The Sacred Journey (book review)
As part of the Ancient Practices series edited by Phyllis Tickle, The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster explores the practice of pilgrimage. While Foster’s words are primarily directed to a Christian audience, his study covers a broad range of faith and cultural understandings of pilgrims and their journeys. Throughout the book, Foster tackles the intrusion of Gnostic thought into the church – manifested in the fear or dismissal of the physical and existential in favor of the transcendent and metaphysical – by encouraging followers of Christ to take actual, physical, and tangible journeys as a practice of their faith.
Foster’s writing is, in some sense, both sacred and profane. At certain points, I found myself asking – “did he really just say that?” He makes totalizing claims such as “God hates cities” (43); he pokes fun at tourists, church fathers, and reformers. Satisfying doctrinal sensibilities is not Foster’s goal, and the book is more enjoyable, readable, and helpful because of it. I appreciated his reflections on the reality of Christ’s call to “follow me” or, in Foster’s rewording, “come take a walk with me.” While at times jarring, Foster also demonstrates a keen awareness of the sacred nature of the journey, regardless of how messy or confusing it may be.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program.