Booking It with The Pilgrim’s Progress

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This year we’re Booking It on LifeasMOM. It’s an online book club designed to get you off the computer, phone, and boob tube and into a book. Reading is an adventure! You learned this long ago. But, in our older years, it is tempting to forget.

On the 10th of each month, we’re discussing an assigned book, one of the Eleven List. On the 11th there’s a link up opportunity to share all your reading of the past month.

This month’s assigned reading was the classic John Bunyan allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. In all my years of literature classes, this book was never required. I was a childhood fan of Little Women, and though Bunyan’s book plays a big role in that book, I never hunted it down. And while I had read the children’s adaptation, Dangerous Journey, to my kids, I had never tackled “the real deal” before.

And to be honest, I was a little intimidated. The version I downloaded from Kindle included a very lengthy (and boring) Introduction and it went on for so long, I wondered if that was the book. Thankful to use the forward button, I skipped the rest of it, and jumped into the story.

Yea, though I skip introductions and forsake thy reading of directions, I shall conquer this book.

And I did.

Small Bites

One of the reasons that I am comfortable with my children reading adaptations of classic books is that it helps lay a foundation for them to understand the work in greater detail later in life. My own reading of The Pilgrim’s Progress this month confirmed this. Though the older English is not difficult, I think my journey with Christian was made easier since I knew the basic outline of the story before hand.

The story tells the tale of Christian and how he comes to faith in Jesus and journeys to the Celestial City, facing trials, tribulations, and enemies along the way. Allegorical in nature, the tale takes place in a few days or weeks, though we know that a christian’s journey takes a lifetime.

In his travels, the main character, Christian, meets all kinds of people, good and bad. There are those who love the Lord of the Celestial City and those who are His enemies.

In my reading I realized that it’s all too easy to think, I’m so glad I’m not Sloth, Talkative, or Pliable. I’ve known people like that. They were total jerks.

Isn’t that how it is? We see a distasteful character and are so glad that we’re not like them. Or they remind us of someone else and we get a little snitty.

And then we think about it and see the cold, hard truth. In actuality, I’ve been each of those people at some point in my life.

But God…

But God is at work changing me, making me more into the image of His Son, granting me victory over my weaknesses, because of who He is.

And I think Bunyan overlooks some of that in Christian’s tale. Bunyan focuses on sin and repentance, but perhaps he doesn’t emphasize enough the beauty of the burden falling off Christian’s back.

Christian’s journey is a hard one, like the life of a believer often is. But, there is great joy, knowing that we are children of the king.

I didn’t see so much of that in this book. Instead, I got a sense of dread and contrition while reading of Christian’s journey. Is the Christian walk devoid of joy? Absolutely not. But, I don’t know that we see that in this book.

Reading Too Much Into It?

Yeah, that’s what hubs said. So, I’m taking things with a grain of salt.

It’s a good book, and I can see lots of wonderfully drawn parallels between story and reality. But, that is the thing to remember. This is story. It’s not the Bible. It’s an allegory. It’s not meant to be a perfect picture of God’s world. Bunyan’s life, experience, and time within history are very different than mine, and so how he processed truth into story will also be different.

What did YOU think?

Tomorrow we’ll talk about all kinds of books, but today, share your thoughts or links on The Pilgrim’s Progress.


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  1. I started it (the free Kindle version on my computer), but I honestly had a hard time getting into it. It like it’s one of those books that every Believer feels like they need to read (or if they haven’t or they don’t – there is some sort of guilt). But I just couldn’t get into it – however, it’s still loaded up and I still plan to finish it, just because I’m the kind of person who can’t start a book and then not finish it. It’s the OCD in me. 🙂 Looking forward to linking up tomorrow though – I think I really found a winner! 😀

    1. @Carrie, I totally get you on the “should read” aspect of this. By reading this and Mere Christianity, I’m dispelling some of those myths.

      1. @Jessica Fisher, Mere Christianity to me, truly is a “must read” for Christians, as well as agnostics or atheists. I was fortunate enough to read this through about 12 years ago for a Bible study and I’m so glad I did! It amazes me every time I open it. The chapter on Christian Marriage literally saved mine when I was having huge emotional problems the 2nd year of our marriage. I thank God for C.S. Lewis’ writings.

        1. @Regina, I can see that. I really did enjoy that book and it got me thinking in wonderful ways about the Faith. In my comment above, I just meant that I felt guilty all these years because I hadn’t read it. I think in some circles, there’s this list of books that if you haven’t read them, then you’re lacking. Hope that makes sense.

  2. I was curious to see what your review of this book would be. I need to read it as an adult, but having grown up in a Christian home & school, I read it several times as a youngster. I always secretly hated this book, even though teachers & preachers would wax eloquent on how amazing it was. I think what you said about joy and dread nailed my feelings about it on the head. I always experienced hopelessness and dread, even though he did manage to make it to the cross and drop his burden. Also, there didn’t seem to be any talk of grace. It all seemed to hinge on Christian and what he could or couldn’t do, instead of the amazing blessing that God rescues/saves us, and if we cry out for help He is always there to help us. So, even though I’m rusty on the details, that is the over-all impression I was left with. I have it sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to read it again someday. Maybe I will 🙂

    1. @Regina, some other commenters have mentioned that Christiana’s story is different. Have you read that?

  3. I’ll admit it — I tried and couldn’t get through it. I’m going to try again later.

    It’s funny you mentioned Little Women — I wanted to like it so much because of that!

    1. @Lucky, I went ahead and downloaded a free copy of Little Women and am now bawling my way through — when I should be editing my cookbook!