Jun 16, 2011

The Sacred Journey Book Review

The Sacred Journey
By Charles Foster
Thomas Nelson Publishers

I knew going into it that The Sacred Journey would be a tough read, but I didn’t know it would be so wonderful.  Foster does a great job of explaining Pilgrimage, bringing it out of antiquity and making it relevant in our modern world.
Foster's theory of Pilgrimage is based on the premise that Yahweh God was a Pilgrim God, "loudly and unequivocally on the side of the nomads."  In whatever guise he appeared, he was a traveler "..and He has an alarmingly clear preference for people who can't keep still." 
God's values and character are demonstrated in a nomad's life in the following ways:
  • Life on the edges
  • Indiscriminate and costly hospitality
  • Solidarity with the marginalized
  • Intimate relationships with humans and the environment
  • A new view at every step
  • The loosest possible hold on possessions

Pilgrimage is not just wandering, it's wandering after God, it's "a restoration of broken things and a making of new things."  Pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have.  "When men stop wandering, it all goes wrong," claims Foster, "That is what the story of Sodom is about..... we are bound to places and possessions, and befouled with all the moral detritus that comes with them."  Foster is tough on Christians caught up in living The American Dream.   "You become morbidly attached to your little slice and consumed with the desire to assert your title to it.  It is not surprising that you become unhappy, cynical, jaded and fat.  Get up, get out."
The Sacred Journey is a powerful read.  I am starting it all over again.  It's full of Biblical examples and foundations.  It is controversial.  It is explosive.  You may not agree with all of it.  You may mourn that your life has gotten so far off-track.   
God, Foster reminds us, "wasn't a big hit with the urban establishment" and I suspect there is a lot of Christian establishment today that isn't fond of Foster's viewpoint.  But I love it.  I am a pilgrim at heart, always most attracted to the maps in the Bible. 
Foster concludes, "Salvation is by grace,, not by pilgrimage.  But pilgrimages can help to create the conditions in which grace can work best."  And he reminds us of Jesus' first words to his disciples:  "Follow me."
Full disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for the purpose of review.   The opinions and comments are my own, honest and valid. 


tweedpipe said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments on the book. They mean a lot.
All best wishes on the road.
Charles (Foster)

Poof said...

I can't tell you how much I love your book. I mostly quoted you instead of giving my thoughts, but your book has me thinking in so many ways. I think you're right on the mark and I'm honored you commented here. Thanks!