The Pilgrim's Progress: From This World To That Which Is To Come, John Bunyan (ed. by C.J. Lovik, illus. by Mike Wimmer)
Crossway Books, 2009 (240pgs)
A time-tested work of classic status (originally published in 1678) and the illustrations accompanying this edition of the story are stunning. I read this to my boys through the semester.
OVERVIEW Written in the form of a highly imaginative allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress tells the unforgettable story of Christian and the extreme, soul-threatening dangers he encounters on his journey to the Celestial City. But it is much more than an allegory; in a sense, it is both the personal story of Bunyan and the universal story of anyone who undertakes the same eternal pilgrimage. The result is a masterpiece of literature as well as spiritual truth - a book that one time was loved and read in nearly every home in England and North America, a book that has endured as a classic for more than three centuries.
INTERVIEW WITH MY BOYS Dad:What was your favorite part of the book (what did you enjoy most)? son 2 (age 9):When troll-man captures them. Dad: Do you mean the part with Giant Despair. son2: Yes, that's him son1(age 11): I like when Christian and Hopeful get trapped in the Giant's castle. Dad: You two seem to enjoy the troubling parts, why is that? son2: Cause for some reason in good books they always get out! son1: Because it is fun to see how they escape. Dad: Any other favorite parts? son2: I really like the last chapter where Christian and Hopeful cross the River of Death. Dad: Why? son2: Because sometimes when you are so close to finishing something there is still something in your way. It's like a board game. Dad: How about you son1? son1: When they want to go to sleep but they can't because they are on magic ground and if they went to sleep they would never wake up. Dad: What did that section teach you? son1: To keep on going even if something is tempting.
Dad: Is there anything you didn't enjoy about the book? son1: The only thing I didn't like about it is that the author made it seem long and dreary but it was still a good book. son2: I didn't think there was any bad parts. I thought it was amazing!
Dad: Why should someone read this book? son2: Because somebody tells you to. son1: It helps you understand more things about the Bible.
Dad: What was your favorite illustration in the book? son2: When Christian battles Apollyon. Dad: Why that picture? son2: Because it is cool. There is dark but there is light - like evil against good. Dad: How about you son1? son1: When Christian and Hopeful gaze at the the Celestial City. Dad: Why that picture? son1: Because it is so beautiful and it is a really good painting.
Dad: If you had to rate this book, how many stars out of five would you give it? son1: For a kid I would give it a 2.5 and for an adult a 4.5. Dad: Why so different for a kid and an adult? son1: Because a kid doesn't understand it all as much but a grown-up would. Dad: What if an adult read it to a kid and explained it really well as it was read? son1: It would be a 3.5 then. Dad: How about you son2? son2: I am going to say, for a kid, I would give it a 3 and for an adult a 4.9. Dad: Why do you have them so far apart? son1: Because for a grown-up, they can read it and when they read it they can understand it and know where the different phrases are in the Bible and a kid has a harder time doing that.
A FEW FAVORITE QUOTES
"I advise you to quickly get rid of your burden." Worldly-Wiseman explained, "for you will never be settled in your mind until then, nor will you enter the benefits of the blessings that God has given you."
"That is what I am seeking," said Christian. "I want nothing more than to be rid of this heavy burden. But I cannot free myself from it, nor is there any man in our country who can take it off my shoulders. That is why I am going toward the small gate ahead, as I told you, so that I may be rid of my burden."
"Who told you to go this way to be rid of your burden?"
Christian answered, "He was a man who appeared to be very honorable and great. His name, as I recall, was Evangelist."
"Shame on him for such counsel!" Worldly-Wiseman protested. "There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in the world than the way he has directed you. Look at the difficulty you have experienced already. I can see that you are already covered in dirt from the Swamp of Despond. Listen to me: that swamp is only the beginning of the sorrows and troubles you will find if you follow that way. Hear what I have to say since I am older than you: if you continue on the way that Evangelist has directed, your journey will be attended by weariness, pain, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death! The truth of what I am telling you has been confirmed by many testimonies. Why should a man so carelessly cast himself into such peril by giving heed to a stranger?"
"Why, sir," Christian said, "this burden upon my back is more terrible to me than all the things that you have mentioned. I do not care what I meet with on the way, as long as I can also meet with deliverance from my burden." (pgs. 32-33)
after Faithful is killed...
Now I saw in my dream that Christian did not escape Vanity Fair by himself, for there was with him a man named Hopeful (a name he was given as he watched how Christian and Faithful in their words and in their deeds conducted themselves during all their sufferings at the fair).
Hopeful had joined himself to Christian and entered into a brotherly covenant with him, promising him that he would be his companion for the rest of the journey.
So one died to bear testimony to the truth, and another rose out of his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage. Hopeful also told Christian there were many more men in the fair who would in due course follow after them to the Celestial City. (pg. 140)
Hopeful offers counsel to Christian...
"But as for footmen like you and me, let us never desire to meet with the enemy or presume ourselves able to do better when we hear about the struggles of others. When we hear of others who have been sorely tested, let's not be deluded by thoughts of our own manhood, for those who do so are often the ones who have the worst time of it when they are tested." (pgs. 182-183)