Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale
By Ian Morgan Cron
07 May 2013 (reprint edition)
Who doesn’t like a pilgrim’s tale? And a pilgrim’s tale about a man who’s already a pastor? How interesting. Chasing Francis is about Chase Falson, the pastor of a mega-church in New England, who loses his faith and travels to Italy to spend time with some strange Franciscan monks. He follows in St. Francis’s footsteps in order to regain the faith he lost. (And don’t I missed think that play on words in the title, Mr. Cron. Very funny.)
Honestly, I was intrigued. And then, not even twenty pages in, when Chase’s psychiatrist tells him to watch The Truman Show—“The Jim Carrey flick?” Chase asks—I thought I was hooked. That movie is one of my dad’s favorites, if not because it’s really exactly a good, well-made movie, but because he feels like Truman often enough for it to be relatable.
Unfortunately, not even ten pages later, I read the sentence, “Nor do I doubt that the Jesus who wooed and won my heart… is still real.” And then, not even ten pages after that, “‘I can’t go on like this… I’m sure there’s another Jesus I haven’t met yet. How on earth do I find him?'” I couldn’t help but think, He still has faith. This isn’t a pilgrimage. At least, not the kind of pilgrimage I want to read. I got almost 60 pages in before I had to put the book down; Chase sees himself in the frescoed panels on the wall of a church and… feels. What? Like, he lost his faith for two minutes and got it back (more or less) while standing in a church in Italy? Really?
I don’t know. It’s not what I wanted to read. It’s not bad writing, and it’s not a poor storyline, from what I can tell. It’s just… not the kind of journey I was hoping for Chase to have. He never really really lost his faith—he just knows that Jesus is out there somewhere, and he (Chase) just has to find him (again) in order to rekindle the flame of belief.
I read the rest of the book, but after those 60 pages, it was more out of obligation than excitement. I was happy to read Chasing Francis at first, because it had so much potential. But if I thought the story would speak to me on a deeper level, I was wrong. And if I want to read about St. Francis again in the future, I’ll just pick up a biography.
DISCLAIMER: I received Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale free from Zondervan Publishers for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.