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.