Yes, 5 out of 5 bellybuttons. For only the 2nd time ever (the first being Dallas Willard's The Diving Conspiracy) I give all 5 bellybuttons up. The book is that good.
I've always thought that I didn't get enough out of my books. There are 20 or 30 that I think I should just read over and over, instead of buying new books. So last week I picked up Chasing Francis off my shelf and read it through for a 2nd time. And it's still just as good.
Cron writes one of those semi-fictional accounts like Brian McLaren's New Kind of Christian. And the topic is similar--a New England pastor named Chase Falson blows a fuse about his misgivings concerning Evangelicalism and has a total meltdown in front of his congregation. Chase has been a successful pastor, growing a massive church and doing great things, but has increasingly become cynical about the whole USAmerican evangelical culture. (Sound familiar?)
So the elders give him some time off, and he travels to Italy and with the guidance of his Uncle Kenny, gets to know the little saint from Assisi, Francis. No matter how familiar you are with the story of Saint Francis, this book is worth the read. The newer versions even come with a study guide for individual or group digestion.
But here's the quote that convicted me this time around:
It was the communal example of Francis and his followers, rather than rhetoric, which offered the critique and provided the challenge...For the past few years I've been a self-righteous critic of the church and all of Christendom, and I need to give that up...Maybe I should try to live the gospel without gloss and keep my mouth shut? Chase Falson
I guess I need to say and pray those words myself. A lot. I think I've said it before; one of the most challenging things about Rich Mullins was that while he lived Jesus he loved the church, no matter her shortcomings. I need to give that up myself, and simply live the gospel without gloss.
Like Francis. I hope you read the book.