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The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012


    To reaad

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  • Posted September 1, 2011

    Not my favorite, but it was worth the read

    "The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices" is the seventh book in the Ancient Practices series. although, I did not read the other books in the series, the Foreword indicates that the practices are traditions of the Christian faith and include such things as fasting, tithing, prayer, the liturgical year, communion, and keeping the Sabbath.  I had a very hard time getting into this book.  I was drawn away at the beginning when the author began talking about the pilgrimages of religions other than Christianity from a (in my opinion) strange viewpoint and the book felt like a non-Christian book.  I didn't think that the scripture references were used accurately and were actually very distracting from the message the author was trying to get across. The book was about the pilgrimage every person goes on, whether it be physical, spiritual or emotional. The author discusses the wanderings of those in the Bible and those of others who have made notable travels and how important it is to have the pilgrimage experience. Whether they are literal or figurative pilgrimages, the author discusses the benefits of having an open heart to experience the journey. Although I personally did not enjoy the book, it was more the writing style than the content of the book.
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2011


    The Sacred Journey

    The book, "The Sacred Journey", is beautiful .It describes me at my very core. I am the human being that has to walk when things go wrong. I yearn to be barefoot in my journey, because it truly is about the experience. The essence of the book is this: As humans, we pilgrimage. Some religions have a one a year big trip where you have to literally walk for hundreds or thousands of miles to reach a sacred building. As humans, we stride, or walk, wherever we go. It is not about arriving at our place, but it is about the journey. When it comes to our spiritual lives, it is no different. It is about choosing to walk with Jesus Christ daily, and live obediently to him alone.

    The journey of walking daily with Jesus Christ changes people. It changes you, and it changes me. If you are not walking with Jesus Christ daily, I pray you would. It is scary. It is challenging. But God yearns to be with us, and He is transforming us from the inside out. He is the only one who has the power to "create me in a new heart" (Psalm 51:10) Rev 21:5 is where the Lord is on His throne, and says "I make all things new!"

    God has such awesome power to transform us the minute we become "saved", but instead we are left to the journey. Why? This is, because it is the experience of the lifetime. We have the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord, as we forsake the old self and turn to Christ daily! We are never left on the journey alone. We have Jesus Christ to walk with us, as we journey and we have the support of fellow believers who are on different stages of the same life-long journey.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com

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  • Posted June 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book That Challenges The American Dream Mentality

    I knew going into it that The Sacred Journey would be a tough read, but I didn't know it would be so wonderful. Foster does a great job of explaining Pilgrimage, bringing it out of antiquity and making it relevant in our modern world.

    Foster's theory of Pilgrimage is based on the premise that Yahweh God was a Pilgrim God, "loudly and unequivocally on the side of the nomads." In whatever guise he appeared, he was a traveler "..and He has an alarmingly clear preference for people who can't keep still."

    God's values and character are demonstrated in a nomad's life in the following ways:

    Life on the edges
    Indiscriminate and costly hospitality
    Solidarity with the marginalized
    Intimate relationships with humans and the environment
    A new view at every step
    The loosest possible hold on possessions

    Pilgrimage is not just wandering, it's wandering after God, it's "a restoration of broken things and a making of new things." Pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have. "When men stop wandering, it all goes wrong," claims Foster, "That is what the story of Sodom is about..... we are bound to places and possessions, and befouled with all the moral detritus that comes with them." Foster is tough on Christians caught up in living The American Dream. "You become morbidly attached to your little slice and consumed with the desire to assert your title to it. It is not surprising that you become unhappy, cynical, jaded and fat. Get up, get out."

    The Sacred Journey is a powerful read. I am starting it all over again. It's full of Biblical examples and foundations. It is controversial. It is explosive. You may not agree with all of it. You may mourn that your life has gotten so far off-track.

    God, Foster reminds us, "wasn't a big hit with the urban establishment" and I suspect there is a lot of Christian establishment today that isn't fond of Foster's viewpoint. But I love it. I am a pilgrim at heart, always most attracted to the maps in the Bible.

    Foster concludes, "Salvation is by grace,, not by pilgrimage. But pilgrimages can help to create the conditions in which grace can work best." And he reminds us of Jesus' first words to his disciples: "Follow me."

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    If you're looking for a different perspective, this might be for you

    Get up. Go. Experience life as one only can on the road, stripped of responsibility, pressure and the burden to conform. In this, in pilgrimage, can one only truly come to understand the Lord and gain a closer relationship with Him and with others. This is what appears to be the message of The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster. Based on conversations, literature and his own vast experiences, Mr. Foster presents a motivational book that challenges his readers to simply "go and seek." See the world through new, child-like eyes. Experience life with all of your senses and without the blindness and complacency of everyday living often brings. See people for who they are rather than what they have to offer you. Who would not want this? Who would not want to simply be grateful for breath and for life without any other complexities? The Sacred Journey takes its readers through the nomadic experiences of Abraham to Medieval crusades and modern day pilgrimages. At its conclusion, Mr. Foster thoughtfully included questions for each chapter geared to motivate his readers to think and to absorb what he has written and shared. This is a very well written book, however it is one that will likely offend many of its readers. The thought that God prefers nomads to urban dwellers and that the sin of Sodom was their settlement will possibly be enough to cause some to stop their reading in the first half of the book. Thoughts regarding the cities the Bible declares the Lord commanded to be built will enter the minds of some and will likely color their perspective as they continue to read. Although many will not be able to simply get up and go on a pilgrimage due to responsibility and physical limitations, The Sacred Journey may still have some impact. The idea of stripping away all the gloss and all the filth to reach the true being in each of us.the idea of giving and sharing even among strangers.the idea of seeking a relationship with the Lord without any barriers.all of these are worth dwelling on and seeking out. The Sacred Journey may be the motivation some need to simply do these things. Others who continue to the book's end may find themselves challenged simply by looking at life from a previously unknown perspective.

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    Should Be "Medieval Practices", but You'll Get the Point...

    Charles Foster's The Sacred Journey is part of Thomas Nelson's Ancient Practices Series, edited by Phyllis Tickle. I wish that they would have put more thought into naming the series because I have now read two of the books in the series and both deal with medieval practices and have little to say about anything ancient.

    With that being said, there is nothing wrong with looking at the medieval practices of spirituality. Most modern Christians do not realize that we get most of our spiritual practices from this period - especially in the western church. Unfortunately, the word medieval is not considered as sexy as ancient in Christian publishing, so the period never really gets its full due.

    Drawing from a number of traditions, even non-Christian ones, Charles Foster shows us an image of humanity that desires to be on the move. He even argues that Yahweh prefers the nomads - that the God of the Bible is the God of the traveler and not the sedentary. There is a lot of value to this observation. History has shown us that whenever faith becomes static, it becomes violent and confrontational. It is when faith must remain mobile that it has its greatest complexity and vibrancy.

    Foster attempts to break down the meaning of pilgrimage - a moving faith - in the modern and postmodern context. In a way, he calls the church to see pilgrimage as a living part of our faith. I am not entirely sure he succeeds, but he certainly makes some strides in the right direction.

    I found myself agreeing more with Foster in his assessment of sedentary Christian faith than I did when he launched into many of his anecdotal observations on the benefits of pilgrimage. For example, he tries to make the point that being on a pilgrimage makes it harder to sin. Having read Canterbury Tales, I am not sure I agree with him.

    Additionally, he fails to address the role of the church in these pilgrimages. His focus is entirely individual, even in passages where he speaks about community and corporate journey. I am not sure that pilgrimage can be divorced from community, and I think that is one of the failures of medieval and modern pilgrimage. Consider the early monastics. At first, the desired to be completely alone but they quickly learned that spiritual discipline is best practiced in community.

    Is Sacred Journey worth reading? Yes. It has great merit, especially in our very settled and complacent age. But when you read it, discern carefully and think corporately rather than simply individually. My warning is to not buy into the romanticism of being alone on the road in the wilderness. Sometimes we are called to journey alone, but it is always in preparation for restoration to the community. It is not the loneliness that makes the pilgrim.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    It's okay

    In this book, Charles Foster discusses everything about the spiritual Journey. He starts out with the history of the pilgrimage and the significance it has to each of the different religions. He also discusses the process that is gone through in order to make a pilgrimage.

    Reading the summary of this book, I honestly thought it would be interesting to read. Throughout my entire life, I have always been interested in the concept of the spiritual journey and what it means to make one. So naturally, I thought this book would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

    I thought the information within the book was interesting. Foster does make some very good points, but I found it difficult to stay interested. The one thing I did find interesting though, was the discussion about fellowship on the road. It's easy to fall into our comfortable social ruts and never want to leave. It's safe and secure there. But out on the road, we are forced to make new acquaintances. We are put into the position of opening our eyes, not only to new people, but new ideas. The pilgrimage is good for growth of the mind, as well as the spirit.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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 Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted April 23, 2011


    Charles Foster is a barrister. For those of us in the United States, we most commonly refer to people in his profession as lawyers. Charles Foster writes like a lawyer, laying out his case, documenting his evidence, as seen in the 10 pages of citations at the end of the book. He hammers home his points, almost belaboring them. The challenge to us is that we, by our very nature, are wanderers. Jesus set the example as a wanderer. As we strive to follow in His steps, can we do less? There are many reasons why we should make a sacred journey and they range from getting rid of the junk in our lives to the fellowship we experience with other travelers. While the Christian pilgrimage is more about the journey than the arrival, the return is also important. We are changed by such a journey. One quote Foster included that particularly spoke to me was from R. S. Thomas - The point of travelling is not to arrive, but to return home laden with pollen you shall work up into honey the mind feeds on. This book made me long for a sacred journey. My mini Good Friday pilgrimage gave me a taste of what a longer passage may do for me. This book was provided to me by Booksneeze, a bloggers book review program. I was not required to write a positive review.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices

    DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program. In return I agreed to provide a review of the book.

    "The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices" is the seventh book in the Ancient Practices series. although, I did not read the other books in the series, the Foreword indicates that the practices are traditions of the Christian faith and include such things as fasting, tithing, prayer, the liturgical year, communion, and keeping the Sabbath.

    My initial assumption was that the book would present pilgrimage from the Christian perspective and provide a look at the history of pilgrimage in the Christian faith. However, the book spends a considerable amount of time discussing pilgrimage in other faiths (such as Hinduism and Islam) and their views of pilgrimage. The first few sentences of the first chapter even present man as having evolved into a walking creature (although it doesn't specifically use the term "evolve"), which is not congruent with the biblical understanding of origins.

    The author seems to take Scripture out of context, twisting them to support his viewpoint in many places as well (although I do agree with him concerning Gnosticism and the emergence movement). The author seems to offer a confused explanation of what salvation is and its exclusivity on pages 23 and 24, where he presents salvation as a debate between his friends of various denominations. He never seems to address specifically what it is (while stating on page 24 that the word "conversion" never appears in the gospels). In the end he seems to confuse salvation with actual physical pilgrimage because Jesus used the phrase "follow me" when responding to questions about how to reach heaven. He fails to mention other examples in the Gospels where Jesus specifies that one must believe (John chapter 6) and even the rest of the New Testament. He continues down this confused path (no pun intended) and offers the viewpoints and one of his friends and himself, stating that they have some religious moments and may even gain spiritual enlightenment through the act. In addition, the author seems to put man-made religions and men's experiences (including his own on page 53) above or at least on par with scripture.

    The author seems to be confused about what exactly he means by pilgrimage in some instances. He states that pilgrimage should not be interpreted as a spiritual journey but a physical walk (I believe this may be in response to the Gnostic viewpoint, where the spirit is good and the flesh or physical is bad). However, later on in the book, the author seems to refer to pilgrimage as a spiritual journey in a few instances. He also seems to describe pilgrimage in spiritual and mystical terms as if it is imbued with some power, which made me somewhat uneasy since the book is apparently designed to be from a Christian perspective.

    In short, I cannot recommend this book as a Christian work.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster explores the "ancient practice" of pilgrimage, offering both traditional and more abstract avenues through which to act the pilgrim (or at least think like a pilgrim). Foster does not attempt to "defend" pilgrimage. He does not offer a historical overview of the practice, and he does not provide many practical steps toward living pilgrimage. This isn't a "practical" book.

    It is, however, a beautiful meditation on the pilgrim life.

    Foster's book illuminates so much of what we suburban Christians are missing out on while we drive our comfortable cars- when we live in the same city for the whole of our lives, when we exist totally in an air-conditioned, cushioned, familiar world.

    Pilgrimages teach us the beauty of a journey. They teach us to embrace messiness and simplicity. They connect the body and spirit. They remind us that we do not belong, that (while on earth) we are not home.

    I love Foster's chapter on "thin places," places where, for whatever reason, God seems closer, "where, if you [are] quiet enough, you [can] hear the murmurings of God." I have decided that the sea is my thin place. And I have vowed to visit Jerusalem.

    But this book didn't just make me want to travel. It made we want to live like a traveler, to pack light, to make tentative plans, to make room for the unexpected.

    Foster reminds his readers in achingly lovely language that pilgrimage is more lifestyle than practice. We don't just make pilgrimages. We are pilgrims.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    This is one of the best books to use if you want a fun existential crisis.

    So, how do I begin this review? I suppose I'll begin it with asserting that this review is my own and that I received the book as part of Thomas Nelson Publishers BookSneeze review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

    Now that we're done with legality, let us press on. Far from being your common book, this one compelled me to think and reflect, an action I do not perform with every book. The Sacred Journey became a companion on my walks through the park, beckoning a renewed sense of self-awareness. As an author myself, I have had the opportunity to read many a book on spirituality, but this one takes a stark turn, combining humor with deep wisdom.

    Thinking over the many themes of the book, I've come to the conclusion that there is no definite answer to the many questions humanity asks. It is about the journey, the epiphanies we arrive at while our feet trudge forward.

    Furthermore, the book offers both the literal and philosophical option of pilgrimage. For one, a recurring theme in it is Jesus' prompting of "Follow me." While this is certainly a doable corollary to Jesus' message of the Kingdom, it's not an easy one. What The Sacred Journey espouses is, for me, a search of truth and a reawakening of our human spark, the awareness of our own being.

    I cannot ask others to share my view, but I think The Sacred Journey might just be the most pleasant and intriguing existential crisis I've ever had. I commend the book for its effective combination of light and heavy, as well as the author, for his personal conviction and courage. Overall, a great read, which I recommend to everyone.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    Purposeful Pilgrimage

    The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster is part of The Ancient Practices series put together by Phyllis Tickle. In it Foster looks at the spiritual benefit of going on a pilgrimage (while not clearly saying what a pilgrimage needs to look like). He contends that we're meant to be wanderers--that God doesn't intend for us to build cities. Whether that's true or not, a journey toward something sacred usually produces change.

    I enjoyed the book--mostly because I like the notion of traveling. I wish I could do more of it, and do it more purposefully. This book, for the most part, is more theoretical than practical. The author shares stories from his pilgrimages, from others he has met on the road and from journals of pilgrims.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze 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 Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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  • Posted March 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Take a walk with Jesus

    Have you ever been to Jerusalem?

    I haven't.

    But if I had, I wouldn't have gone as a pilgrim on a spiritual journey. I would have arrived as a tourist, and that wouldn't have been right.

    Now that I've read this book, I feel like I'd get more out of the experience.

    Charles Foster shares many personal stories about pilgrimage, as well as an overview of the many pilgrim routes in Europe and the Middle East.

    The last line of the book sums up its contents well: "[A]s a summary of the four Gospels, 'Let's go for a walk together' is not bad."

    If you'd like to take a walk with Jesus, then I recommend you read this book.

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    joyful with a few thick blisters

    Book Review: "The Sacred Journey" by Charles Foster
    Three and a half out of five stars.

    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.)

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  • Posted February 10, 2011

    Not my "cup of tea"

    This book is the last of the Ancient Practices Series and it deals with one of the lesser known and less common aspects of the Christian walk..pilgrimage. Charles Foster takes from his own journey as well as others (unknowns and Biblical characters) to give examples of pilgrimages. He tells of short and long treks both physically and spiritually.

    He pays great attention to detail in his surroundings on his pilgrimage and is very descriptive in his text. But...sadly, I just couldn't get into this book. The author, Charles Foster, comes highly recommended and is highly acclaimed, but for me, I just didn't care for the rambling style he has. He seemed at times, almost stiff...yet at others...all over the place.

    Or perhaps it was the book itself, the subject that didn't grasp me? I'm honestly not sure. Generally books of this nature if not easy to read, at least will grab me and have me intrigued. I just couldn't get into this one and struggled to get through it.

    The book itself, just simply was not my "cup of tea". It was indeed informative on the subject it was written...but whether it was the writing style of Charles Foster or the subject matter itself, this was not a book I enjoyed.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011


    This is an enjoyable read, although the author's way with words is a bit rambling. It is a kind of theology of travel based largely on the author's own experiences. As part of the Ancient Practices Series, it's meant to focus on pilgrimage, which is does attempt, though not as well as I would have liked. It is worth the time spent reading it.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Try a pilgrimage

    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.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    I did not know I was on a journey until I read this book.

    By Charles Foster

    I must admit that when I first started reading The Sacred Journey, I nearly fell asleep. Mr. Foster began with a little bit of Bible, then a little bit of Islam and then a little bit of Buddha. Facts, theory and intangibles. But, I remembered how much I enjoyed his work, The Jesus Inquest, and I trudged on.
    The more I read, the more things began to dawn on me. Islam had sacred pilgrimages as well as Buddhism. Since I am more familiar with the Bible, I began to pick up more readily the instructions of God. He told Abraham to come out from his people and go somewhere. He told Moses to come away from the backside of the desert, go to Egypt and then go somewhere else. Basically, God told Joshua to start conquering Canaan until He said to stop.
    Then, there's the New Testament. The wise men were told to journey to the west. Mary and Joseph were told to journey to Egypt and then told to journey back after a few years. Jesus told His disciples when He called them, simply, "Follow Me." Oh, by the way, He didn't say where either. After the resurrection, several of the Apostles went on journeys. Why did God want people to go on journeys?
    Chapters five through fourteen only begin to explain the reasons for a Sacred Journey. Among the many reasons are, to get rid of junk, to thirst for an encounter and the fellowship of the road. You will find yourself in a couple of these chapters.
    As I read the rest of the book, I realized that I had already been on a couple of Sacred Journeys but hadn't been too far away from the house. And at the age of 63, I was anxiously preparing for a few more. However, I did not know that was what I was doing until I read the book. Thanks, Mr. Foster. You caused me to remember some very precious times I have had in the past. Best of all, you have helped me look forward to my next journey.
    Booksneeze has supplied me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have not been instructed to give a good or a bad review.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    Sounds like a good book, recommended

    This sounds like a good book, I was suppose to get it from booksneeze but never received it unfortunately....I would recommend reading it however it sounds awesome.

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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Sacred Journey

    Have Christians rejected pilgrimage?

    "The Israelites knew it. David knew it. The writer of Hebrews knew it. John Bunyan knew it. "Blessed are those whose strength is in You. They have set their hearts on pilgrimage" (Psalm 84:5). We are strangers and pilgrims here. We're passing through this place, on a sacred journey to somewhere else." A best selling author, Charles Foster explores the art of pilgrimage. A chance to move one step closer to our ultimate goal through prayerful awareness, study, and meditation. In the foreword to the book, editor Phyllis Tickle warns that every single person who reads the book will totally disagree with at least something that the author writes.

    I am probably not the best person to write a review on The Sacred Journey. It delves into the history of the roads Jesus traveled in his journey while here on earth and how we, as Christians, should learn how rewarding pilgrimage can be by following Jesus' example. Although, we do not have to travel to Jerusalem or other far away places. We can find ways to demonstrate pilgrimage in our on neighborhood. He quotes from a wide variety of sources, both Christian and non-Christian,

    History is not my favorite subject, so this was a hard book for me to read, and I had a hard time staying focused while reading. But, that doesn't mean this is a bad book. And if you are a history/philosophy buff, this is a book for you.

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