Friday, May 11, 2012

A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom: Book Review

"His reflections, written from places of Christian significance around the world, give a sense, as the author puts it, of what it means to have a life in Christ." (back book cover of A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian Life)

James Emery White, author of popular blog Church & Culture, offers his newest contribution to the conversation of one's journey with God from a Biblical, Christian perspective. This pastor, author and adjunct professor from North Carolina combines his love of history, clear thinking and refreshing spirituality taking the reader on a journey about the journey called the Christian life.

Literally writing "on the road", White writes about places with rich religious and historical significance bringing it into contemporary relevance with apparent ease. You can tell he really enjoyed writing this book!

His insights are extremely helpful as well. I found myself dog-earring pages (cringe, I know) so that I wouldn't forget his insights and applications both for myself personally as well as for those I teach and lead.

Places White writes from and about include:

The Eagle and Child Pub, Oxford, England - favorite watering hole for C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien

Iona Abbey, Iona, Scotland

The Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa - Home and prison of Nelson Mandela

The Billy Graham Library, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau, Germany

Thoughts that made impressions on me

My marked page (p. 38) was a list of symptoms you might be experiencing if you are not attending to yourself spiritually. This is worth the book alone. But there's more...

On page 63 he talks about what he calls the "Listening matrix": "A simple but effective set of pursuits that you can take into your tent and with them cultivate a sensitive hearing of the voice of God." This is particularly important to me as I teach about the activities of the disciple-maker. That journey must begin with listening to God.

His discussion about "Shalom" (p. 82) is not just important but added some new thoughts I hadn't ever considered. I had no idea, for example, that in addition to carrying the ideas of peace, health and prosperity, shalom also carries the idea of "completeness." Great stuff here!

One more of my many marked pages was White's discussion on community (particularly in the church). He spends time sharing how and why true community breaks down. Very helpful to those trying to build (or facilitate the growth of) authentic community.

This easy-to-read, yet challenging work is a great read as you build your summer reading list. Add it on and take a journey through the past. It has great potential to impact your future journey. I highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: I received this book from White's assistant with the promise that I would read and write an honest review of the book. I am also distantly related to the author, although we have never corresponded or met.