A few months ago I read a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi that I thought was just okay. I find Francis to be one of the more dynamic, lovable, and challenging historical figures for the church today and, this weekend, finished up another book about his life and influence.
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale by Ian Morgan Cron offers fresh perspective on the legacy of Saint Francis for the church today. Written as a novel, Cron traces the heartbeat of the Franciscan tradition through a fictional account of the crisis-induced Italian pilgrimage of an evangelical pastor. The main character, Chase, explores the depth of the Catholic Franciscan tradition (which, as a conservative evangelical, he is utterly ignorant about) through interactions with a quirky and rag-tag group of characters. Through this pilgrimage, Chase gains new insight into his faith and his vision for the church.
I enjoyed this book’s approach to engaging evangelical Christianity (particularly in its more sectarian forms) with the wider church (denominationally and historically). The writing reminded me of Patrick Lencioni’s leadership fables in that the author’s points are translated into a narrative medium which provides a wider perspective on the overall message yet also can, at times, feel a bit forced and awkward. Overall, I appreciated the work as a middle ground between a biography on Saint Francis and a monograph on Franciscan spirituality.