Book Review: Chasing Francis

Book Review: Chasing Francis

About the Book:

What happens when the pastor of a mega church loses his faith?

Pastor Chase Falson has lost his way. When he falls apart, the church elders tell him to go away: as far away as possible. So Pastor Chase crosses the Atlantic to Italy to visit his uncle, a Franciscan priest. There he is introduced to the revolutionary teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi and finds an old, but new way of following Jesus that heals and inspires.

Join Chase on his life-changing journey to Italy where, with a curious group of Franciscan friars, he struggles to resolve his crisis of faith by retracing the footsteps of Francis of Assisi, a saint whose simple way of loving Jesus changed the history of the world.

Bestselling author Ian Morgan Cron masterfully weaves lessons from the life of Saint Francis into the story of Chase Falson as he explores 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.

Book Intro (Teaser):

The first chapter caught my attention and the book never let go…

Here’s how it starts.

“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 carries 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.

 My Thoughts:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.

– Marcel Proust

This is the journey of Pastor Chase Falcon.  Disappointed and disillusioned Pastor Chase sets out to find himself and to see God and life and faith with new eyes.

He takes a pilgrimage, “a way of praying with your feet.”

I resonated with the tale.  I didn’t agree with every supposition in this novel, but I’ve been on this journey.  No, I never followed the footsteps of St. Francis through Italy, but I have had to embrace “the unprotected life” so that I could learn to see with new eyes.  I too have had to find a way to pray with my hands, with my feet, with my life.

Beyond the beauty of the spiritual journey presented within these pages, Ian Morgan Cron is a masterful storyteller.  I laughed out loud at some of Pastor Chase’s presuppositions about Roman Catholics.  I say that as an evangelical myself.  Too many times we are afraid to look at the rich traditions of faith that grew up in the context of the Roman Catholic Church.  Are there theological and practical problems within the Roman Catholic Church?  Yes.  Are there theological and practical problems in the Evangelical Church?  Yes.  Here the author does a masterful job of bridging the gap, not to convince us to “switch sides,” but to demonstrate that God is at work and has been at work in a variety of places and traditions.  Armed with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a shaken but real love for the Word and a desire to see Jesus Christ made real in his life, Pastor Chase begins a journey to learn from people and history found outside of his tradition.  And it changes him.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will tell you that Pastor Chase returns home with a new perspective, believing that “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.“  He is encouraged to “Tell your story with all of its shadow and fog, so people can understand their own [story]” discovering that people today need “a leader who’s authentic, someone trying to figure out how to follow the Lord Jesus in the joy and wreckage of life.”

And while I can’t agree with everything that Saint Francis said and did and believed, I thought the author did an excellent job highlighting applicable life lessons while weaving the history of this man of God into the story of a modern day pastor and the deeper story of the soul.

Insightful, historical, spiritual and comical, Chasing Francis is well deserving of 5 stars.

And the Kindle version is currently on sale at Amazon for just $3.79!

I review for BookSneeze®