Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Chasing Francis

Three years ago I read a book by Ian Morgan Cron, Chasing Francis. It takes the form of a novel which charts the loss of faith of a minister of a seemingly successful church, and the spiritual journey that ensues. This involves a trip to Italy to visit his uncle who is a Franciscan priest, where he encounters the teachings of Francis of Assisi and connects with a more ancient way. In the process he regains his faith but not as he knew it.

It is a delightful, imaginative, insightful read, and I made copious notes as I read it.

Why mention it now? Well, yesterday I saw this commendation by Rowan Williams, 'I've now read it twice and found it equally compelling both times. It's a challenging, disarming, and delightful book, and the vision behind it is a serious one. It's a remarkable book'. The Archbishop of Canterbury was speaking at a Fresh Expressions Conference, and he drew out the five principles the book emphasises for the church: transcendence, community, beauty, dignity and meaning, which are well worth pondering.

These are some of the great quotes that I took three years ago:
'The Christian subculture overpromises and underdelivers.'
'In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.'
'The Bible is the story of how God gets back what was always his in the first place. People are looking for a story that can explain the way the world is. I think they’re open to being romanced by the glory of the painting.' 
'All ministry begins at the ragged edges of our own pain.'
'Sometimes God’s presence is most strongly felt in his absence.'
'Finzi’s [an English composer of the last century] Ecologue is lyrical and haunting; it surfaces all the unfulfilled desires of your life.
'I am always brought to tears when I hear a marvellous performance followed by a standing ovation. I feel that at the climax of our cheering, we cross a boundary and unwittingly begin applauding some other reality, a performer we know is there but who cannot be seen. We want to thank Beauty itself.'
'The church is realizing that there is an awareness of God sleeping in the basement of the postmodern imagination and they have to awaken it. The arts can do this. All beauty is subversive; it flies under the radar of people’s critical filters and points them to God.'


jim Gordon said...

Geoff, I didn't know this book. Several of the quotes touch places where I am currently thinking and the tone sounds reassuringly open. Just finished This Sunrise of Wonder as a slow read for the second time. Blessings on your ministry, and your reading.

Sue Barker said...

Thank you Geoff, I read your blog, bought the book and now cannot put it down. And like you have to stop every few pages to write down excellent quotes.

Glen Marshall said...

Looks like one for the holiday reading list. Thanks Geoff.