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Francis: A Saint's Way by James Cowan

Francis: A Saint's Way

by James Cowan

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James Cowan lived in Italy for three years walking in the footsteps of Francis, following his journeys, breathing his air and sleeping in his caves and grottoes. He discovered a man who, in a sense, de-institutionalised the medieval Church, who represented a mystical Christian tradition and stood up to leaders and theologians and all the great citadels of monastic influence This attempt to enter into the spirit of Francis as also a celebration of Italy and its ability to inspire the imagination. (Amazon.com review)

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  societystf | Mar 31, 2016 |
James Cowan lived in Umbria for three years researching and writing A Saint’s Way. The resulting book is rich in a sense of place: the places haunted by Francis.
As an Australian, Cowan also brings to this book a sense of desert spirituality. Aborigines invest a place with sacred meaning to remember the spiritual experience that the place engendered. This sensibility works quite well as Cowan tries to read the deeper psychological experience of Francis from the places themselves.
James Cowan believes that the contribution of Francis was to develop an individual spirituality, and to forge the way for Western Christians (and others) to take responsibility for their own spiritual journeys. He traces the way that this individual inner experience can liberate a person from the hierarchy of the church.
“This strikes a chord with many of us today as we try to negotiate for ourselves a genuine inner life not necessarily sanctioned by one philosophy or religion.” (p. 170)
The strength of Francis: A Saint’s Way is Cowan’s willingness to enter deeply into the mindset of Francis and show afresh the insights that Francis achieved. In doing so, however, it reads a modernity back into Francis that is not justified. Francis was more a man of his time, and more a loyal son of the Church than Cowan describes.
What this reveals is how Francis appeals to so many people and that the richness of his life is not likely to be exhausted. ( )
  TedWitham | Oct 1, 2009 |
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