Mar 4, 2011

Review of The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

The practice of pilgrimage has almost disappeared from the western Christian culture. Charles Foster in The Sacred Journey is inviting us to remember the practice of pilgrimage and to embark on them once more. Pilgrimages died out around the time of the Reformation because they were being condemned as fruitless and not commanded by the Bible. Foster argues that we lost a lot when we stopped going on pilgrimages. He  believes that the practice of pilgrimage helps remember that we are constantly on a journey and the actual act of traveling somewhere helps us understand that better. While he acknowledges that we are all on a metaphorical Christian pilgrimage in this life, going somewhere helps us to see things in new ways and connect to God in ways that staying at home cannot bring us closer to God. Pilgrimage changes the pilgrims and can open their eyes to see God, life, and their faith in a deeper more real way.

This book was helpful in many ways, and in others I am not sure what to think. Foster rightly brings us back to a practices that, while not commanded in the Bible, is something that has benefitted Christians for centuries. His arguments for Christian pilgrimage are compelling, but he also reaches into the writings and traditions of other religions to discuss what a pilgrimage is and why we should practice it. This is probably the one thing that will keep most readers from reading it. I personally was not offended by it, since other religions practice and write about pilgrimage far more that Christians do, but I did not think that it was alway necessary to delve into other religions' practices. Foster makes a compelling argument for Christian pilgrimage, but at times seems to turn too much to the writings of other religions. It's worth a read if you are interested in pilgrimage as a practice, but be warned that you will encounter references and quotes from people and scripture outside of Christianity.

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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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