Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Review: Chasing Francis

I finally finished Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron.  It took me a LONG time to get into it, but somewhere around the 1/3 of the way point, well, I could barely put it down.  Basic plot is: Evangelical church planting minister has a major crisis of faith.  Calls on his uncle, who happens to be a Franciscan monk over in Italy, and is invited to come on a pilgrimage.  Learns lots about St. Francis, but even more about himself.  Comes back to his church a different man, and deals with the repercussions of that.

The story is semi-biography (of St. Francis of Assisi), but also something of a tour of modern Catholicism, at least as carried out by the Franciscans, through the eyes of an evangelical pastor in need of some major healing and a fresh perspective.  It is somewhat of a commentary on the church of today.  Somewhat of a recipe for what might be needed for the church to stay relevant in post-modern culture.  And at points, it is laugh out loud funny.  His description of the Italian nuns boarding a bus... very funny.

I'm finding the book to be fascinating.  I only knew a little bit about St. Francis before reading this book.  And it is a little weird for me to be looking at Catholicism (past and present) through the eyes of an evangelical, since I'm not in either camp myself.  I can't identify with all of where Chase is coming from, nor can I identify with the friars.  But the story gave me so much to think about.  I highly recommend this to, well, pretty much anybody.

I found the parallels drawn between our time and the time of Francis to be really interesting.  Francis lived at a time when the world was turning upside down, and the Western Church was trying to define itself in this new age.  One point being made in the book is that we live in a similar time of change, and the church(es) today is trying to define itself in this new age.

I didn't even see the study guide in the back of the book until I was about halfway through.  So I will have to come back to the book (after a friend reads it!) and work through the study guide on my second journey through.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review 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 Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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