Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

Foster warns in the preface of Sacred Journey that we will not agree with everything he writes. He was very correct in that assumption. While I found myself agreeing with certain ideas, others were completely lost on me. Part of that is because I went into this book expecting the idea of a journey to be metaphorical and not realistic. Foster is not speaking of a metaphorical pilgrimage but an actual pilgrimage, an actual walk to Jerusalem.

All throughout the book he quotes individuals who actually set out on foot on a journey or pilgrimage to find something. Different people are looking for different things. For the most part, they are discovering the true meaning of their lives and learning to appreciate the things around them. He explains on page 31, “The pilgrim will be given new eyes for the suffering. He’ll see a limp in a passerby that he wouldn’t have seen on a New York street, and will find that he’s bandaged the bleeding heel of Jesus.”

While I totally agree that this is the way to see the world, I don’t think a literal pilgrimage is necessary. I think a mission trip to another city or even within one’s own city can open a person’s eyes in the same way.

No where does Foster talk about missions, he merely focuses on walking. He talks a lot about walking and the advantages thereof. His argument being that God wanted us to walk which is why the Israelites walked in the desert. I could easily argue that the Israelites walked because cars had not yet been invented. But, alas, I digress.

Foster makes many interesting points that are quite thought provoking. And while, the text itself is written on a higher level than the average book that I would read, I found it challenging to grapple with his complex thought process.

A reader looking for a book to challenge his reasoning and force him to really contemplate the writing will enjoy this book. One must think while reading this book and not merely read it for enjoyment. This book is work! And unless you are interested in the history of pilgrimage as well as the reasons to go on a pilgrimage, you might also find it a bit boring.

I did not enjoy this book, and found myself having to really work to finish it.