On the bookshelf: The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

I love traveling … for any reason. I love driving on two-lane roads as much as I do flying between cities. Anytime I have the chance to go away, I get a break from the routine and, more often than not, discover a little something more about myself along the way.

In a sense such voyages of discovery are what Charles Foster explores in The Sacred Journey. Drawing on the history of pilgrimage in different faith traditions, Foster offers encouragement to those embarking on a sacred journey while exploring the idea that every day can be approached as a pilgrimage. He suggests that God himself has a bias toward the wanderer, noting that Jesus never had a permanent home during his life on earth.

The Sacred Journey isn’t a guidebook. It won’t tell you what to see in Jerusalem. It won’t offer the best ways to travel to Santiago. It won’t offer packing lists or itineraries. It does, however, speak to the spiritual preparation for the journey, the journey itself and the re-entry into everyday life after the journey.

On the Bookshelf: Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

Usually when I finish I reading a book, I have a rather clear idea of what I would say about it if someone asked or if I decided to write a review.

That didn’t happen with Michael Spencer’s Mere Churchianity.

In short, Spencer looks at the trend of people leaving the church and comes to a startlingly different conclusion than most church officials — that people are leaving in an effort to find Jesus. Church as it has come to be in America in the 21st century is layered in consumerism, nationalism and legalism that have obscured our view of Jesus himself. Spencer progresses through a description of this “Jesus disconnect” to finding the real Jesus and living a “Jesus life” as individuals and a community.

So often I wanted to shout, “Yes!” as I read. Other times I was more skeptical. Rarely did I flat out disagree with Spencer’s conclusions. He offers thought after thought that should spark debate in our churches. At the very least, his word should color how we see those who have left – or want to leave – the church.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not them, it’s us.