Chasing Francis : A Pilgrims Tale by Ian Morgan Cron is an interesting book which is put forward as a novel, but has a study guide at the back (which is significantly different to thoughts for a book group). The reviewer will reach different conclusions depending on how they view this book. If you see it primarily as a novel you will think it is mediocre and not detailed enough to be a decent novel. However, if you regard it as a Christian teaching book it scores extremely highly.
It focuses around an evangelical pastor who experiences a crisis of faith and ends up in Italy learning about St. Francis of Assisi and exploring how his teaching may be lived out today.
I personally found it an interesting and challenging book. It was interesting in how it put forward some ideas regarding what faith in a late/ post-modern world might look like and because of how it used narrative to explore these ideas. It was challenging because however comfortable one might be with the theological ideas underpinning what was being said it was clear that few of us, apart from a few exceptional individuals, are living this stuff out.
I was challenged about how out of line my life is with the faith I profess as a result of reading this book and I am sure that is where the study guide comes in useful. There is also a useful bibliography at the end of the book making clear that any pretence this is a novel in the normal sense should be abandoned.
Am I glad I have read it and would I recommend it? Yes, certainly especially to those who are weary with faith or wondering what on earth God is calling them into as Christians in 2016. I’d also recommend it to those who might want to be exploring Christian spirituality who have a cynicism about the church. It shows that there is another way possible and in small pockets people are seeking that vision and living it out.
This blog acts as my review blog. I do have another which is more spiritually based and more personal. I am going to be working through the study material from this book on that in due course and I invite anybody who wishes to follow my thoughts on that or better still who wishes to read the book and join in a discussion on the book with me to use my review on that blog.