cron retells the story through the perspective of a modern evangelical minster, named Chase falcon, who has lost his faith. Midway through a service, Chase breaks down and admits his growing doubts about Christianity. Shocked and outraged, the church elders advise Chase to take a leave of absence from the church. Chase travels to Italy where he is lead on a spiritual pilgrimage that introduces him to the ancient teachings of St. Francis.
Cron seamlessly incorporates theology lessons and history into his novel without distracting from the plot. The novel includes several of Chase's journal entries that reflect on what he is learning about Francis. Although Chase is a minster at a megachurch, he comes across as somewhat childish with respect to the Catholic faith. Early in his journey, he often jokes about religious activities the priests engage in. By having other characters correct and explain things to Chase, Cron is given more opportunities to insert historical information.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review 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 Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron is a novel that follows the senior pastor of an evangelical church who, in crisis over a longing for deeper faith, joins his uncle in Italy to embark on a pilgrimage to learn more about who St. Francis of Assisi was and how this humble monk became the first postmodern Christian. The reader is challenged to look at the way we "do" church in the twenty-first century and evaluate whether or not we are fully living the gospel of Christ and being faithful to it. What can we learn from the myriad followers of Jesus who have gone before us? Is there benefit in preserving our spiritual history and not dismissing it as ancient and arcane?
As a Christian who has been challenged over the last year to evaluate the way I have "done" church, the discovery of this book could not have been more timely. The traditions of the church, the symbols and architecture, the deep appreciation for the arts, and the centrality of the Eucharist all speak of a deeper understanding and expression of the faith that I had yet to experience. Chasing Francis, along with its study guide, has given voice to some of my spiritual longing that had yet to be fully understood.
This book is an excellent guide for anyone who is mildly curious about the more traditional ways of doing church, for those who want to take their faith deeper, and the ones who want to spur their church on to become more intentional in living out the Gospel of Christ.
I give this book 5 stars out of 5.
I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I am an armchair traveler. I love to read books, both fiction and nonfiction, that take place in faraway lands. So many times these places that a strong historical impact on the Christian faith. In Chasing Francis, Chase Falson is the pastor of a large church who is having a crisis of faith. The elders of his church strongly suggest that he take some time away. So, Chase decides to go far away to visit his uncle in Italy where he learns more than he thought possible about St. Francis of Assisi and his own faith.
This novel has three very strong aspects that made it an interesting and inspiration book. I loved the travel to a place I have never been, but would love to. This book is an excellent history lesson, but the history is woven into the story through conversations and Chase's observations and reflections, so it is never dry or boring. Chasing Francis also has the everyday scenario that all Christians face sooner or later - a crisis of faith and restoration. All of these things come together to make for an unforgettable reading experience. This book is a fast read and a relaxing read. I really enjoyed Chasing Francis and recommend it for all readers who enjoy a book that lets them learn, travel and rediscover or strengthen their faith.