Friday, June 3, 2016

Are You A Pilgrim?

Pilgrims take journeys, as described in the first of my faith-ish reads from the last couple of weeks. But journeys can be internal or external. They can lead to secrets outside the self, but are best if they lead the self to secrets of its own. And maybe books are the same. Maybe each book read is a pilgrimage, with a destination that inspires, enlivens, saddens, teaches, or more. These four books all involve faith and life's journeys, and they're all different. But are you a pilgrim when you read?

Starting with The Pilgrim Journey by James Harpur, this non-fiction book is filled with well-researched details of history, societies, and the implications of changing faith and beliefs. The history of icons and relics weaves into the tale, with saints and sinners, pilgrims and vacationers tracing and recording their different paths. I'm not a great reader of non-fiction, but this book surprised, intrigued and even entertained me, as well as informing me. Enjoy with some elegant complex four-star coffee.

Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge is another non-fiction book, this one more deliberately aimed at Christian readers. But it's not a conventional worship-and-workshop type book. Rather it invites readers to re-read the gospel accounts in search of a real human being, with real emotions, who happens to be God made man. God being playful? Jesus being cunning? Not quite the pictures we're accustomed to, and if one chapter pushes you away, just read the next. Enjoy this easy-reading and cool conversation with some bright easy-drinking two-star coffee.

But there are pilgrims in fiction too; pilgrims whose journeys lead them to find themselves; pilgrims who travel to foreign lands, or fight in foreign wars; even pilgrims who sacrifice themselves for the lives of others.

Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton invites readers into the lives of Native Americans and white invaders at the time of the revolutionary war. The story follows a woman whose love might be forbidden, a man whose identity betrays him, a warrior who knows true forgiveness, and another who can't forgive himself. It's a tale of complex relationships, told with honest hope, and filled with great description, unobtrusive faith, and well-researched history. Enjoy with some dark strong five-star coffee, but add cream--there's light at the end.

Revival by Stephen King, of course, is not a Christian novel, but its protagonist is surely a pilgrim in search of meaning to life, or hope. Plus there's a fallen, or falling pastor at its heart - a man on his own pilgrimage perhaps after disaster tears his life apart. Its a book that raises intriguing questions, offers worrying insights, and invites the reader to think... thus making the reading of it a genuine pilgrimage I guess. Definitely dark, yet told with a surprisingly light touch, evoking the simplicity and love of genuine family life and sweet coming of age - enjoy with some dark five-star coffee - it's classic Stephen King, on top of his form.

So, are you a pilgrim - in faith, in travels, in reading...?

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