I managed to get a free book based on my willingness to write a review on my blog – no strings attached. In other words, I can say whatever I want about the book and there will be no repercussions. Great idea. So, I will be brutally honest about A Travelers’ Guide to the Kingdom: Journeying through the Christian life by James Emery White (InterVarsity Press).
While God is everywhere, there are places where his presence is felt with greater intensity. I can remember meeting with God at Bear Mountain, high above the Hudson River about 30 miles north of New York city. It was there that God gave me direction and confirmed for me the decision to ask Vanda to be my wife. A place can have significance to a person for personal reasons. James Emery White takes a slightly different approach that is based on the shared history of all Christians.
White is a world traveler. Using the brushes of history, scenery and personal experience, he masterfully paints pictures of places like The Eagle and Child Pub in Oxford, England, where C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien would meet every Tuesday morning for a pint. Each chapter is about one place that holds significance for the history of Christianity that the author uses to help “get a sense of what life in Christ means. Not a life that simply knows about Christ, but a life that is in Christ.” They are places where knowledge and experience have met in profound ways to teach us aspects of true Christianity.
So, the author’s visit to Iona Abbey in Scotland is about the importance of maintaining a connection with what you are becoming in both this world and in the spiritual, unseen world – like in the days of the ancient evangelist Columba. White’s trip to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, where it is believed Moses met with God in the burning bush, is about knowing that God is real and that he has significance for your life. A trek to Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther started the protestant reformation, must be a place that propels us to have the courage of our convictions – convictions given to us by God for a reason.
In all honesty, I’ve found that this book combines history, scenery and biblical principles in a way that educates and inspires. He doesn’t just tell you why the places are significant, he gives thoughtful insight on how they can become significant for you even though they are places you may never get to. And if you do manage to get to any of these places, I know you will feel God’s presence in a greater was as a result.