Monday, November 7, 2011

"The Sacred Journey" by Charles Foster

The last book in “The Ancient Practices” series is a wonderful collection of musings and meditations about that itch that we all have—the itch to wander. For some—those who look to “Christian” books as a source of truth and instruction to be absorbed—this book will be a problem. The theology here is speculative. It is instructive and brilliant in places, but isn’t really given in the spirit of unquestionable revelation from on high. It should encourage thought, invite us to stretch outside our comfort zone, and dare us to think about what is lacking in our comfortable, static lives.

Foster claims that the essence of humanity (as God created it to be) lies in its mobility. It is settlement, that our evil nature is most evident. As a person who is very much in touch with the nomadic spirit, I tend to agree. Some may see this as a defense of religious pilgrimage. It can be read that way; and parts are certainly devoted to the traditional tales of the Middle Ages with their relics and saints and indulgences. However, the tenor of the book is more an argument for the good that journeys are for people of faith. Not modern religious tourism (or even the volunteer missions trip variety) but actual, old fashioned journeys where a place is not visited but dwelt in. The leaving, the hard slog of the journey, the “arrival,” and return all have things to offer in the growth and strengthening of faith.

This book should be read by more people. Not the sort who need to be told how to think, but those who enjoy a mental stretch.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger 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.”


  1. This just made me think of two disconnected ideas that always entrigued me...Psalm 84:5 in New King James "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." and that line from the Polar Express song "Believe"- Destinations are where we begin again. Random, I know.

  2. There are parts of this book that I know some people will find scandalous. I do not agree with everything here-like his exegesis of Cain and Able, for example. That being said there are things here that I love. It really speaks to who I am as a TCK. I think in some ways our family's whole life has been a bit of a pilgrimage.

    Another "disconnected" idea that just came to mind is the way Metallica's song "Wherever I May Roam" expresses part of my life philosophy so well. Don't bother checking it out, I don't think it would be your cup of tea!


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