The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series) Info

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Reviews for The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series):

4

Jul 14, 2016

Every so often you come across a book that provides the proverbial yet necessary slap across the face, showing you things that were always there but were not put together or were otherwise missed. In the end, you might not agree with everything said in the book, but you walk away thankful to have been challenged and to see things a bit differently.

So it was for me in reading The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster. The book is part (really, the conclusion) of The Ancient Practices Series, a series Every so often you come across a book that provides the proverbial yet necessary slap across the face, showing you things that were always there but were not put together or were otherwise missed. In the end, you might not agree with everything said in the book, but you walk away thankful to have been challenged and to see things a bit differently.

So it was for me in reading The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster. The book is part (really, the conclusion) of The Ancient Practices Series, a series of seven books published by Thomas Nelson regarding seven practices prevalent in early forms of Christianity (fixed prayer, sabbath, fasting, tithing, sacred meal, liturgical year, sacred journey). To this end the book is supposed to discuss the ancient practice of pilgrimage. The subject gets discussed, and in context, but this book is far more than that.

This book is a boldly written attempt to challenge the reader to re-think everything he or she has ever thought regarding the nature of God, physicality and spirituality, and the sacred in the world, as they all relate to pilgrimage. One will read the book and perhaps mostly agree or not agree much at all, but the author's forcefulness, bluntness, and other stylistic forms demand some kind of visceral reaction. The book is quite well-written and engaging throughout.

The author is really making two arguments within the book. One involves a theology of pilgrimage, and the other involves pilgrimage itself. Both have merits but end up getting weighed down by their extremism.

The theology of pilgrimage is quite compelling. He returns to Cain and Abel and uses the story as a means of understanding a tension throughout the rest of the story-- Cain as the farmer, the settled, the one who will found the first city; Abel the shepherd, the nomad. The shepherd is accepted; the farmer is not; the farmer kills the shepherd; in his punishment and isolation the farmer and his descendants begin what we deem civilization. Abram is then called to wander as a nomad; the Israelites will leave Egypt and be led to YHWH's presence in the wilderness, the "God of the nomads" among nomads. Even in the land they are to observe the Feast of Booths, living in temporary tents.

Jesus goes on pilgrimage in utero to Bethlehem and then immediately after His birth to Egypt and back. To whom is the message of His birth given by angels but to shepherds? Jesus does not grow up in the city Jerusalem but in nowhere Nazareth, outside the city, on the margins of civilization. John, His compatriot, exemplifies the outcast, living in the desert, eating honey and locusts, condemning aspects of the establishment. His ministry begins in the wilderness and is a nomadic ministry; His call is to "follow Him." "Go." "Walk." He calls people like James, John, and Matthew to just get up and follow Him, and they do so immediately, leaving everything.

One can find other examples-- Nimrod's cities (Assur and Babylon) and Sodom and their negative associations; Jacob, Moses, David as shepherds and thus nomads; Israel eating the Passover with the expectation of going on a journey. Foster is certainly on to something, much to the chagrin of all who find comfort in civilization. God, in Scripture, most certainly seems to be a God on the move. How many times have we heard the exhortations to go and follow Jesus, to be sojourners and exiles, but never really stopped to think what that would mean in literal, physical terms?

Foster's other argument, often unhelpfully intertwined with the theology of pilgrimage, involves pilgrimage itself. He tries to have his cake and eat it too-- to merge scientific consensus about human origins with a thoroughgoing seriousness about the Biblical text-- to suggest that humans are designed for nomadism. In this analysis, man began being on the move from his east African origins. Even when he lives in civilization he has the urge to get up and go out-- out to nature, out on the road trip, etc. He traces this impulse through the major religions of the world-- pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Jews (and Christians, and Muslims), "holy places" for Christians, the Hajj of Muslims, pilgrimages to holy sites for Hindus and Buddhists-- and speaks of how to find the sacred within the world. As the Cain vs. Abel story is the backdrop for the theology of pilgrimage, so gnosticism vs. orthodoxy becomes the backdrop for the value of pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is an experience; it breaks down barriers; it is inescapably physical, and leads to a level of dependence on others and appreciation for the sacred in the physical.

Foster's approach with these arguments can certainly lead down the road to complete ecumenism and an acceptance of the physical to the extent of idolatry. Nevertheless, they are arguments that must be taken seriously.

A major difficulty with the presentation of the arguments is its extremism. Foster attempts to come to grips with the presentation of the church as the New Jerusalem in Revelation, but misses what could be perhaps one of the most compelling points about the Biblical presentation of life in his otherwise distaste for what civilization has done to man. It's not as simple as "civilization vs. barbarism," or "nomadism vs. settled life." Yes, there are paradigmatically bad cities-- Sodom, Babylon-- but there is always Jerusalem, the Zion, where the Nomadic YHWH causes His name to dwell. Jesus is raised in Jerusalem; He ascends from Jerusalem; the first proclamation of the message of the Kingdom is in Jerusalem. While the Apostles and others go out and wander, preaching the Gospel, they primarily do so in cities. And some cease from wandering-- Philip goes to Samaria, along the Mediterranean coast, but then stays put in Caesarea. In terms of God and the Temple in Jerusalem, Foster attempts to put too much on David and Solomon's enthusiasm and misses the point-- nomadism is not the panacea it's made out to be. For every example Foster gives of people being forced to "civilize" and give up the nomadic life, there are plenty of other examples of nomadic peoples who voluntarily gave up nomadism for settled life-- the Arameans in Syria, the Chaldeans in Babylon, the Aryans in India, the Mongols in south Asia, let alone the Israelites themselves in Canaan. Abraham is called on to wander but was promised land and thus stability; the Israelites wandered but looked forward to settled life in Canaan. Likewise, the Bible does not approve of nomadism for nomadism's sake-- Jacob the shepherd is preferred to Esau the hunter. Furthermore, pilgrimage isn't much of a pilgrimage without having a place from which to depart, a place toward which one is going, and places along the way. And so we have the paradigm: leaving to become a sojourner in order to obtain settlement. Thus it was with Adam, Cain, and Abel; so with Abraham; indeed with Jesus; and, clearly, with the Christian, for we are sojourners in this world in order to obtain our place in the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven in the next. We are pilgrims heading for Zion, and much can be learned and gained in that journey.

The Sacred Journey is a necessary tonic for civilization and the insistent justification of civilization that permeates our culture. Foster shows that one cannot remove the journey, not just spiritually but also physically, from the story of Scripture; he also makes the best possible case that can be made for the physical practice of pilgrimage, to just get up and go. His warnings against gnosticism-- the tendency to over-spiritualize and under-physicalize many aspects of faith-- is good to heed. Nevertheless, civilization is not inherently evil; it can be evil, but all of this is rather academic if humans never developed civilization and remained purely nomadic. Just as one cannot excise the nomad and the pilgrim from Scripture, so also one cannot excise Jerusalem from it either. We are supposed to understand ourselves as wanderers and sojourners now, and we should hesitate to make that wandering and sojourning merely spiritual. Nevertheless, we look forward to wandering to a point, and making our pilgrimage to a destination-- the New Jerusalem, Zion, the assembled collective of those who are God's, in His presence forever in the resurrection. Yes, life is what we learn on that journey, and Foster outlines the many excellent reasons to experience that journey to its full, but as with the pilgrimage, so with life-- whatever transformation we have during the journey, we are heading somewhere. And that somewhere is not another journey. The journey is only the means to the glorious End.

*--book received as part of an early review program ...more
1

Apr 14, 2010


I was excited to read Foster's idea on pilgrimage. It's not a topic about which I've studied much, and his credentials seemed sound. However, I never made it through the third chapter. I believe Foster's interpretation of scripture to be so misguided that I am actually surprised that Thomas Nelson agreed to publish it as a Christian spiritual growth title.

In an effort to make his point, Foster defends pilgrimage in the first chapter not with Biblical references, but by showing how important it
I was excited to read Foster's idea on pilgrimage. It's not a topic about which I've studied much, and his credentials seemed sound. However, I never made it through the third chapter. I believe Foster's interpretation of scripture to be so misguided that I am actually surprised that Thomas Nelson agreed to publish it as a “Christian spiritual growth” title.

In an effort to make his point, Foster defends pilgrimage in the first chapter not with Biblical references, but by showing how important it is to other religions, using Islam and Hindu in his defense. He also appears to ignore scriptures contradictory to his belief. For instance, he states, “And [God:] has an alarmingly clear preference for people who can't keep still,” while not reconciling that belief with Ps. 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Foster also starts to rant about the evils of cities – how they are man's abandonment of our original role as nomadic people. But, once again, he chooses to ignore contradictory aspects of Scripture, such as the New Jerusalem (which will be called God's city), or the fact that Jesus grew up in one place, not as a nomad. Foster does not attempt to reconcile these verses with his theory, he simply doesn't address them.

I could not read further when, on page 53, Foster admits that his belief is based on his experience, not necessarily a Biblical revelation. It does not appear that Foster wrote a book about God's view of pilgrimage, but rather he used bits of the Bible to justify his own thoughts about it. ...more
3

Mar 31, 2011

My Opinion:

This is the first book on pilgrimage that I've ever read. Charles Foster had me laughing and thinking throughout this whole book. It took me a long time to finish because it made me aware of myself and my beliefs. Something that no book has ever done.

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster is well written. I was not bored with this book in fact the opposite is true. His writing style is bold and blunt, something you might need to keep an open mind about. This book is about the journey My Opinion:

This is the first book on pilgrimage that I've ever read. Charles Foster had me laughing and thinking throughout this whole book. It took me a long time to finish because it made me aware of myself and my beliefs. Something that no book has ever done.

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster is well written. I was not bored with this book in fact the opposite is true. His writing style is bold and blunt, something you might need to keep an open mind about. This book is about the journey of man, religion and pilgrimage. He writes throughout the book about different belief systems and how they involve pilgrimage. He shares his own personal experiences with pilgrimage and explains his ideas about the importance of going on pilgrimage.

However, I found it a bit confusing and hard to follow at times, but that I think had a lot to do with me and not the book itself. This topic is not something I would think would be easy to explain or discuss in a book. This being the seventh in the series of books. This is a book that makes you think. With that being said, I say read this book and then read it again. Maybe use the suggested reading in the book for a better understanding of pilgrimage. By reading this book Charles Foster has made me want to be more aware and understand what pilgrimage is all about.
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4

Apr 01, 2011

I received this book from book sneeze and finished it this morning so I thought I would post my review .

The Sacred Journey By Charles Foster

This book is both inspirational and Motivational , it made me really want to get out and explore my environment . I'm not a big traveler but while reading I could feel the passion the writer has for his travels . He shares with you all the wonderful experiences he has had that have brought him spiritual fulfillment and joy . I would recommend this book to I received this book from book sneeze and finished it this morning so I thought I would post my review .

The Sacred Journey By Charles Foster

This book is both inspirational and Motivational , it made me really want to get out and explore my environment . I'm not a big traveler but while reading I could feel the passion the writer has for his travels . He shares with you all the wonderful experiences he has had that have brought him spiritual fulfillment and joy . I would recommend this book to any traveler who is maybe starting out on there own sacred Journey as I'm sure they will find it a fascinating read and very spiritually uplifting . as I said I am not a big traveler but on my walks around the neighbourhood I will be able to take with me some of the truths I learned in the sacred Journey .

thanks for reading my review :)

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4

Jun 14, 2011

Exploring physical journeys and pilgrimages as well as life-learning or spiritual journeys/pilgrimages is an interesting concept to say the least. I did enjoy reading The Sacred Journey and getting a feel of Dr. Foster's concepts as they pertain to his life, therefore, got the wheels turning in the attic as to what journeys/pilgrimages I have been on and ones I want to pursue. I would say that reading Dr. Foster's stories and concepts as well as historical facts put me in an introspective Exploring physical journeys and pilgrimages as well as life-learning or spiritual journeys/pilgrimages is an interesting concept to say the least. I did enjoy reading The Sacred Journey and getting a feel of Dr. Foster's concepts as they pertain to his life, therefore, got the wheels turning in the attic as to what journeys/pilgrimages I have been on and ones I want to pursue. I would say that reading Dr. Foster's stories and concepts as well as historical facts put me in an introspective position to explore my own spiritual and human goals that I need to address in order to continue on this earthly journey along (maybe not cohesively) with my spiritual journey. I recommend if only for the amazing tidbits of history. ...more
2

Mar 07, 2015

I didn't buy most of the author's idea about pilgrimage. The one thing I bought was quickly apologized as corny: just follow your heart.

For me life is pilgrimage. Every single day is a road we have to take with pilgrim's attitude, otherwise we will miss that day's worth of wisdom.

I felt that the author was too scared to be labeled (just like most Christians, that's why too many people are crowding the main road) liberal, or pantheist, or gnostic (ha!). Whatever labels slapped on our foreheads I didn't buy most of the author's idea about pilgrimage. The one thing I bought was quickly apologized as corny: just follow your heart.

For me life is pilgrimage. Every single day is a road we have to take with pilgrim's attitude, otherwise we will miss that day's worth of wisdom.

I felt that the author was too scared to be labeled (just like most Christians, that's why too many people are crowding the main road) liberal, or pantheist, or gnostic (ha!). Whatever labels slapped on our foreheads don't change who we really are. So, just follow your heart.

One suggestion I would like to propose to Mr. Foster, leave your credit card at home in your next pilgrimage trip.

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5

Feb 19, 2011

Foster's prose is remarkably beautiful and reminds me a bit of a Donald Miller without the humor. At times, I would find myself thinking, "I'm not sure that's true, but it sure sounds good the way he says it!" This book was a wonderful introduction to the discipline of pilgrimage and simply reading it was its own spiritual reward.
5

Apr 17, 2013

Lots of good ideas around pilgrimages, lots of anti-gnosticism. I will read this book again as I prepare for my own pilgrimage.
5

Apr 22, 2013

good book, very highly pro-pilgrimage, makes one want to do a pilgrimage, even though family and time disallow such a trek
0

Apr 03, 2011

Excellent book for those who wish to think deeply about what it means to live life as a pilgrimage. Well written, thoughtful, engaging.
5

Mar 29, 2014

Thought provoking book, pushes buttons intentionally. Tries to get people moving figuratively and literally.
2

Jan 08, 2014

Great content, but I felt like I had to forcibly plow through the style. By the end of the book I was skimming and I only finished it because we have in-class quizzes.
4

I recently received a book, that is part of the Ancient Practices Series with Thomas Nelson publishing, titled A Sacred Journey. The book is authored by Charles Foster. I have no past experience with ...Full Review
4

"When Yahweh became a man, he was a homeless vagrant. He walked through Palestine proclaiming that a mysterious kingdom had arrived... He called people to follow him, and that meant walking." (Charles ...Full Review
1

"Sacred Journey" is part of the "Ancient Practices Series" and even though I had not read the other titles I was still able to get the main message of this book in the series. This book is about ...Full Review
4

Every so often you come across a book that provides the proverbial yet necessary slap across the face, showing you things that were always there but were not put together or were otherwise missed. In ...Full Review
4

May 03, 2011

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster is another book in the Ancient Practices Series edited by Phyllis Tickle. Ive read several of these books and have really enjoyed themeven the ones Ive had serious disagreements with. Browse my blog for my other reviews related to this series.

The Sacred Journey is the book in the series that deals with pilgrimage. In the book Mr. Foster makes the point that we are either pilgrims or we are not. I would agree with this point, though I think that all ‘The Sacred Journey’ by Charles Foster is another book in the Ancient Practices Series’ edited by Phyllis Tickle. I’ve read several of these books and have really enjoyed them…even the ones I’ve had serious disagreements with. Browse my blog for my other reviews related to this series.

‘The Sacred Journey’ is the book in the series that deals with pilgrimage. In the book Mr. Foster makes the point that we are either pilgrims or we are not. I would agree with this point, though I think that all Christians to one degree or another are indeed pilgrims. I found myself while reading this book wanting to just step out of my house and walk. Reading Mr. Foster’s words gave me the strong desire to travel to Jerusalem to see the land in which the events I read about in Scripture took place, or to visit the great Cathedrals of Europe, or to spend time in a monastery, or even just spend time in an unfamiliar land walking the dusty trails and meeting people from all walks of life who are on a similar journey of faith…Even if our faith may or may not be the same.

Mr. Foster paints a very romantic picture of pilgrimage, though honestly I don’t even think this was his intent. I think his desire was to paint a picture that was both true to the practice, realistic, and beautiful…Not just romantic. I think he succeeded…but there certainly is an inherent beauty within this practice. And it is one that I think has been lost through the centuries. I understand why, as humans have a tendency to place the actual practices in the place of God and make our faith about the things we do, as opposed to allowing those things or practices lead us to the God we are to be drawing closer to. That is what everything we do on our journey of faith is supposed to do. If not, it is pointless.

‘The Sacred Journey’ is not particularly a Christian book, nor do I think it was meant to be. This will bother some Christians…Though it shouldn’t take away from what I believe is the beauty of this practice. Whether I agree on every theological point with Mr. Foster is not important. It is okay to learn from those we don’t totally agree with, even if they may be of another faith…Though I do believe Charles Foster would describe himself as a Christian. I tend to think though, were I to sit down over coffee with Mr. Foster, we would have several disagreements…and this is okay.

At the end of the day, I would recommend this book. Many people will not like it. Most folks in my religious tradition would say that pilgrimage is pointless, and the pilgrimage that matters is simply our journey of faith and how we live as Christians as aliens within the world. I would say they may be right to a certain degree, still though, I think much can be learned from laying down all that we surround ourselves with in our daily lives and forsaking all of the day to day nonsense that we place so much importance on, and re-centering ourselves around Christ and those things He has called us to do and reconnecting with Him on a very organic level. I think setting out away from our day to day lives may help us see Him in all of creation, and in others, in a fresh way. This may not be needed for you. But for some, I think real benefits could be gained and we may just see ourselves and God in a whole new way. Away from all of our stuff, or our busyness, we may just draw closer to Him as we see that ultimately it is all about Him…not us. This can be hard to see when we are so caught up in our own little lives.

This book is not for everyone, but it may just be for you. It may certainly be worth a read…I for one am glad I read it. ...more
2

Feb 16, 2016


Charles Foster, The Sacred Journey (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Press, 2010), 230 pages including notes, an index and a study guide.

For much of the Christian era, going on a pilgrimage was seen as a valid spiritual practice (at least for a small percent of the faithful). Christians would head to the Holy Lands, even after the Islamic invasion. Later, as Jerusalem became a more difficult destination, Christians would go to Rome or to Santiago or other places in Europe that were important to the
Charles Foster, The Sacred Journey (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Press, 2010), 230 pages including notes, an index and a study guide.

For much of the Christian era, going on a pilgrimage was seen as a valid spiritual practice (at least for a small percent of the faithful). Christians would head to the Holy Lands, even after the Islamic invasion. Later, as Jerusalem became a more difficult destination, Christians would go to Rome or to Santiago or other places in Europe that were important to the faith, often to places where relics of the saints were found. During the Reformation, Protestants discouraged this practice, thinking it silly for Christians to seek out relics or travel to holy sites where they felt they could be closer to God. Yet, as Foster points out, human beings were created to walk and individual encounters with God seem to occur most often when we are less settled. Furthermore, when God summons, it’s often a call for us to move or go somewhere (think of Abram).

Foster encourages Protestants to reconsider pilgrimage as a spiritual practice. He suggests that pilgrimages are a way to counter the ancient heresy of Gnosticism which is alive and well in our churches today. The Gnostics attempt to separate the body (which they see as corrupt) from the spirit (which they see as more godly). The struggles of a pilgrim merge together the body and spirit as one meets the challenges of the road. Another benefit of the pilgrim is to look at the world in a fresh and new way (with child-like eyes) which is easier when we are out of our comfort zones. A third benefit of a pilgrimage is the community that one finds on the road. Without the comforts of home, pilgrims are no longer divided by social castes and friendships abound as they learn to depend upon each other.

Although Foster writes from a Protestant Christian perspective, he draws from the larger Christian context as well as from other religious traditions. By looking at other traditions, we see the universal need for human beings to reach out and search for meaning beyond ourselves. Foster has many strong opinions that many Christians may find challenging if not offensive. Early on he suggests there is a need for a new awakening and in which we should get rid of language that carries to much baggage, including the words “God†(Foster prefers names like “Holy One,†“Blessed be He†or even the Hebrew “Elohimâ€Â) and “Christian†(after all, the faith was first known as “The Wayâ€Â). Foster also makes some bold claims such as suggesting that “religion, like everything else, goes bad when imported into town†and that “Christianity is an Eastern religion that has had the misfortune to be particularly popular in the West.†Such hyperbole seems shocking, but they also encourage the reader to think and consider Foster’s point of view.

Personally, I found a lot to ponder within these pages and recommend this book, especially to those who are interested in exploring different spiritual practices. As a way of disclosure, acknowledge I was given a copy of the book to review. Furthermore, I began reading this book with a certain presupposition toward pilgrimages. A recent reread of my journal from the Appalachian Trail, I discovered that even a quarter of a century ago, I was struggling with the role pilgrimages play in faith development.

The Sacred Journey is the seventh book on ancient spiritual practices published by Thomas Nelson Press. I received a copy of it for review from their Booksneeze program. ...more
1

Apr 17, 2011

Charles Foster tried really hard in writing this book. He determined to write a book about the sacred journey, or Christian pilgrimage. His main argument is that Christians are built to wander, they are built to go from place to place, never having a home while enjoying the minimalistic features of the journey. Not only that, but God is particularly affectionate toward those who wander, toward the nomad. Many things happen on the journey. God-encounters always take place, but sometimes in the Charles Foster tried really hard in writing this book. He determined to write a book about the sacred journey, or Christian pilgrimage. His main argument is that Christians are built to wander, they are built to go from place to place, never having a “home” while enjoying the minimalistic features of the journey. Not only that, but God is particularly affectionate toward those who wander, toward the nomad. Many things happen on the journey. God-encounters always take place, but sometimes in the unlikeliest of circumstances. He did a wonderful job in pointing out that we’re to see God in the midst of the journey—no matter what journey we’re on.

What he does, however, is give the sense of a person who is fed up with Christianity and who despises the city. He doesn’t say this per se, but this was the feeling and tone I got as I read this work. Not only does he support his point from Christian literature and biblical texts, but also extensively quotes other religions about the importance of the journey. It seems as though every other page is riddled with pronouncements against the cities in which we live. He even points out from OT texts that God always had a heart toward the wanderer while judgement was always poured out in the city, the place of wickedness.

He supports his position even further by drawing attention to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which is a classic and is a story of a wanderer. He uses this to show the importance of Christian pilgrimage, say to the Holy Land or some other physical location to experience God in a fresh way. Nothing wrong with experiencing God in the midst of whatever journey we find ourselves per se. But what Foster fails to recognize is that Bunyan’s work was the story of a lifetime journey—of Christian traveling through all of life until he finally reaches the Celestial City. Christian’s journey was not through physical places; but those “places” were sins, temptations, and other various trials he had to pass through. We are not called to go from place to place, wandering and wondering what is going to happen next. We are called to settle down, build community with those around us, and see cities transformed with the gospel of Christ while being part of a local church. The sacred journey isn’t a one-time trip to the Holy Land, but a way of life that we’re to live until we reach the Heavenly City.

He writes with a Don Milleresque style, which works well for Don but not so well for Foster. I like the effort he put into the book and the way he tried to make it sound, a little rough around the edges. I applaud him for his break from the normal “Christian” style of writing. But this book did nothing to convince me of the sacred journey I’m to take to a physical location so I can experience God in a way that I never have previously. Rather, I actually loved the chapter on the opponents of pilgrimage, solidifying my position even more so, quoting extensively from the reformation period. That chapter alone was worth the price of the book.
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3

Oct 30, 2011

The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to go out for a varsity sport. Though there were many reasons, they all boiled down to this: I wanted to connect more with my father. You see growing up I knew my dad was a real manly kind of man. He went loved hunting and fishing, fixed things around the house and worked on cars because he liked it. I wasnt a huge fan of fishing (I found it kind of boring, but at least you could read). I didnt care for hunting (same as fishing, The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to go out for a varsity sport. Though there were many reasons, they all boiled down to this: I wanted to connect more with my father. You see growing up I knew my dad was a real manly kind of man. He went loved hunting and fishing, fixed things around the house and worked on cars because he liked it. I wasn’t a huge fan of fishing (I found it kind of boring, but at least you could read). I didn’t care for hunting (same as fishing, but without the book) and I really, really wasn’t interested in rebuilding cars (Dad would have to wait for my youngest sister to find a kindred spirit there). It’s not that I ever thought my dad was disappointed in me. I knew he wasn’t. It was just that there weren’t a lot of interests we had in common and I wanted more of a connection with him.

So, I asked around among friends on the different teams trying to find a sport that I had a chance of lettering in with only one season. My friend Adam convinced me with this advice: “Running cross country is easy. Step one: start running … that’s it. There is no step two.” (Advice I would later hear eerily echoed by NPH’s Barney on How I Met Your Mother). I joined the team, I earned my varsity letter, got the jacket, connected a bit more with my dad and learned that I hate running. I’d rather walk.

For this reason, I was more than a little excited about Charles Foster’s entry in the Ancient Practices Series, The Sacred Journey. I envisioned a solitary soul purposefully walking across deserts and scaling mountains.

It didn’t take long before I realized I had it all wrong.

Foster’s book is less about walking and more about moving. Moving from a place of normalcy in the name of God, in search of a place that feels sacred where we can experience God more intimately, precisely and poignantly. I very much enjoyed Foster’s interweaving of his own experiences with the history of the importance of sacred journeys within the Christian tradition.

I’m not as big a fan of one of his repeated claims throughout his book, that God has a preference for the pilgrim and disdain for those who settle. Though Foster points to Jesus’ status as a camping wanderer, I just don’t buy that God hates the city. God can work just as decidedly in transforming people in the city as He can on the road.

In spite of my main issue with it, I recommend you pick up The Sacred Journey. It will challenge you in a way that I imagine you haven't been challenged before. It'll be good for you.


Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers 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 FTC's “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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3

Feb 03, 2011

This is the seventh book in the Ancient Practices Series. This one is about pilgrimages written by an English wordsmith. Jesus was a walker and all those who follow him must also be walkers in order to understand him more deeply. He includes scenes from his many experiences as a pilgrim and also tidbits from pilgrims of other religions. The writing is excellent, the thoughts clear and easily read. However, I found it quite Eurocentric but I suppose that was to be expected because pilgrimages This is the seventh book in the Ancient Practices Series. This one is about pilgrimages written by an English wordsmith. Jesus was a walker and all those who follow him must also be walkers in order to understand him more deeply. He includes scenes from his many experiences as a pilgrim and also tidbits from pilgrims of other religions. The writing is excellent, the thoughts clear and easily read. However, I found it quite Eurocentric but I suppose that was to be expected because pilgrimages seem to be more common to European and Asian people than to those of us in North America. His premise is that God is on the fringe of society, that Abel was his chosen favourite because God is at heart a nomad and dislikes cities which were developed by Cain. Therefore, it is easier to encounter him while walking on pilgrimages. He is definitely anti-gnostic and makes several disparaging comments throughout about church practices he believes lean towards the gnostic tradition. I agree with him in his statements that it is the journey that is the most important part of the pilgrimage, the feeling of being totally dependent upon God, the countryside, other pilgrams, and the goodness of hosts. This is when life-changing epiphanies will occur, not when you reach your destination. The big difference between being a pilgrim or a tourist. He does seem to pound home the idea that those of us who do not go on pilgrimages are missing a whole relationship with God and are second class Christians. I must admit that by the end of the book I was quite annoyed with the implied superiority that I believed was coming through his words. It struck me as interesting that his last chapter dealt with that exact comment from one of his friends. I wasn't alone in my thoughts after all. God is found in the messy parts of our lives but those of us who can't go on pilgrimages can also find him in our lives whether we are settlers or not.
I received this book for review purposes from Book Sneeze and the publisher Thomas Nelson. I was not required to post a favourable review. ...more
3

Feb 22, 2011

Charles Fosters The Sacred Journey is his case in support of Christian pilgrimage. He goes into to detail about the history of pilgrimages, their various benefits, and their significant role in journeys of faith.

Foster is in full support of everyone taking a literal pilgrimage to somewhere one deems as holy. The author describes his trip to the Holy Land, as well as giving countless examples of others pilgrimages.

I really liked this book, but I found a few problems with it.The first half of Charles Foster’s “The Sacred Journey” is his case in support of Christian pilgrimage. He goes into to detail about the history of pilgrimages, their various benefits, and their significant role in journeys of faith.

Foster is in full support of everyone taking a literal pilgrimage to somewhere one deems as holy. The author describes his trip to the Holy Land, as well as giving countless examples of others’ pilgrimages.

I really liked this book, but I found a few problems with it.The first half of the book is the strongest due to being filled with theology and meaty thoughts to chew on. However, when actually discussing the journey itself, Foster tries to compact this huge concept of which he has introduced.

I personally would love to go on this pilgrimage he supports, but it seems very contextual for Foster himself. Because I am a young woman, I am unable to do many of things he is able to do i.e. travel at night. I really wished he addressed this possibility better than simply tossing an obstacle in the last chapter.

Foster’s writing seems to drift here and there without much warning about where he is going. It is very scattered, but still very thought provoking. I underlined something on nearly every page, so do not think you will walk away empty-handed.

I found myself boxing off entire paragraphs reminding me of all the good, heavy parts of this book that make it worth the read. I learned a lot, and am glad I read it; the journey of reading this book was just like what a pilgrimage ought to be: joyful with a thick blisters.

(The Sacred Journey is the seventh book on ancient spiritual practices book series published by Thomas Nelson Press. I received a free copy of it for review from their Booksneeze program.) ...more
5

Feb 09, 2013

I have thoroughly enjoyed and grown with each book in this series. And I am convinced that the ancient practices are the things that are needed if we are to regain our footing in our fast-paced, materialistic, and narcissistic culture. This book, like the rest, stretched my worldview, gave me an appreciation for my faith heritage, and gave me the desire to go on pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage differs from a vacation trip as Communion/Lord's Supper/Eucharist differs from an after meal trip to I have thoroughly enjoyed and grown with each book in this series. And I am convinced that the ancient practices are the things that are needed if we are to regain our footing in our fast-paced, materialistic, and narcissistic culture. This book, like the rest, stretched my worldview, gave me an appreciation for my faith heritage, and gave me the desire to go on pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage differs from a vacation trip as Communion/Lord's Supper/Eucharist differs from an after meal trip to Baskin-Robbins. A pilgrimage is a trip of searching - for clarity, significance, or perhaps an encounter with God.

I have been on one pilgrimage in my life and it was one of the most difficult and enriching things I have done. And I intend write a memoir of my pilgrimage, the writing of the memoir may be a pilgrimage itself. I hope to re-learn or at least recall the significance of that trip.

I read this book hoping it would be a catalyst to begin this project. Here are the dog-ears, underlines, asterisks, and highlights:

pg. 14 - Christianity as an eastern religion; and most dominant in the west, where it is least likely to be understood!
pg. 36 - Chapter 3 - Bias to the Wanderer - in the stories of scripture, God seems to have a bias towards the wanderer. Especially liked the comments on Cain & Abel.
pg. 125 - Thin places
...more
5

Jul 22, 2011

I reviewed "The Sacred Journey" by Charles Foster. I received the book for free in exchange for 2 reviews.

This book is based on spiritual pilgrimage. It could be to the Holy Land or it could be any place where one gets growth, one gets answers, or where one learns about themselves in a way that is different from when they first started. The point of a pilgrimage is to move. We as humans are not meant to be stationary. We are nomads who wander. With all the technology that has been coming forth, I reviewed "The Sacred Journey" by Charles Foster. I received the book for free in exchange for 2 reviews.

This book is based on spiritual pilgrimage. It could be to the Holy Land or it could be any place where one gets growth, one gets answers, or where one learns about themselves in a way that is different from when they first started. The point of a pilgrimage is to move. We as humans are not meant to be stationary. We are nomads who wander. With all the technology that has been coming forth, we have learned to be still, to stay inside cities inside walls and just be happy or content with what we have. We don't venture outside the box to learn and grow. This book brings up passages from the bible mentioning how our forefathers were wanderers. This ranged from Abraham to Moses and than Jesus. Sometimes it is not getting there that is the beauty of the pilgrimage but the experiences you come across with the other people you meet along the way.

Like the other books in this series you get study questions for each chapter to help you see if you got the points of the chapter and also to see what would you do in these situations

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It will be one I will read again ...more
4

Apr 06, 2011

Charles Foster challenges us to take a pilgrimage in his book The Sacred Journey. He shares some reflections from journeys he has made as well as others experiences. He even advices you what to take should you venture out.

He starts the book When man was first born..he began to walk then continues on through Abraham, (who is the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) to Jesus who was the archetypal desert Bedouin, Jesus was homeless.

He makes the point that humans have never forgotten that Charles Foster challenges us to take a pilgrimage in his book The Sacred Journey. He shares some reflections from journey’s he has made as well as others experiences. He even advices you what to take should you venture out.

He starts the book “When man was first born…..he began to walk” then continues on through Abraham, (who is the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) to Jesus who “was the archetypal desert Bedouin, Jesus was homeless”.

He makes the point that “humans have never forgotten that they were designed as walkers.” That when things go wrong they go for walks. As Christians we know the journey matters that it’s not all about the destination. The journey is where we are changed in preparation for the destination.

This book is not one you can read through without stopping from time to time and contemplate what Foster is saying. Which I’m sure is the very purpose of the book. We says we have become too comfortable and lost our wonder and child likeness, which I do not disagree with. In the back he has a study guide so it could be used for small groups. I think it is a book that is well worth reading. ...more

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