M. Craig Barnes, Searching for Home; Spirituality for Restless Souls (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2003), 191pp.
Craig Barnes served as the pastor of National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. from 1993-2002, after which he taught as a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Today he continues in that role but also serves as pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. After studies at Kings College in New York and Princeton Seminary, he completed a PhD in church history at the University of Chicago under Martin Marty. All of that to say that he is a rare pastor-scholar who is deeply immersed in the trenches of every day life with his parishioners whom he clearly loves and respects, but equally at home reading sociological texts about American culture or parsing a fine point in history or theology that just might help you to think about something in a different way. If I count correctly, this is Barnes's sixth book, all of which explore just what it means to follow Jesus in our wild and broken world.
In this book he uses Dante's Divine Comedy and the journey toward home metaphor to unpack the pilgrim motif of discipleship. Each chapter begins with a short quote from the Inferno, Purgatory, or Paradise, and then proceeds with Barnes's theological and pastoral reflections, including his own Christian journey. Barnes does a fine job at avoiding cliches, taking the measure of contemporary culture, including a broad diversity of popular and scholarly sources, and drawing upon a fund of insights from pastoral counseling. The book moves us through the stages of Christian journey, from our profound lostness, to awakening, repentance, confession, faith, community, guidance, and sacrament. The truly good news of Jesus, writes Barnes, is that "all of the roads belong to God," and that "the Savior can use any road to bring us home." Quoting CS Lewis, he reminds us that God can even use the wrong roads to take us to the right places (pp. 121, 128).