Chase Falson has lost his faith so he crosses the Atlantic to visit his uncle, a Franciscan priest, where he encounters the teachings of Francis of Assisi and rediscovers his ancient faith. Follow Chase's spiritual journey in the footsteps of Francis, and then begin one of your own through the pilgrim's guide included in this book.
About the Author
Ian Morgan Cron is an Episcopal priest, speaker, musician, and retreat leader. Ian and his wife have three children and divide their time between homes in Connecticut and Tennessee. Visit his website at www.iancron.com.
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Chasing FrancisA Pilgrim's Tale
By Ian Morgan Cron
NavPressCopyright © 2006 Ian Morgan Cron
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the middle of the journey of our life I came to my senses in a dark forest, for I had lost the straight path.
Oh, how hard it is to tell what a dense, wild, and tangled wood this was, the thought of which renews my fear! - Dante, Inferno, canto 1, lines 1-6
As Alitalia flight 1675 began making its final descent into Florence, I nervously fanned the pages of my copy of The Divine Comedy. Two decades of sitting in my damp basement had left a powdery coating of mildew that wafted into the air around me. For a moment I saw it, tiny specks and spores floating idly in the rays of sun pouring through the window. I hadn't read the Inferno portion of Dante's classic since I was an undergrad. At nineteen, of course, the freight those first few lines carried would have been utterly lost on me. Now, reading them with thirty-nine-year-old eyes, I wished I could call Dante up and schedule a lunch. I had a long list of questions for him.
Through the patina of condensation on the plane's window, I surveyed the Tuscan countryside below and knew that I had lost the "straight path" and entered a "dense, wild, and tangled wood." Two weeks earlier I'd been Chase Falson, founding pastor of the largest contemporary evangelical church in New England. My fourteen years in the ministry were achurch-growth success story. I'd considered myself one of the privileged few the heavens had endowed with a perfectly true compass. I'd known who I was and where I was going, and I'd been certain that one day I would see the boxes neatly checked off next to each of my life goals. I'd liked myself. A lot.
These days, lots of people dismiss you when they discover you're cut from evangelical cloth. Once you've been outed as a conservative Christian, they assume you're a right-wing, self-satisfied fundamentalist with all the mental acuity of a houseplant. Every Christmas, my Uncle Bob greets me at the front door of my parents' house gripping a martini in one hand and a fat Cuban cigar in the other. He slaps me on the back and yells, "Look who's here! Its Mr. EEEeyah-vangelical!" It's disconcerting, but Bob's an idiot and can't help himself.
For many a year, the terms New England and evangelical have been almost mutually exclusive. My church history professor told me that Jonathan Edwards referred to New England as "the graveyard of preachers." Baleful as that sounded, it didn't dissuade me from heeding the call to head east after seminary. My three closest friends were incredulous when I told them about my decision to start a church in Thackeray, Connecticut, a bedroom community thirty-five miles from Wall Street.
"Have you lost your mind? Even God's afraid of the northeast," they said.
I laughed. "It's not so bad. I grew up there."
"But you could go to some mega-church in California or Chicago," they argued.
Truth be told, I wasn't interested in working for a church someone else had built. I wanted to be the pioneer who "broke the code" for the spiritually barren northeast, heroically advancing the cause of Christ into the most gospel-resistant region of the country. As a native, I was certain I knew the cultural landscape well enough to reach the Ivy Leaguers whose homes lay discreetly hidden behind stone walls and wrought-iron gates. A little self-important, but there you have it.
And yet, I had delivered the goods. I'd built a church where, at last count, over three thousand people came to worship every Sunday-a Herculean feat in a part of the world that's suspicious of things that are either big or new.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see now that Putnam Hill Community Church had been built on the appeal of my belief in a God who could be managed and explained. I'd held such an unbendable confidence in my conservative evangelical theology that even some of the more skeptical locals had been won over. After I'd put in years of seventy-hour workweeks, Putnam Hill had become a church brimming with young Wall Streeters and their families, many of whom had come because they were disappointed that happiness hadn't come as optional equipment in their Lexus SUVs.
That world had detonated ten days ago. Gazing down on the terracotta roofs dotting the approaching Tuscan hills, I found myself on a forced leave of absence, and chances were good that when I returned home I would be out of a job.
* * *
I have discovered that reaching the climax of a spiritual crisis in front of a thousand people is less than politic. In retrospect, I should have realized that I was standing on the edge of a yawning existential abyss. underground streams of doubt had been leeching into the well of my most deeply held beliefs for two years. The scaffolding that supported my whole system of belief was shaking as if some unseen force were trying to pull it down.
Three months before the cover came completely off the ball, I began meeting with Dr. Alistair McNally. "Mac" is a sixty-five-year-old psychiatrist and the only decent therapist within a thirty-mile radius of Thackeray. Born and raised in Dublin, Mac had tousled shocks of white hair and a bawdy sense of humor. He's the only Christian shrink I know who doesn't make those annoying throaty humming sounds when you tell him some painful detail about your life. He doesn't insist on maintaining eye contact with you like a Martian practicing mind control, either. He's just a regular guy who has a lot more mileage on his odometer than I do, and I like him. Mac's secretary, Regina, is a member of our church, so we met outside the office under the guise of playing squash at his club. My erratic moods were fast becoming a topic of conversation at church. The last thing I needed was for people to find out that I was seeing a psychiatrist.
One day, after he'd trounced me three games in a row, Mac and I sat on the floor outside the court, trying to catch our breath.
"So how are we doing this week?" Mac asked.
I heaved a sigh. "I actually feel worse than I did last week," I said. "I still can't sleep and I've gained three pounds. I've picked up a new hobby, though."
"What is it?" he asked.
Mac laughed. "So what do you do when you can't sleep?"
"You mean when I'm not glued to the TV, eating gallons of ice cream?" I asked.
Mac chuckled again. "Yes."
"I spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling, questioning everything I've believed in for the past twenty years. I can't figure out what's come over me. I used to be "Bible Man"-just push the button and I'll give you the answer. Next thing I know I'm Bertrand Russell. Someone pulled the chair out from under my faith."
"And what 'faith' would that be?" he asked in his lilting Irish brogue.
"The uncomplicated one," I said. "Following Jesus used to be so tidy. Every question had a logical answer. Every mystery had a rational explanation. The day I walked across the stage to pick up my seminary degree, I thought I had God pretty well figured out. Everything I believed was boxed, filed, and housed on a shelf."
Mac wiped his brow with a towel. "Sounds like Dragnet theology," he suggested.
"What does that mean?"
"A 'just the facts, ma'am' kind of religion," he said.
"Yeah, but for twenty years that worked for me. Now I have more questions than answers."
"What kind of questions?"
"Dangerous ones," I replied with mock seriousness.
Mac smiled. "Give me a 'for instance,'" he said.
"For instance: Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that I've been reading from a theological script someone else wrote? Is this my faith, or one that I bought into as a kid without really thinking about it? Why do I feel ashamed that I have doubts and questions about stuff? My faith used to be so full of life, now it all seems so beige. It makes me madder than you-know-what."
"How come?" Mac asked.
"I was sold a bill of goods," I said, tapping my racket head against the floor.
"It's hard to put a finger on. The whole Christian subculture, I guess. That tiny slice of the world used to be all I needed. Now I think it overpromises and underdelivers."
For months, anything that even remotely smacked of evangelicalism had been posing a challenge to my gag reflex. I used to devour all those books that promised a more victorious spiritual life in three easy steps. I went to the pastor conferences where celebrity speakers with mouthfuls of white Chiclet teeth gave talks that sounded more like Tony Robbins than Jesus. I'd recently gotten a mailer advertising a seminar on church growth and evangelism at a mega-church. The theme of the convention was emblazoned on the header: "Take the Hill for Jesus!" It had a picture of the host pastor holding a Bible, standing next to an army tank.
I'd been shocked a few years before when a friend from seminary converted to Catholicism because he felt evangelicals had "Mcdonaldized" Jesus. I was starting to see his point.
"I don't think anger's the core issue here," Mac said. "The anger is masking another emotion."
"Which one?" I asked.
"Fear of what?"
"You're afraid that if you can't find a new way to follow Jesus, then you might not be able to stay in the game," he answered.
Mac stood up to get a drink from the water cooler. That a guy with skinny white legs, a generous paunch, and a concave butt could thrash me so badly at squash was a little embarrassing.
"How are things at the church?" he asked.
"I'm teaching a series in our young adult class called Absolute Truth in an Age of Relativism."
"How's that going?" he asked.
"Not so hot. I feel like I'm trying to answer questions no one's asking."
"Including you?" Mac asked gently.
I shrugged. "Maybe. What's discouraging is that our twenty- and thirty-somethings are leaving."
"Any idea why?"
"I pulled one aside the other day and asked her. She said I had 'way too many certainties' and our Sunday services were too slick. They're all heading off to some hip new church in Bridgewater where everyone seems to like candles and goatees."
Mac sat down on the floor to stretch his hamstrings. "Other pastors in town must be dealing with the same stuff. Have you talked to any?" he asked.
"I went to a clergy luncheon last week."
Mac rolled his eyes and chuckled. It was a notorious cast of characters.
"How'd it go?" he asked.
"It was a disaster. They had a speaker who railed about the culture wars and how we needed to pray that America would 'rediscover the faith of its founding fathers.'"
"Oh boy," Mac said.
"Afterward, the conservative pastors got in a huddle and talked about America's 'slide into the moral abyss' and how they needed to get their congregants to vote republican. When I walked past the liberal table, I heard them talking about how they had to stop the 'crypto-fascist evangelicals' from taking over the country," I vented.
"What did you do?"
"I should've left, but I stopped at the conservative table for a few minutes," I said.
"The conversation was so depressing I tried to bring a little humor to it. So I said, 'Maybe we should build bunkers and store up canned goods for the apocalypse.'"
Mac's eyes got big. "How did that go over?" he asked.
"They scowled so hard at me I thought my hair would catch fire."
Mac's laughter echoed down the hallway.
"Seriously, Mac, I'm fed up with all the feuding between theological conservatives and liberals, the good guys and the bad guys. Everybody's so sure they've cornered the truth market. Every morning I want to throw open my window and yell, 'Tell me there's something more! There has to be something more!'"
We sat for a few minutes listening to balls ricocheting off the court walls. Every so often we'd hear someone yell an obscenity over a mistake that had cost a point.
Mac stood up. "Did you ever see The Truman Show?" he asked.
"The Jim Carrey flick?"
"Go rent it. It'll give us something to talk about," he said.
I stood up slowly. I'd torn the ACL in my right knee when I was in boarding school, and today I'd forgotten to bring my brace. "okay," I said, intrigued by the assignment.
"I'm going home for three weeks to visit my mother. I'll call when I'm back and we'll set up another appointment," he said. He held open the door to the court for me. "Care for another lesson?" he asked puckishly.
* * *
On Saturday night my student ministries' pastor Chip came over to eat pizza and watch The Truman Show. When it comes to youth ministry, Chip has everything a senior pastor wants and then some. He's good looking, charismatic, athletic, plays the guitar, and parents think he walks on water. The only thing that annoys me about him is that he lives in a state of constant surprise. Anytime someone walks into a room, he stands up, yells "Dude!" and hugs them like he hasn't seen them in ten years. I should know; he does it to me about five times a day. I knew Chip was getting antsy. He's thirty-two, and he's been dropping hints that he doesn't want to work with kids much longer. I dread the idea of trying to replace him.
Mac was right. The Truman Show was great. Jim Carrey plays a guy named Truman Burbank who grows up in an idyllic town on a small island called Seahaven. What Truman doesn't know is that he's the star of the longest-running reality TV show in history. The island is a gigantic soundstage, his friends and family are actors, and five thousand hidden cameras beam his every move to the outside world. Gradually, Truman begins to realize that something is amiss. He senses that there's something beyond Seahaven, and despite everyone's attempts to keep him on the island; he becomes increasingly determined to leave and discover the truth. One day he escapes in a small boat, sails through a violent storm, and crashes into the wall of the soundstage that's painted to look like the horizon. As he feels his way across it, he discovers a door and is faced with a decision. Does he return to his perfect life on the island, or does he walk through the door into whatever's waiting for him on the other side? In the final scene of the movie, Truman leaves the only world he's ever known and discovers the real world outside.
"Was that an amazing movie, or what?" I asked, turning off the TV.
Chip shrugged. "It was okay, I guess."
I stared at him. "What do you mean, 'okay'? It was filled with layers of symbolism and meaning," I said.
"It wasn't as good as Braveheart. Besides, I like Jim Carrey's comedies better. Dumb and Dumber was freaking hilarious," he answered through a mouthful of pizza.
I stood up. "Are you serious? This movie's about the search for truth, for transcendence, for a higher reality. Dumb and Dumber isn't even in the same league," I replied.
"Have you seen it?" he asked.
I went red in the face. "No, but ..."
Chip stood up and began rummaging around in his pockets for his car keys. "It just didn't seem all that believable," he said. "Why would Truman want to leave the island?"
"You're kidding, right?" I asked.
"He had a pretty good life."
I was beginning to wonder if Chip and I had watched the same movie. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if we even lived in the same galaxy. "But, Chip-he couldn't possibly stay on the island. The whole thing was a lie!"
"Did you see how pretty his wife was?" he asked.
"Chip, wake up!" I shouted.
Chip's face darkened, and he folded his arms across his chest. "Chase, what's with you these days? I'm a little tired of being treated like an idiot. You asked me what I thought, and I told you," he said.
He was right. I'd been pushing his buttons a little hard lately. And I knew why. Chip was an icon of everything I'd begun to resent. He walked and talked the party line. He didn't question anything. He had a facile answer for every question the universe threw at him. I followed him to the front door with my tail between my legs.
"I'm sorry, Chip. I'm feeling a little burned out these days," I said remorsefully.
"Okay," he said, but I could tell it wasn't. "I better head home. I've got a big day tomorrow," he said yawning. "I told the senior highers they could shave my head if they raised enough money to underwrite our mission trip to Mexico. A bunch of them said they were going to bring their unchurched friends to watch," he said.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Chase Falson has lost his faith - and he did it right in front of the congregation at his megachurch." begins the back cover of Chasing Francis. The author, Ian Morgan Cron, combines a search for faith with a trip to Italy, throwing a megachurch pastor in as the one on this unlikely pilgrimage. I loved the sights described in the book and the way Chase traces the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, ultimately rediscovering a faith that looks entirely different than it originally did. Through an unlikely cast of characters, Cron takes us all on a journey to meet St. Francis and I have to admit that I am now fascinated with Francis. Chasing Francis is a critique of modern day Evangelicalism, but it is a critique without malice, readily acknowledging that we could sit around all day critiquing or we could live the lives that reflect the gospel and the church we want to see exist. As Cron says, "Francis was more than an entertaining street preacher. He didn't want to win people to faith through theological arguments or by reasoning with them. His way of evangelizing people was through the example of this own life. That's what gave his simple words so much gravity and impact. His life was his theology" (p.149). I especially liked the definition of the church Cron gave: "Churches should be places where people come to hear the story of God and to tell their own. That's how we find out how the two relate. Tell your story with all of its shadows and fog, so people can understand their own. They want a leader who's authentic, someone trying to figure out how to follow the Lord Jesus in the joy and wreckage of life" (p.67). This image of the church is refreshing to the doubters among us, those of us who have grown to appreciate a more down to earth approach to faith, stripped of the fancy buildings and expensive sound systems. It reminds me of an old Matt Redman song about coming back to the heart of worship. Sometimes I wonder what faith people would be left with if all the extras were removed. Like Chase, I had to leave the church for a bit in order to find a faith that is a lifestyle, a theology that I can live, day in and day out. I don't know if there will be a sequel to Chasing Francis, but I'd love to someday read more about the new community Chase has dreamed of seeing. 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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
'Chasing Francis' is one of the best fictionalized non-fiction books I have read in a very long time. The story is about a pastor who has lost his faith. Sound familiar and dull? I thought so too until I was on the second page. And then everything changed. The book is actually about the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi but set in a fictional story featuring Chase Falson, the disillusioned pastor of a large New England church. The book chronicles Chase's search for the real Jesus, not the one that he had manufactured to suit his own theology. To find Him, Chase turns to an uncle who is a Franciscan priest in Italy. Compelling fiction is skillfully woven around a detailed examination of the teachings of St. Francis, leading the reader into a path of self-reflection that will challenge any Christian's blind acceptance of what they have always been taught about who Jesus is and what He stands for in today's culture. The only disappointment was the last few pages which are a 'sermon' by the main character. Had to slough through them to get to the Epilogue which picked the story back up and tied up the loose ends very nicely. Even though I was provided this book by NavPress Publishers as part of their blogger review program, I have since bought three copies and given them to friends and family who are wondering about their own faith. This is a great read for anybody who thinks they know Jesus but who are willing to be surprised by discovering Someone new.
I had no sooner finished reading 'Chasing Francis' than I turned back to the beginning to start all over again: this time, concurrently with the study guide at the back of the book. Every chapter provoked a hundred thoughts and questions: the study guide posed even more. This is a novel, telling the story of Chase Falcon, a modern Christian (he is actually a pastor of a mega church) who had become disillusioned with post-modernity to the point of losing his faith, alongside the story of St Francis. It is amazing: the kind of book which references ideas - and, in this case, other writers - which make you just want to start reading and studying all about them as well. Add the comprehensive bibliography at the back of the book and years of adventure await. Every chapter struck a chord. Chase wrestles with the kind of questions which many of us have but rarely dare to voice. Like Francis, he rediscovers his faith and, with it, different ways of expressing it. Francis served Jesus completely and unreservedly. Whether or not that is your aim, too, then start a pilgrimage to find out how you can best do that. Start with this book. 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."
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale is a spiritually uplifting novel for anyone who has lost their faith and are in search of a renewal. The author, Ian Morgan Cron, has weaved a tale of fiction with non-fiction that is sure to enlighten all those who peruse its pages.Chase Falcon is a pastor of a very successful ministry who begins to see flaws in his parishioners and the church he preaches from. While struggling internally with the materialistic trappings that have become a part of the religious cycle, Chase doubts his influence. The day one of his young members dies from an accident, Chase's floodgates can no longer be held back and in front of his congregation he laments about the evils that each of them has allowed into their house of God. The elders are appalled and ask Chase to take a leave of absence until he can get his head together. Stepping into Chase's shoes is his Senior Pastor, Chip, causing a rift in the church, and eventually, the churches demise. Suffering from depression, Chase is uncertain of his future, and has no direction. A phone call from his Uncle Kenny, a Franciscan Monk, to come spend some with himself and his brothers in France and retrace the steps of his patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, sounds appealing to Chase and he embarks on what will be one of the best experiences in his life.Dispersed throughout the narrative are aspects of St. Francis that will give a different light on the Patron Saint of Children and Animals. Ian Morgan Cron has given you insight into the kind of person St. Francis was and why he is still reveled to this day. I quite enjoyed the book, it was easy to read, understand and the characters are enjoyable. I found myself wishing I were hanging out with the Franciscan Monks. Their jocularity and intense love of life would be refreshing to be around. SYNOPSIS:Author, musician and speaker Ian Morgan Cron sheds new light on the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, "the Last Christian." Cron masterfully weaves actual accounts from the life of Saint Francis' into the fictional story of Chase Falson, a New England minister on a pilgrimage to regain his faith. It's an amazing story with profound implications for the contemporary church.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Show what is really important in our lives and how we must be focused on serving Jesus.
"Pastor Chase Falson has lost his faith-and he did it right in front of the congregation of his mega church. Now the elders want him to take some time away. Far away. So Chase crosses the Atlantic to Italy to visit his uncle, a Franciscan priest, where he encounters the teachings of Francis of Assisi and rediscover his ancient faith." (back cover) Pastor Chase is a man on a spiritual mission. The life and church he created is no longer working for either Chase or the young people who need more than a "McDonaldized Jesus" and the empty promise of "...a more victorious spiritual life in three easy steps." "So where is God?" becomes the question that needs more than a scripted answer...something more than an appealing and easily digested "...brand of religion...." When nine year old Iris dies Chase's carefully constructed faith is no longer logical or straightforward. Chase Falson's story reads more like a memoir than a novel and is sure to inspire any reader who seeks to find their own story beyond the labels. The second part of Chasing Francis offers seekers a wonderful guided pilgrimage based on the voluntary life of St. Francis of Assisi. (Note: the collected bibliography is truly a treasure for those readers who want to continue the journey.) Bestselling author Ian Morgan Cron masterfully weaves lessons from the life of Saint Francis into the story of Chase Falson to explore the life of a saint who 800 years ago breathed new life into disillusioned Christians and a Church on the brink of collapse. Chasing Francis is a hopeful and moving story with profound implications for those who yearn for a more vital relationship with God and the world. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes ... the words are my own. Today I rarely give 5-Stars, Chasing Francis is an exceptional book.
Many Christians question their faith from time to time. But when a pastor questions his faith in front of the entire congregation during a service, things will never be the same for either the pastor or the church. This book is about just such a crisis of faith, and what the pastor does to reclaim his faith in himself and his faith in God. I found this to be an exceptionally interesting, if not a fast read. I felt the need to stop and reflect now and then upon what I was reading or had just read. I like books like this - books that make me think about how my life relates to what I am reading. Chase's journey to discover whether he still believes in God is simple, yet takes some complicated twists and turns. I had hoped for a different conclusion, but it is what I was expecting. I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. I was not required to give a good review; the opinions expressed herein are my own.
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron . After a tragic accident, Pastor Chase Falson has "lost his faith", & it was in front of his congregation to top it all off. After a meeting with the deacons it was decided Chase needed a break. So off to Italy he goes to see his Uncle Kenny. Along the way he meets Friars who would knock your socks off with laughter & he finds deep friendships he didn't realize he had. Through this whole journey he learns about St. Francis of Assisi & helps him understand the deep root of True Faith. This book was amazing! I would recommend it to anyone who has at anytime questioned God & their faith. It's so good & so full of history that it sometimes feels as if your reading a memoir. I am so glad that I read this book & if you get it, you will be too! *I recieved this book free from Booksneeze as a part of their Blogger Program
I received a copy of CHASING FRANCIS: A PILGRIM’S TALE by Ian Morgan Cron from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. The back cover warns that the book reads more like a memoir than fiction, and it does, which is perfect. It gets to ring closer to home and may mean more to readers. It felt as though I sat across from the main character, Pastor Chase Falson, while he told me his tale. The story involves his loss of faith and how he revived it by visiting his uncle in Italy. He learns through the teachings of Francis of Assisi. I especially liked that part since I read a biography about him a short while ago. The end of the book includes a pilgrim’s guide to help you on your journey to follow in their footsteps. I found even the cover of the book to be very relaxing. I have been going through difficult times at work, with a severe emotional drain, and this book offered the perfect, intelligent escape. I could reflect on many of the inner-struggle thoughts. This is definitely a book I will recommend to others, and will pass this one on at work to others who are need of enlightenment.
Chasing Francis is a powerful, motivational book that will make you think. Chasing Francis is the fictional account of a wildly popular pastor of an evangelical mega church who one day lost his lid. He awoke one day to find that his religion seemed to be less than the “real thing.” He felt like his faith was quite suddenly shallow and lacking a solid foundation. This surprised him, left him perplexed. “I’d considered myself one of the privileged few the heavens had endowed with a perfectly true compass…… one day I would see the boxes neatly checked off next to each of my life goals. I liked myself a lot.” His pat answers no longer satisfied. “Now I’m the one who’s thirsty….. and the Jesus I’ve known for 20 years isn’t making it go away.” This Pastor took a sabbatical and visited his uncle, a Franciscan Monk in Italy. This led him on a pilgrimage through Italy, chasing St. Francis of Assisi, eager to learn everything he could about St. Francis. And he shares it all with us. It's amazing. What’s ironic is that this is exactly how I was feeling when I agreed to review this book. And I think a lot of evangelicals are beginning to feel this as well and that, my friend, is called “Post-Evangelicalism.” The previously unnamed cry of my heart I will now call Post Evangelicalism. I finished this book at the top of a mountain, 3800 feet above sea level, and thought it was going to change my life entirely. And it did. Until I descended the mountain. Real life infringed and stuffed me back in my little box. But I think I will break out and let this book transform my life for real.
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron published by Zondervan and released May 7.13 Ian Cron introduces us to Francis of Assissi via his impact on a contemporary pastor, Chase Falson, who hits the wall in his faith journey after the death of one of his parish children. Taking a much needed break to restore, refresh and rediscover faith, he travels to Italy to spend time with his uncle, a Fransiscan priest. While he's on this spiritual journey, the youth pastor back home is on a campaign to aggrandize his position to the elders and ingratiate himself to the congregation in order to become the replacement senior pastor. Chase had planted the church after his graduation from college, and seen it through all the early struggles, growth and building enlargement to its current place of respectability in the academically and intellectually wealthy area of Thackery. Chase's beliefs and the teachings of Francis collide in the experiential realities Chase encounters during his time in Rome and pilgrimage in the steps of Francis. God orchestrated connections and relationships speak deeply to him, re-orient his spiritual direction and focus that dramatically impacts his future upon returning to his US homeland. I'm including some of author Ian Cron's quotes to introduce readers to Francis and inspire us as readers to new ways of being Light to our world as well ... “First, if Francis were around today, he'd say our church community relies too much on words to tell others about our faith. For Francis, the gathered community was as potent a form of witness as words. He was convinced that how we live together is what attracts people to faith.” “Francis taught me that if we spent less time worrying about how to share our faith with someone on an airplane and more time thinking about how to live radically generous lives, more people would start taking our message seriously.” “Beauty can break a heart and make it think about something more spiritual than the mindless routine we go through day after day to get by. Francis was a singer, a poet, an actor. He knew that the imagination was a stealth way into people's souls, a way to get all of us to think about God. For him, beauty was its own apologetic. That's why a church should care about the arts. They inspire all of us to think about the eternal.” ¿ Ian Morgan Cron, Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale I appreciate the thought provoking challenges of this novel that had me countering with my own spiritual insights and responses. Definitely an interactive read. Thank you, Ian. I received this book from Zondervan Publishers to read and review without obligation. Thank you for the opportunity.
First I'd like to thank the publisher and BookSneeze for allowing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I give out 5 star reviews very rarely....meaning, about 1-2% of the books I read, are truly what I consider worthy of 5 stars. It has to change my life in some way, and this book did exactly that. It was such an interesting look into St Francis of Assisi's life, and such a modern story that it was hard not to get caught up in it. Ever since I started reading this book, it was as if Francis was trying to reach out to me through this book. Every where I turned, there was a statue of him, a church of him, a book of him, a quote about him....things that I had never seen before or experienced before were suddenly popping up. As a child growing up, I picked St Francis as my patron saint in confirmation (much to the consternation of the Catholic teachers that believed a girl should pick a girl saint, not a boy saint!). This book showed me how wonderful and apropos of a choice he really was. Because of this book, I'm definitely hunting down more books on him.
The church Chase Falson founded now has 3,000 members and Chase is about burnt out. He isn’t even sure what he believes anymore. After a meltdown during his last sermon the elders insist he take time off to recover. Meanwhile, his assistant appears eager for the head pastor role. Chase flies to Italy to spend time with his Uncle Kenny, a monk in the Franciscan orders near Florence. Kenny arranges a pilgrimage for Chase, to follow the path of 13th century Francis of Assisi. Chase learns astonishing things that help him see similarities between many present day churches and the church of Francis’ time. Francis quietly but insistently returned the church of his age to truth and wholeness. Chase knows Francis’ methods are needed for our day. He realizes where he’d erred in his own theology and preaching. During Chase’s journey he meets several interesting people and receives a cool surprise that will clue readers to this sincere, tired pastor’s possible future. The combination of a novel about struggling Christians and facts from the life of a 13th century monk create a most interesting book. What the story teaches readers can be exciting for our own lives and worship. To keep the novel from ‘lecturing’ the author includes a section at the end of the book with questions and more information about Francis’ teachings.
Story driven biography of St. Francis. Check it out. One of my favorites.
I have to agree with Gordon MacDonald who wrote, "I'd like to be part of a church that this hero ends up proposing." Chasing Francis is a historical novel that tells the story of a disenfranchised, evangelical minister who goes on a pilgrimage (sabbatical?) to rediscover his faith. He makes it very clear that he didn't loose his love for Jesus but for Jesus' church. Through traveling to Italy and following the journeys of and studying the life of Francis of Assisi, Chase (the main character) comes to a deeper understanding of what it means to truly follow Christ. From a theological standpoint, I struggled with the emphasis on Francis instead of a focus on Christ, but I had to remind myself that the book is fiction and not necessarily what we would consider "Christian Living." However, his final picture of the church he wants to lead is in line with Christ's vision set out in the Gospels. There are some things I would add to his vision, but I believe the implication behind the story is not that the church needed so much to be only what was presented but needed to add to what it was already doing, while changing some things, to better realize Biblical Christianity. Over all this book was worth reading and I'd love to participate in a discussion group of it. For the record, I was in tears at the end of it. It's been a long time since I read a good piece of fiction (literally, probably over 10 years), and this was a great re-introduction to the genre. Overall, I'll give it 4/5 stars. 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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This is one of the first genuinely good books I've read in a long time that adequately meshes good storytelling with sincere Christianity. The protagonist is a pastor of an evangelical mega-church; his name is Chase. One day, when faced with an already deteriorating faith that is given the big kick with the death of a beloved child, Chase tells his entire congregation that his faith is no more. When confronted by his church elders, he is told to take some time off. Emotionally spent, Chase travels to Italy to visit his uncle Kenny who is a Franciscan priest. Through a long pilgrimage that continues even after Chase leaves, Chase comes to know what St. Francis was really like, what he did, and what he taught. Kenny and his other Catholic priests / monks take Chase around to view places of historical importance in the church and even allowed Chase to see poverty firsthand and let him help. Chase even learns what it means to be a true follower of Christ, not just a so-called Christian. Of course, at the end, Chase regains his faith. However predictable this ending may be, the passage to get there is heartfelt and real. The pages keep turning as readers see themselves in various parts of the story. As a Catholic, I like how bits of Catholicism from the liturgy to cathedral to transubstantiation are introduced in a positive way without being overbearing. Chase doesn't convert to Catholicism in the end, but he does grow closer to God through various Catholic venues. He even prays to St. Francis after a while. At the end of the book, there is a lengthily study that includes excerpts followed by questions with space to fill in answers. Christians of all types can learn more about God, worship, and themselves with this book. Best of all, due to the construction of the book, they will most likely want to live out what they learned.
St. Francis of Assisi has always fascinated lots of people, and many books have been written about his life. Chasing Francis is not another biography about Francis, but tells the story of Chase Falson, founding pastor of an evangelical church in New England, and his 'meetings' with Francis.. Aftter a terrible event, an 'earthquake' that hits the foundation of his beliefs, Chase decides to go on a pilgrimage in Italy. This pilgrimage is a journey following the spiritual path of Francis. Two worlds meet each other in Assisi: the first, Chase with his background (American way of life): churches managed like companies, consumerism, or paraphrasing Descartes (Cogito ergo sum): 'I shop, therefore I am' (p. 195) the second '... amidst the simple beauty of nature.' (p. 83) as Chase quotes Anne Frank, a journey to the first days of Christianity, where simplicity is a buzzword. The first feeling of Chase is skepticism: 'I wonder what Francis would say if he were the main speaker at a church-growth conference. Would anyone take him seriously?' (p. 100) But Chase with the help of his uncle, a Franciscan friar and other brothers, like some industrious brown ants, discovers a world with 'new colors' (p. 121), a new path to follow. Every day the friars have a surprise for Chase: they pick up small colored pieces of stone so to build a mosaic with the image of St. Francis, or out of metaphor they 'restore' Chase. Time is running: Chase has to go back home: 'Where would I go when my pilgrimage was over? Francis was teaching me . How would I apply all this new knowledge?' (p. 139) At the end 'we again beheld the stars.' (p. 208) This book was written in a genre called wisdom literature, a balance of fiction and non-fiction: in my opinion it has been a good choice; resulting a readable book from different point of views: an historical book (St. Francis and his age); travels' book , also suggesting the idea of journey as redemption. 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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
A more accurate title for Ian Morgan Cron's book, Chasing Francis- A pilgrim's Tale, would have been: "My Coversion to Roman Catholicism from Evangalism". Cron's work is a fictional novel which tells the story of a dissapointed, dissolusioned, young evangelical pastor, who has a spiritual break-down following the unexpected death of a child in his parish. Unable to find solace within God's word, the hero, the young pastor named Chase, seeks to find "another Jesus", whereas on page 37 he states: "I'm sure there's another Jesus I haven't met yet. How on earth do I find him?". Yet, this is in direct opposition to Paul's warnings in his letters of the new testament of the bible, when he explains that some followers will abandon their faith and the truth that they learned for a false gospel or a false depiction of Christ. Also Jesus tells the parable of the seed, how it fails to grow when it becomes entangled with thorns- a metaphor for those whose weak faith is broken in the face of hardship. The response of this Pastor to tragedy is disheartening and discouraging for anyone who has faced personal tradgedy yet found solace in God. The best answer to Chase's statement should be obvious- Would not one's journey to find Jesus begin with the word of God in the bible? Is it required that one just leave his home and go on an expensive, nostalgic siteseeing trip to get away from the pain of life? Regrettably, this is not an option for most people. The erroneous assumption is that the bible would not help in the pursuit to find Jesus or solace. Chase openly declares on page 43: "I want to find a new church and a new way to follow Jesus". The books is subtle and cleverly written that it could turn any unsuspecting reader into a Roman Catholic, endearing almost anyone into believing in the legitimacy of the intercession of the Saints, the priesthood, the mystical visions/ appirations of Mary, the authority of the pope and transubstantiation. Key Catholic terms (on page 33), such as the Eucharist and the intercession of the Saints are repackaged and redefined in order to make the concepts more palitable to those with bible based faith. Rituals, Catholic traditions such as the mass, infant baptism, and mystisism are systematically justified without explanation of what these concepts really mean. Perhaps this book is an attempt at the ecumenical movement, in which theological and doctrinal differences are overlooked and undermined. The conflicts of Roman Catholic tradition with the bible are not addressed and are basically ignored. In direct opposition to gospel message of the bible, the reader is left with the feeling that all paths of worship are acceptable and that there is not one single truth. (Page 55). For more see http://pjtheemt.blogspot.com/2010/09/chasing-francis-by-ian-morgan-cron.html since my review didnt fit here
It is my opinion that this fictional work by Ian Morgan Cron goes hand in hand with the theme of the Life Recovery Bible and to be sure, a good addition to any family library. I laughed and wept as each chapter unfolded. This is truly a book about life's lessons. A successful minister suddenly finds himself questioning life and the resulting confrontation between the Elders of the church and his congregation ends in a leave of absence which sends him on a journey of recovery. He meets wonderful people including a life long lost Uncle whilst following the trails of St Francis of Assisi thus the title. Albeit a work of fiction it includes many actual events as well as historical facts. I was however surprised by the ending and therefore give it a 4 1/2 star rating. 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."
Great book! Very thought provoking.
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale is a spiritually uplifting novel for anyone who has lost their faith and are in search of a renewal. The author, Ian Morgan Cron, has weaved a tale of fiction with non-fiction that is sure to enlighten all those who peruse its pages. Chase Falcon is a pastor of a very successful ministry who begins to see flaws in his parishioners and the church he preaches from. While struggling internally with the materialistic trappings that have become a part of the religious cycle, Chase doubts his influence. The day one of his young members dies from an accident, Chase's floodgates can no longer be held back and in front of his congregation he laments about the evils that each of them has allowed into their house of God. The elders are appalled and ask Chase to take a leave of absence until he can get his head together. Stepping into Chase's shoes is his Senior Pastor, Chip, causing a rift in the church, and eventually, the churches demise. Suffering from depression, Chase is uncertain of his future, and has no direction. A phone call from his Uncle Kenny, a Franciscan Monk, to come spend some with himself and his brothers in France and retrace the steps of his patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, sounds appealing to Chase and he embarks on what will be one of the best experiences in his life. Dispersed throughout the narrative are aspects of St. Francis that will give a different light on the Patron Saint of Children and Animals. Ian Morgan Cron has given you insight into the kind of person St. Francis was and why he is still reveled to this day. I quite enjoyed the book, it was easy to read, understand and the characters are enjoyable. I found myself wishing I were hanging out with the Franciscan Monks. Their jocularity and intense love of life would be refreshing to be around.