March 12, 2011

"Chasing Francis" by Ian Morgan Cron *Book Review

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's TaleIf you asked me how much I knew about St. Francis of Assisi, I would have to confess that I'm only really familiar with the stone garden statue of the saint spending time with animals. That's about it. Although, I've heard about him, I was never really familiar with his life story or his impact on Christianity.

Chasing Francis is the story of one man's pilgrimage to get in touch with authentic Christianity. Chase Falson seemed to have it all together - the pastor of a large church plant, successful ministry, growing congregation - but a tragic loss shakes his faith and results in a fall from grace. The Elders encourage him to take some time away to reevaluate his role as pastor of the church. A trip to Italy to visit his uncle, a Franciscan priest, introduces him to the world of St. Francis of Assisi. Falson realizes that he has a lot to learn from Francis. His pilgrimage leads him to reevaluate his view of his own faith and that of contemporary American Christianity.

As someone who's been involved in Christian ministry (I'm a third generation pastor's wife), I've witnessed first-hand the stresses, frustrations, and danger of potential ministry burnout. Part of what drew me to this story was the fact that it was the story of a burned out pastor wanting to get in touch with an authentic, growing faith. It's easy to get cynical when dealing with the stresses of ministry on a daily basis. Francis' story is helpful reminder that the Christian faith is about authentic living. One of the most admirable things I learned about Francis is that he genuinely sought to live out Christ's commands. He was a peacemaker, a nature-lover, and took seriously to mission to communicate the message of Christ in a way that the common man could understand.

The book also features a "Pilgrim's Guide" to allow the reader to work through his/her own pilgrimage while reading the story.

Whether you've grown up learning about St. Francis of Assisi or if, like me, you're largely unfamiliar with his story, Chasing Francis is an enjoyable/educational novel. The author does a great job of weaving the biography of Francis into the narrative. Cron does a great job of sharing Francis' story and encouraging the reader to pick up where he left off.



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