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Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem
IVP Books / 2009 / Paperback
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Wanting to challenge her beliefs, Park journeyed from Rome to Jerusalem in the ancient footsteps of Helena---mother of the first Christian emperor! While traveling, she encountered Muslims, Christians, Jews, and agnostics who explained to her their thoughts on faith. Discover God through the eyes of people whose experiences are vastly different, yet surprisingly common. 330 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.
Tamara Park wanted to test her beliefs about God outside the cloistered corner of her American upbringing. So she and a couple of friends flew to Rome and from there followed the footsteps of Helena, mother of the first Christian emperor of ancient Rome, on a meandering path to Jerusalem. Along the way, she sat on all sorts of benches and talked with all sorts of people about how they thought of God. As she conversed with nuns, spies and backpackers throughout the Balkans and Middle East, she discovered understandings of the sacred in the most unexpected of encounters. In her book you'll meet Muslims, Jews, Christians and agnostics in lands that have witnessed near-endless war, tumultuous political crises, economic stagnation and religious strife. You'll see God through the eyes of people whose lived experience is profoundly different yet surprisingly common. You'll see the world through the eyes of three pilgrims and get to know God--and yourself--a little better.
When she's not listening to NPR, reading Henri Nouwen or snickering at The Onion, Tamara Park is producer for Halogen TV, a cable newtork launching in late 2009 that targets socially conscious eighteen to thirty-four-year-olds. Park has also served as Pastor of Community at Warehouse 242, a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, overseeing small groups and spiritual formation. She has a BA in Telecommunications from Liberty University, where she learned that asking people questions is a vital way of understanding the world. She also has a Masters of divinity from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, where she learned about the ancient beauty of the church and the gift of multiple voices in the shaping of her view of God. Park is attracted to borders, with a love for those spaces where cultures and epochs intersect, where laughter and the profound cross each other, and where people's stories merge into God's epic. Through her role as a pastor she's witnessed people's desire for and struggle with being known to others and to God. And she's grappled with her own questions, including whether her view of God was sturdy enough, global enough, true enough to relate to the complexities of life--with all of its intense disappointments and immense pleasures. Out of those questions came an odyssey with friends and a book, , which captures her journey and the conversations she had about God with nuns, spies and backpackers throughout the Balkans and Middle East.
"Tamara Park signifies all that is good about the Christian pilgrimage. Her honesty and openness in Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem allow for a true spiritual journey in finding God. She is a contemporary pilgrim with a fresh journey to the living, breathing Yahweh."
" Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem is an authentic and breezy, yet poignant, voyage in and toward a more dynamic faith in God captured during Tamara Park's real-life travels to the Holy City from Rome. Between the two famous cities, we follow Tamara and her companions through questions, doubts, hopes and spiritual insights, while they gather the spiritual revelations of an interesting assortment of people from diverse cultures, backgrounds and perspectives along the way. Take this provocative and entertaining journey with Tamara to encounter God and his greatness more deeply, just as she did."
"Mixing historical account with current stories from volatile areas like the Balkans and the fractured Middle East, Tamara Park guides readers on their own introspective journeys. Tamara interviews Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Jewish people, skeptics, laypeople, clergy, Americans, Serbians, Italians, Croats. . . . [This] diverse record of common beliefs about God doesn't leave you once you put it down."
"A master of posing penetrating questions, Tamara Park guides readers through a captivating pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem. With each conversation, God emerges as larger, more compassionate and more astounding, uncovering the vast, infinite grandeur of our Creator. Though the road to Jerusalem ends, the journey toward God continues."
"Tamara Park tucks the reader into her already overstuffed backpack, giving us colorful memories, historical commentary and a spiritual destination. The sacred 'relics' we carry home are a worldview that is larger than ourselves and a reflective look at our own spirituality."
" Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem is an engaging and intelligent exploration of faith that explores culture and history in their most captivating form: the context of love and life relationships. This book masterfully captures the spirit of spiritual pilgrimage and our universal need to seek to know God beyond the scope of our limited understanding of him."
"This book is a gift of love from the children of Abraham who live among the historical roots of Christianity. The author's vulnerability in laying bare her inner struggles while journeying to hear how followers of all three Abrahamic faiths describe God creates a holy space for the reader."
"Tamara Park's account of her forty-day pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem is a fresh twist on an ancient journey as she asked those she met along the way to describe God and then listened--really listened--to the answers. Park's contemplative, lyrical, honest writing was an invitation throughout Sacred Encounters to join her on the journey, right here where I live. "
"Tamara Park takes the reader on a wonderful, descriptive pilgrimage from Rome to Jerusalem where she records her sacred encounters with men and women from the ancient past (Emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena; Savonarola; St. Francis of Assisi; St. Paul; and John) and with modern men and women from all ages and religious backgrounds. From the first rather shallow reflections springs forth, over the course of the journey, a mosaic of deep spiritual encounters that bring her to Jesus--"the Icon of God."
"Tamara takes you on a beautiful and amazing journey through the sights, sounds and smells of her pilgrimage. You feel as though you've packed your bags and are traveling with her. Here is a book that inspires you to love God and people of all nations and faiths. Well worth reading!"
"Sharing her personal story--with all its demons and preconceptions--as a backdrop, Tamara Park gently challenges us to reach beyond our prejudices so that we might approach others with curious and ready-to-listen hearts. I am encouraged to make my own pilgrimage, asking God to guide me to faraway sacred benches. Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem subtly questions our too-often Americanized faith and all its compartmentalized boxes. It dares us to make room for a living, breathing, global God."
"It's tricky to pull off a book about one's own spiritual pilgrimage that will also be enticing and applicable to others, but Tamara Park has done just that. At turns poignant and hilarious, her fantastic writing carries us, her readers, along on her journey. Sacred Encounters from Rome to Jerusalem is both a page-turner and a soul-stirrer."
"This isn't just a book, it's a journey. And with each turn of the page you will find yourself lost in the modern and ancient dilemma in the search for words to describe God. Along the way, you'll be entertained by Tamara's adventures, fascinated by the history and culture of each stop along the way, and intrigued by the sacred encounters. Undoubtedly, you'll find yourself pausing to reflect on your own image of God in ways you never have before."
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