Nov 25

Pilgrimage, with Simon Reeve ★

I had discussed doing the Camino de Santiago with Betsy in the next few years and identified a doctor that I knew well who had done the Camino several times with and without his wife, who has strongly encouraged me to watch this video to help in deciding and planning our pilgrimage. Reeve does not discuss just the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela across northern Spain, but also discusses various pilgrimages in England, especially to Canterbury, as well as the pilgrimage across St. Bernard Pass in Switzerland to Rome, and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

Reeve emphasizes most emphatically that though he grew up a Methodist, he was no longer a person of faith. Yet, while on these pilgrim trails and meeting up with various real pilgrims on the trail, he seemed to have some sort of transcendental experience, whatever that might have been. Pilgrims on the trail were quite split between those doing the walk as a true “religious” experience, and those who were doing it simply to be doing it, or, for the love of getting away and alone with one’s self. All seemed to attest to a transcendental experience. Though Reeve did a modest amount of walking on these pilgrim routes, at no point in time did he seem to seriously attempt a full pilgrim walk of any of these routes, and actually walked only small fractions of the pilgrim treks.

In all, Simon Reeve seemed disingenuous. He was terribly unpersuasive about actually performing a pilgrimage. In pilgrim outposts along the way, the “pilgrims” seemed to be more in tune with a social type pilgrim experience. The final destinations were treated as idols. I have spoken previously about idols of place, and those being locations such as where so-called saints died or labored, the Vatican where St. Peter died, Santiago de Compostela where some of the bones (allegedly) of St. James were housed, and Jerusalem, where Christ was crucified and buried. All of these sites are treated like idols to many worshipers, which is why I presume God made the actual locations of many Christian events, as well as the remains of those events, remain forever lost. It is shameful to treat any location or object as a thing worthy of veneration; pilgrimage to this end would contribute to that idolatry.

Reeve has persuaded me inadvertently to NOT do the Camino de Santiago. I am sure he tried otherwise to glorify the experience of walking where so many others have walked in the past, seeking a blessing or divine religious experience. I would find such an undertaking as being counter to the plain gospel, and nowhere in Scripture is the act of Pilgrimage given as a deed warranting special merit. True, my trail name is Pilgrim. Yet, any and all true Christians are pilgrims. Our journey through life will be as varied as any other. There is no single path in life though there is a single rule to guide us all in that walk. I will do more long walks in life, but will definitely abstain from the pretense of a Pilgrimage to gain merit with the Almighty.

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5 Responses to “Pilgrimage”

  1. Elizabeth of Virginia says:

    A devout Christian friend did the entire hike 2 years ago and will never do it again. Physically she almost didn’t make it. She was calorie-deficient most of the time. She had thought she would be able to spend extended periods in God’s Word and then in meditation on it while walking; in reality she spent much less time in the Bible than usual because of exhaustion and depression.

    • Kenneth Feucht says:

      Such is the truth about anybody hiking the trail. Rehashing Scripture memorization and singing was where my thoughts usually went. Almost always you are too tired to read, though many bring along digital or physical books to read. Depression is a risk that I didn’t experience, mostly because when you weren’t specifically addressing your pain or tiredness, and oftentimes the beauty around you, your mind was more in simple survival mode.

  2. Bruder Dennis says:

    “It is shameful to treat any location or object as a thing worthy of veneration; pilgrimage to this end would contribute to that idolatry. ”

    I agree, of course, but having the engineering and scientific frame of mind, I instinctively seek exceptions to the rule. The closest that scripture seems to come in describing pilgrimages is the annual trek in ancient Israel to Jerusalem for the holy-days (holidays). The Temple was there and it was the ceremonial center for Yahwist worship of YHWH. The focus was not on the journey but the purpose at the destination.

    • Kenneth Feucht says:

      Dennis; if you think about it, your exception is actually not an exception, as even Christ condemned those that revered the ground and building of the temple, rather than their focus on the God of the temple. The focus was not particularly on the destination, but the God of where they were going.

      • Bruder Dennis says:

        Jesus condemned the degeneracy in his time of the observance of laws that YHWH had given Israel, and Jesus did not consider that they had “passed away”. The Law of God did establish the holidays his followers _should_ be celebrating instead of the pagan substitutes, and the Temple _was_ built under God’s instruction, as it was and where it was. For most of Israel, celebration of God’s holidays and use of the Temple required travel.

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