The Sacred Journey
The Sacred Journey is worth the read
I recently received a book, that is part of the Ancient Practices Series with Thomas Nelson publishing, titled A Sacred Journey. The book is authored by Charles Foster. I have no past experience with Charles Foster; however, the title seemed to resonate with where I have been 0f late. Over the last year, I have found myself on some unique travels. Also, I have been on the edge of moving to far off places like England, Seattle, and New Zealand, over the last year or so. So I have spent plenty of time living and thinking about the life of adventure. This book has given me a whole new appreciate for the theology of pilgrimage. Charles Foster has clearly spent some time wrestling with words like follow, kingdom movement and wandering. As Foster says, Ã¢ÂÂYahweh became a man, he was a homeless vagrant. He walked through Palestine proclaiming that a mysterious kingdom had arrivedÃ¢ÂÂ¦he fascinated the people on the edge of things: the underdogs, the despised. He wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a big hit with the urban establishment.Ã¢ÂÂ My Jesus is often too suburban and safe, to resemble the God I read in the Bible. Once I picked up this book, I couldnt put it down. It reminded me of how much I have grown in love with stuff, become lazy, and find myself suffocating for something real. However, the book did not stop there. Charles Foster challenges his readers to take JesusÃ¢ÂÂs words, Ã¢ÂÂfollow meÃ¢ÂÂ very seriously. The book actively inspires me to exercise my faith, take risks, and enjoy the journey. I highly recommend this book. I will share a few of my favourite quotes. However, you may need to read the book to really understand the context.
- Ã¢ÂÂPilgrimage can give a taste of Christian radicalism. In fact Ã¢ÂÂChristian radicalismÃ¢ÂÂ is a tautology: nothing that is not radical is Christian. That takes some grasping. The road can help us grasp it. A stockbroker on pilgrimage for a week will be able to imagine better what it means to leave everything and follow Jesus. HeÃ¢ÂÂll be on the fringes of places and the fringes of society, and hence in the heart of the kingdom and the company of its elite. For that week heÃ¢ÂÂll be an ally of Abel, not an enemy. Those little tastes of the kingdom can be addictive.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂThe Reformers lost the war against pilgrimage. You canÃ¢ÂÂt root out something so fundamental to human identity. Christians of all denominations and none, and people with nothing other than the compulsion to walk, flock to Taize, Santiago, Rome, and Jerusalem. Their motives are perhaps more mixed, or less well defined, than some of those medieval pilgrims. Many would say that they are going to find Ã¢ÂÂthemselvesÃ¢ÂÂ or Ã¢ÂÂwhat its all aboutÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ¦ Not everyone finds what he is looking for, but everyone finds something that he didnÃ¢ÂÂt have before and that he needs and wants. Pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have. And faith, like muscle, likes being worked.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂI did a trail at my pastorate at Holy Trinity Brompton. Without indicating the source, I wrote down several doze quotations on the subject of pilgrimage culled from most of the main religions. I asked the theologically sophisticated Christian audience to identify the Ã¢ÂÂChristianÃ¢ÂÂ ones. They couldnÃ¢ÂÂt. They were hopeless. When I told them which was which, they were amused and horrified. A rather intense girl had identified a sixth-century Hindu text as, Ã¢ÂÂoozing the spirit of JesusÃ¢ÂÂ (And who am I to say she was wrong?)Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂIf the blood flow through your heart reduces, you have pain. If it stops moving, you die. If water stops moving, it gets foul. This seems to illustrate a general rule.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂThroughout the Bible (with a crucial last-minute twist) God hates cities. He is much easier to find in the wilderness. He takes the side of the itinerant shepherd against the factory farmer.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂThe best-traveled people, the ones who have seen the most, are the ones who remain the most capable of seeing the world through the eyes of children. ChildrenÃ¢ÂÂs eyes dont have the spiritual cataracts that blir the vision of the worldly-wise. They see color, mystery, and excitement where we see only a parking lot. They are immeasurably richer than we are.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂThe gospels smell of the road as The Odyssey smells of the sea.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂPilgrimages do things. The travels of Abraham inked in the covenant and laid the foundations of a nation; the exodus transformed a people and won a land; the Baptist girl at my dinner got a husband, was healed of hay fever, and became a Jesus Freak. Then came the Sermon on the Mount, which is all about the people on the edges Ã¢ÂÂ the sort of people you meet, eat with, walk with, bed down, and become if you walk from town to town, but would never see if you drive along the freeway in your air-conditioned limo. By and large the Sermon on the Mount is utterly irrelevant to most modern churches. Our lives, our business, and our mission strategies are constructed very specifically according to precisely the principles so clearly denounced by Jesus. If we had been running his campaign, weÃ¢ÂÂd have thrown money not at lepers, but at management consultants and lobbyistsÃ¢ÂÂ¦ And Jesus certainly wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt have been allowed to walk. ItÃ¢ÂÂs dangerous, time-consuming, and sends out all the wrong signals.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂHe loved the road because it honored adn enabled that community. He hated the city because it brutalized and suffocated it. But community itself has been redeemed; relationship has been redeemed. That is the meaning of the new city. ItÃ¢ÂÂs not that true fellowship of the road can somehow manage to exist within the Holy City; there is nowhere else that it can be what it has always really been. And that is the end of all pilgrimage. There is no other end. Ã¢ÂÂThe Spirit and the bride say, Ã¢ÂÂCome.Ã¢ÂÂ(Rev. 22:17)Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂShane Claiborne talks about his Christian upbringing in eastern Tennessee. At evangelistic services, there would be the great call to the front; and every year he and his mates would go forward, singing Ã¢ÂÂJust as I amÃ¢ÂÂ; and each year, he says, they would leave just as they were. Whatever your fastidious theological doubts about penitential pilgrimages, that never happened to someone who had walked from Paris to Rom in winter, losing toes from frostbite on the St. Bernard Pass, carrying a yoke forged from the club heÃ¢ÂÂs used to beat his wife to death.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂWe see the same syndrome again and again in conservative religion. The greater the evidence against its assertions, the greater the zeal with which they are preached, the greater the consequent isolation from the rest of the world, and the greater ease with which the cult members can be protected against the corrupting power of alternative worldviews.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂThe early Christian Celts spoke about Ã¢ÂÂthin placesÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ places where worlds (I would prefer to say Ã¢ÂÂdimensionsÃ¢ÂÂ) were particularly close to each other. Places where, if you were quiet enough, you could hear the murmurings of God.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂGo. DonÃ¢ÂÂt take much. DonÃ¢ÂÂt worry too much about preparing. The journey itself will prepare you for whatever you need to be prepared for.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂHabitual tourists may be reading this and feeling left out. Good. Sorry, but what you do isnÃ¢ÂÂt what weÃ¢ÂÂre talking about here. A religious tourist in the holy sites is an invulnerable pilgrim. An invulnerable pilgrim is an oxymoronic creature, like a four-legged biped. Certainly pilgrims can read guidebooks, see the sights, and tick boxes on clipboards; but tourists cant get new eyes while remaining tourists.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs not just pilgrims who make a pilgrimage: itÃ¢ÂÂs pilgrims different from you. A pilgrimage is a journey to the ultimate otherness.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂPilgrimage is a little pocket of nomadism. Many insecure societies notably the Ã¢ÂÂadvancedÃ¢ÂÂ ones that have lost their connections with the land, and therefore fear it and its people, feel threatened. They worry that a little focus on pilgrimage might metastasize dangerously into settled life. They are right to worry.Ã¢ÂÂ
- Ã¢ÂÂThe nomadic people of God, if theyÃ¢ÂÂre on the right road, go from an oasis somewhere in East Africa, Mesopotamia, or the Jungian collective subconscious (depending on your exegetical preferences) through wild and barren places, progressively learning to smile, relate, and serve. And they end up in a city where none of their desert sensibilities are violated, where everything they have learned about self-giving and relationship is used and multiplied and transformed.Ã¢ÂÂ
October 31, 2011
life is a highway
"When Yahweh became a man, he was a homeless vagrant. He walked through Palestine proclaiming that a mysterious kingdom had arrived... He called people to follow him, and that meant walking." (Charles Foster, The Sacred Journey)
The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster is a volume in The Ancient Practices Series from Thomas Nelson. this volume, like the rest of the series, is excellent.
the concept and metaphor of journey is a wonderful way to think about the spiritual life. like a journey, the spiritual life is full of ups and downs, roadblocks, bumps, storms, and times of smooth sailing.
Foster's The Sacred Journey is part theological and spiritual text, part biographical, and part great story telling.
early in the book, in the Preface, Foster states, about the book: "I have tried to articulate a theology of pilgrimage."
The Sacred Journey has received mixed reviews and feedback. it seems to stem from the fact that this book is not your typical conservative evangelical text. in fact, a few of the volumes in The Ancient Practices Series would rub some people the wrong way. this is unforetunate.
The Sacred Journey is well-written and a delight to read. it is defintely worth reading. it will enrich your spiritual jounrney greatly.
August 24, 2011
Is it really about Christ?
"Sacred Journey" is part of the "Ancient Practices Series" and even though I had not read the other titles I was still able to get the main message of this book in the series. This book is about pilgrimage either as an intentional departure from regular life to trek on an actual pilgrimage or as how our very lives can be a pilgrimage if we plan about it. The book includes stories from the writer's many experiences as a pilgrim and also tidbits from the experiences of other pilgrims of other religions. The writing is excellent, the thoughts clear and easy to read.
That said, I did not like the book. I did not like the style, the humor, the sarcasm, the irreverence, nor the free flowing mix of criticism of Christianity and adulation of pagananism. I found it very unpalatable at times. I found it downright sacrilegious at other times. I found it almost anti-Christian at still other times. I must admit that by the end of the book I was quite annoyed with the implied superiority that I believed was coming through his words. It struck me as interesting that his last chapter dealt with that exact comment from one of his friends.
Well, as we all know everyone has a different perception point. Others have read this book and come out of the experience with a deeper spiritual understanding. So this is my take on this book, you may want to deciced for your self
June 10, 2011
For the pilgrim in us all
"The Sacred Journey" by Charles Foster, is a book intended for those who yearn for pilgrimage, a retreat from the mundane, a journey into the spiritual that will forever change your outlook on life.
The first few chapters into the book were difficult to keep reading but my curiousity kept me turning the pages. I discovered within my own self, the desire to embark on a pilgrimage of my own and this book gives an interesting viewpoint on how to correctly go about a true pilgrimage instead of a mere site seeing tour of a spiritual attraction that the pilgrim hopes to find spiritual revelation from.
This book offers the reader insight into the psyche of the individual who yearns for a true connection with the God who has made him. Although a harder read than I would have liked, this book definately takes the reader into a place of contemplation into their own world of discovering their relationship with God. For those of us who yearn for something more, perhaps a deeper connection and a truer understanding of ourselves, I would recommend this book to read.
April 20, 2011