What happens when a Christian publisher with charismatic, evangelical, Anglican roots embarks on a Catholic pilgrimage? Tony Collins (of Monarch Books and Lion Hudson) took a month and two days to walk from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to the west coast of Spain, the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Camino de Santiago is four-hundred-and-ninety mile journey across the hills of Northern Spain. In Taking My God for a Walk, Collins recounts the journey—sharing his reflections on pilgrimage and the people and places he met along the way.
The book provides a chronology of Collins’s pilgrimage, each chapter, a journal entry of a days or two’s walk, recounting the sights, sensations and encounters. He relays the hardness of the path, his conversations with fellow pilgrims and the way made by walking. This is a travelogue describing Collins three-fold journey: a journey of cultural discovery of the sights, tastes and culture of Northern Spain, a historic journey into the politics and demographics of the region, and spiritual journey undertook to seek ‘sources of reverence'(17-18). He meets God on the pilgrim road and is profoundly impacted by this journey.
I was interested in this book because the pastor of the church I am attending, recently came back from the Camino and came back with fascinating stories about her journey (which made their way into many sermon illustrations). Collins walked the same path. He weaves his theological musings with descriptions of towns and countryside, and particular interest in the friends forged along the way.
I enjoyed reading about Collins reflections on life and faith, his embarrassment (early on) of the impropriety of having a traveling companion called his ‘girlfriend,’ the ways he braved boredom and bed bugs as he sought out the gifts of the journey. I enjoyed the book without necessarily finding it a compelling read. I found I could only read it in fits and starts. I don’t think this Collins fault. He is a good writer, witty, observant,insightful. But pilgrimage unfolds circumspectly. He walks the way of St. James and meets God in the walking and at the culmination of his journey. I give this book three and a half stars.
Note: I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. Monarch Books is an imprint of Lion Hudson and is distributed by Kregel in the United States.