Christian Encounters: Saint Francis by Robert West is a look at the saint best known for his love of animals. West retells the well-known story of how the son of a wealthy merchant in the small Italian town of Assisi went from a party animal to the founder of a monastic order known for its poverty. Francis was raised with all of the comforts of wealth and enjoyed lavishing gifts on his friends, but when God touched his heart, he became deeply changed and grew to hate his former pleasures. Francis' order of monks was known for the requirement to donate all possessions upon entrance, and for their desire to live without any possessions. West brings to life the tumultuous time Francis lived during, with wars between cities, troubles in the Church, and Crusades; he helps readers to understand how Francis fit into this time period, as well as how he impacted it. While Francis has become well known for his affinity to animals, West brings other less known information to readers, about his miracles, stigmata (the first in Church history), and his ecstatic reveries that occasionally sent him running through the snow clothed only in a tunic. West helps bring to light this famous saint and give readers fresh perspective on his life.
most of the world knows Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone as Saint Francis of Assisi. he is the patron saint of animals and the environment; Saint Francis was green long before the World Wildlife Federation and Al Gore. Francis of Assisi was also a Catholic Deacon and preahcer, and he founded the Order of Friars Minor, better known as the Franciscans.Robert West is the author of Christian Encounters: SAINT FRANCIS, from a series published my Thomas Nelson. these books are great. this one, does not disappoint.Saint Francis is a hero of the Christian faith. West weaves his story from Assisi, Italy to Sainthood beautifully. Francis was born rich. however, chose to live a life of poverty and prayer to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. he took his faith literally and figuratively in all areas of his life after a transforming influence of serious illness. Francis was an excellent example of a servant of God. he gave all of his possesions to the poor and lived a life devoted to Scripture and God's purposes. this is a wonderful book. i highly reccommend reading it. in fact, i highly recommend reading any of the texts in this series. they're well worth it. these books tell the stories of characters and legends in the Christian faith. we can learn and grow from their stories and experiences.*Full Disclosure: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson as apart of "Book Sneeze." They give free books to bloggers for honest reviews.*
The book, Saint Francis by Robert West is a quick and easy read. It is a high level view of the man's life with moments where the reader dives in for a little detail and then back to the stratosphere again for a while. It is not a bad book. Unfortunately it is hard to call it a good book. Part of the Christian Encounters series being published by Thomas Nelson it is a low-cost paperback with fairly flimsy glue binding that threatened to come apart as I was reading it. What saves the book is the subject matter. With so much source material and additional biographical detail already written on Saint Francis it is hard to create a completely awful text. The biggest failing in the book is the author's tendancy to speculate and hypothesize about what "may have happened' and what 'could have occured' etc. It is no exageration to suggest that nearly every page of the book has some form of ungrounded, unreferenced speculation. For a biography this is simply unacceptable and makes one feel that the book is partly fictional. At the end of the day though it has some worthy gems that the reader will appreciate but it is not a great book. I suggest if you have read nothing about Saint Francis before the least this book will do for you is offer some bibliographic direction to some other, truly outstanding works already published and referenced by West as source material. I was provided a copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson. If you have a blog and like to read/review books check out their program.
Written by Robert West, this small biography is a convenient, comfortable, and engaging introduction to the life of the renowned Saint Francis of Assisi. Remaining true to history, West paints a picture of an imperfect man with strong conviction and childlike faith. Towards the beginning of his work, West sets the stage with many interesting historical insights- on the culture, architecture, economy, and church polity of Italy in the 12th and 13th centuries AD. Drawing from contemporaries of Francis and Francis' own work, as well as some of the hagiographic legend, West explores the transformation of Francis from an extravagant party boy into a man devoted to God and seeking holiness. West does his fair share of speculation on a lot of details of Francis' life- there are many instances in which the reader is invited to read between the lines, as it were. I do not find this to be a negative thing, as long as such speculation is done tastefully and within the bounds of what would be most likely, historically. I believe West manages to do this fairly well. The side-stories and short expeditions into what Francis may have done do not distract from the main narrative; in my opinion, they add a depth and richness to it that is missing in more stuffy tomes. I do wish that West had incorporated more of Francis' own writings, but one can't have everything.As for the physical book itself- it is comfortable to hold, and easy to read. Its small size makes it ideal for casual reading.Overall, I enjoyed this book and learned several new things. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Francis, or church history in general.Disclaimer: I received this book for free as a member of Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions expressed here are my own.
St. Francis by Robert West is a brief but sufficient study in the life of one of the medieval church's most unusual and zealous men. The book traces Francis' life from his wild and prodigal youth, through his chrysalis-like transformation as he embraces poverty, and on to his years as the leader of a growing order of ascetics. Robert West draws from several early biographies and even legends to try to introduce Francis in a sympathetic, yet human, light.I found the book to be thought-provoking, disheartening, and inspiring. How could it be all of these? It was thought-provoking because the reader sometimes finds himself trying to discern the true Francis through the foggy halo of church history.It was disheartening because the book is littered with evidence that Francis never encountered grace, but spent his days trying desperately to add penance, alms-giving, flagellations, and ridiculous asceticism to his spiritual account.It was inspiring because this man, who may never have even encountered the grace of God, was willing to endure so much self-inflicted torture in hopes of gaining God's favor. How much more should those who do know God's grace live for Him?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 Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.