Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron is a combination novel/mini-biography of St. Francis of Assisi. At the beginning of the study guide included in the back, Cron writes, "Chasing Francis is written in a genre called wisdom literature, which is a delicate balance of fiction and non-fiction, pilgrimage and teaching." I had never heard of wisdom literature outside of ancient texts, but after reading Chasing Francis, I found myself wishing there were more examples in the modern world.

Using the meltdown, pilgrimage, and restoration of the faith of his main character, Pastor Chase Falson, Cron gives the reader a look into the life of St. Francis. Chase finds many similarities between the state of the church during Assisi's time and how it related to the world, and the state of the church and how it relates to the world today. Assisi and his teachings were thought to be radical and out of touch with the establishment of his day, but his willingness to simply take what Scripture says and obey it without trying to find a deeper meaning, drew thousands and helped renew their faith in, and relationship with, their Creator. This resonates with Chase who experiences his own restoration through learning about St. Francis.

The story of a pastor burning out and finding restoration is an effective vehicle to teach the reader about St. Francis, which is what Cron was intending to do from the beginning. There are large excerpts from many books about St. Francis, and much of the dialogue is about his life as well. The way it is intertwined with the story is seamless and not at all burdensome. In the back, Cron provides a chapter by chapter study guide that the reader can use to further study the life of St. Francis, and see how what he believed can impact his/her life. There is also an extensive bibliography included for anyone interested in reading other works about him.

Chasing Francis provides an enjoyable reading experience that includes the profound insight and sharp wit that made Cron's memoir Jesus, the CIA, My Father, and Me a bestseller. Coupled with the life and lessons of one of the church's most beloved saints, I'd recommend Chasing Francis to just about anyone. It will appeal to readers of various genres, and at barely over 200 pages, is definitely worth the investment.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255