Pilgrim’s Progress Check-In #1

Hello Readers! PilgrimsButton250

I apologize for being so late in posting this first check in.  This week has been crazy and my laptop battery is totally warped, rendering my computer dysfunctional, and until I get a new one, I can’t get work done when I want and need to!  But this too shall pass :).  Let’s talk about The Pilgrim’s Progress!

I’m really enjoying this book so far!  I’m definitely going to have to go through it with a fine-tooth comb on a second read cause there’s so much under the surface.  The seemingly simple illustrations in this allegorical dream carries so much weight about this journey called life and begs the reader to consider their own journey and what is at the end of it.  It also asks the reader to consider the trials and hardships they are willing to face in order to reach their goals. I’ve been asking myself these questions and some!

I have found myself relating the different characters Christian has been meeting on his journey to people I have met in my own life.  For instance, I’m sure many of us know of someone like Pliable, so easily caught up in the excitement of a new event or adventure but the minute things go south or sour, makes a beeline for home.  Or perhaps you saw yourself in Pliable like I did.

Have you met any of these characters in your own life?

Can you relate to any of the characters so far in the story?

I found Christian’s conversation with Formalist and Hypocrisy pretty interesting.  These two guys who come tumbling over the wall of the Narrow Way insist that it doesn’t matter how they got in as long as they got in while Christian says that the only legitimate way in is through the Gate.

Chr. I walk by the Rule of my Master, you walk by the rude working of your fancies.  You are counted Thieves already by the Lord of the Way, therefore I doubt you will not be found true men at the End of the Way. You come in by yourselves without his Direction; and shall go out by yourselves, without his Mercy.

Yikes!  But then I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Go Christian!’.  His sincerity, passion and honesty is something I definitely admire.  There are obvious theological themes all throughout the book.  There is no mincing of words.  It’s all pretty straight forward.  It got me thinking about the things that I believe, the things that I perhaps haven’t quite fully worked through yet.  And my copy has all these Bible verses in the margins and footnotes on every page!  It’s like a whole study!  No joke, this book is deep!

Were there any conversations got you thinking?  

My favorite bits so far are when Christian’s burden comes off at the Cross and he says:

Thus far did I come laden with my Sin;
Nor could ought ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came hither: What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the Burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blest Cross! blest Sepulchre! blest rather be
The Man that there was put to Shame for me! 

and the part when he comes to the hill called Difficulty and says:

This Hill, though high, I covet to ascend,
The Difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the Way to Life lies here:
Come pluck up Heart, let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the Right Way to go,
Than Wrong, though easy, where the End is Wo. 

I want to memorize both of those :).

What part of the book did you enjoy most this first week?

HOW MANY OF YOU READ THE INTRO?

I’m going to be honest…I have to go back cause I totally skipped it :P.

I can’t wait to know what y’all think of the story so far! Share your comments below!

Happy midweek and happy reading :)

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5 thoughts on “Pilgrim’s Progress Check-In #1

  1. I justtttt finished this passage like, 5 minutes ago! haha. And then immediately came here to finally read this post.

    I have met some of these characters, for sure! Pliable, Hypocrisy/Formality, OBSTINATE. :) And I identify with some as well. I identified with the idea of Legality/Civility in the town of Morality. I struggle with legalism and although my thoughts don’t take me to the point of “oh, pursue legalistic living and your ‘burden’ will be relieved apart from the Cross”, it does play a factor in my life. I thought it was interesting that that particular part involved the burning hill? (i.e. Mt. Sinai?) that turned Christian away from entering Morality. I wasn’t sure what to think about that…granted, I’m not reading all of the biblical references, but I thought it would’ve been much easier for Christian to enter and didn’t quite follow the meaning of that…I guess he just had the Lord looking out for him. :)

    I too liked Christian’s talk with Hypocrisy/Formality and the quote you used. Tough dude! I love how instantly you can see the Lord’s working in his heart and mind. He pulls some of this deep stuff out and you’re thinking, “Mature beyond your faith years, Christian!”.

    I like the idea of Discretion being a “very grave and beautiful young woman” who smiles with “water [standing] in her eyes” at the meeting of Christian.

    “My name is now Christian, but my name at the first was Graceless.” –we finally learn his “original” name!

    At one point (the beginning, ha) I was recapping what I was reading (not anymore, although that would be nice to keep up, wouldn’t it?) and this was an observation I had following Christian’s turning away from the town of Morality for fear of the hill and running into Evangelist:
    “Evangelist begins to reason with Christian with great seriousness. He asks Christian why he turned from the path and Christian outlines his conversation with Worldly. Evangelist then harshly but lovingly rebukes Christian for turning aside and Christian repents. Evangelist encourages Christian by telling him forgiveness for sin is very real, but Christian must realize the severity of what he allowed Worldly to tell him/lead him astray. He instructs Christian to abhor/hate Worldly for turning him aside and for his own choice to listen to W’s counsel. It’s all about abhorring the DOCTRINE that was presented to Christian and turning aside from it. It makes the cross odious to oneself to pursue other means of salvation (ridding his burden “easily” and without deference to Christ’s death). He further explains that the hill = Mt. Sinai of sorts and that Legality would never have been able to get rid of Christian’s burden. Christian is much ashamed and asks if there is anything he can do in turn. Evangelist insures him that he can be forgiven but must walk carefully from then on for worry that one wrong step will ruin him. Christian sets out on his way and is scared to talk to anyone or answer anyone’s questions because he is focused on getting to the gate.
    BREAK: Okay, I pretty much understand what Bunyan is trying to say here…but it sure sounds like Christian is supposed to be fearful and shamed from now on. Is that any way to live your life? Isn’t the soul of Legality such that you are to live in fear that you will be punished for your sins and you need to live as close to a spotless life as you can? It almost appears that Evangelist is counseling Christian to live in this same way—in fear of the future and one misstep. I think Bunyan’s point was rather that it is important to reject bad theology/doctrine that would lead us down a path to Legalism, but it does not change the fact that the only way we can truly change our behavior for the better is to learn from our mistakes and prayerfully move forward. The fear aspect just comes on a bit strong here.”

    WHAT do you think about that? ^^

    I very much identified with Christian’s falling asleep in the arbor, awakening, continuing on his journey and finding that he has misplaced his roll. Not only do I identify misplacing things and the frantic searching for it (finding it and praising God), I identify with that sick feeling of having failed and all the trouble and worry and sadness it has caused. I think every Christian has dealt with that at some point in their life….if they’re allowing the Lord to sanctify them. Poor Christian!
    “He went thus till he came again within sight of the arbor where he sat and slept; but that sight renewed his sorrow the more, by bringing again, even afresh, his evil of sleeping into his mind. Thus, therefore, he now went on, bewailing his sinful sleep, saying, “O wretched man that I am, that I should sleep in the day-time; that I should sleep in the midst of difficulty! that I should so indulge myself, as to use that rest for ease to my flesh which the Lord of the hill hath builded only for the relief of the spirits of pilgrims! How many steps have I taken in vain! Thus it happened to Israel; for their sin they were sent back again by the way of the Red Sea; and I am made to tread those steps with sorrow which I might have trod with delight, had it not been for this sinful sleep. How far might I have been on my way by this time! I am made to tread those steps thrice over which I needed not to have trod but once; yea, also, now I am like to be benighted, for the day is almost spent. Oh that I had not slept!”
    His rejoicing at finding the scroll again was so delightful though. Totally relate.

    Observation: The roll isn’t supposed to be the Bible, is it? It appears to me to be more Bible passages that he has taken to heart to comfort him in times of trouble. What do you think?

    I also like the poetic portions, including the ones you listed. Not only are they meaningful, but they are a nice aside in the general ambling of the book…I put that poorly, but you know what I mean.

    Is the intro Bunyan’s beginning poem? haha. I read that but I will admit I grew weary of it quickly. I had trouble following it at times too, but it was still….helpful? :P

    My fave parts this week: Christian’s losing/finding the roll, his reaction to the Cross at the top of the hill and the sweet fellowship between he and the house of Discretion at the dinner table.

    — “I perceived that He had been a great warrior, and had fought with and slain him that had the power of death, but not without great danger to Himself, which made me love Him the more. For, as they said, and as I believe (said Christian), He did it with the loss of much blood. But that which puts the glory of grace into all He did, was, that He did it out of pure love to this country.”

    —-“I went but a little farther, and I saw One, as I thought in my mind, hang bleeding upon a tree; and the very sight of Him made my burden fall off my back; for I groaned under a very heavy burden, and then it fell down from off me. It was a strange thing to me, for I never saw such a thing before- ”

    —“Pru. Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances, at times, as if they were overcome? Chris. Yes; when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; also when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.”

    Amen.

    Sorry for such a long reply. I could’ve posted about this on my book blog but I just don’t have the wherewithal to be all formal about it. Thank you for the reminder about this book, because I am enjoying it thus far and it’s been far too long since I’ve read it. Look forward to finishing this week’s section! <3

  2. Hi! My holiday has just finished, so I have finally opened the book! Sorry for being late, I’ll try to catch up! I’ve read only the intro, and I really liked it! The verse is smooth and there is a good deal of humor and self-irony in it. It is also a writer’s manifest: it says “I can write in any form I want”. Quite modernistic, right? :) Now on to the story itself!

  3. Sorry, guys, I think I’m dropping out! I’ve been struggling with the book for several days, opening it again and again, but I just can’t get into it. The preaching only irritates me, and the allegories are so obvious and obtrusive that they give me toothache. Maybe I’m just too far from the whole religion thing, I don’t know, but I just don’t want to do this to my brain any more :) Good luck to all the brave and persistent readers that continue with the read-a-long! It was nice you made me start this book anyway, at least now I know it’s totally not for me :)

  4. Pingback: the pilgrim’s progress review | unscripted

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