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Book Review: Saint Francis

August 24, 2010

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I love this Christian Encounters series that Thomas Nelson is producing. And I love whomever is doing the cover art.

I’d been wanting to learn more about Saint Francis for several months, so when I checked in with BookSneeze and found it on the list, I don’t think I even glanced over the other titles available.

All I knew about Francis was the quote, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words,” which is often used as an excuse to not preach the gospel at all – which irritates me, and I couldn’t believe was the saint’s intention – and that he’s always pictured with animals. I’d read one account of his preaching to birds that I hesitated to put much stock in, but that at least explained the strange paintings.

More and more over the past several months I’ve read him lifted up as a model of Christian pacifism, or a symbol of the New Monastics, etc. and I’ve been wanting some truth on the man. Robert West, judging from ten pages of notes and two pages of bibliography at the end of the book, seems to have done his homework.

Some things you didn’t know about Saint Francis:

  1. Before giving his life to the Lord, he was the leader of a medieval gang called the Sons of Babylon. His wealth as the oldest son of a very prosperous fabric dealer made him everyone’s favorite guy to party with.
  2. He was the first person on record to experience the stigmata – the appearance of nail holes/wounds in his hands and feet, and a gash in his side that would occasionally bleed. Some attribute the wounds to a disease he may have been suffering from, but the extreme caution he took in hiding them raises some questions. They were only widely discovered, inspected, and described after his death. I don’t put any kind of faith or merit in the stigmata, but with no precedent it is an interesting concept.

The rest of the book is just a wonderful biography. It’s informative and entertaining, as all good biographies are. At 220 pages it’s no lean project, but it’s so engaging I breezed through it in two days.

Whether or not you’re convinced to become a Franciscan monk, you won’t be able to help but fall in love with Saint Francis. I’m not sure that all of his ideas are as biblical or as necessary as he seemed to think, but there’s no denying that the man loved God and people with all his heart. Neither can the reader deny that Francis was used mightily of God, because of the sacrifices he was willing to make, for restoring passion, dedication, and sacrifice to the Church – Francis continues to do so even today.

Are you a Saint Francis fan? Which dead guys inspire you?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2010 9:33 am

    I like Tozer. Not as dead as Francis, but dead nonetheless. Spent a Saturday a couple weeks ago reading Josephus. That was fun, too.

    • Lex permalink
      August 26, 2010 10:01 am

      Tozer’s one of my favorite dead guys too. What were you reading of Josephus?

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