We Make the Road by Walking - Book Review

By Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren invites us on a journey. Over the course of a year, his new book takes the reader through fifty-two chapters, organised into four quarters, that map across the church’s year. The first set of chapters take us up to advent focussing on creation, and the book is structured in such a way that the reader can join the road at any point. Each quarter highlights festivals of the church’s year.

In keeping with the author’s other books the chapters send us on our journey rather than writing up the destination. McLaren has the gift and mission of making the resources of the faith, that could be squirreled away amongst Christian believers, accessible to all: a chapter on miracles encompasses both the faithful and sceptical, encouraging both to see these stories differently, he also opens up Jesus teaching on the afterlife to a critical and illuminating insights in ways that will stimulate discussion and engender a sense of the relevance of such themes. 

The book is designed for sharing, with chapters ending in a set of questions that promote discussion. These benefit from the author’s creative flair, positing original stimuli such as the challenge to choose one aspect of creation – trees, birds, sleep, whatever – and asking ‘If that element of creation were your only Bible, what would it tell you about God’. Such pointers, and the fact that each chapter can be read in a group in a matter of minutes make this an illuminating resource for those seeking to find their way along the road, and McLaren encourages us to find new ways of doing this rather than traditional church activity. In my own church, we are using this as a basis of a ‘virtual home group’ using our Facebook page (so you have to bring your own custard creams). I am also waving it at teachers and RE coordinators as a resource that has much to offer the staff in our church schools, starting from places on the road that will encourage fellow travellers to enjoy the journey.

“We Make the Road” is, at heart, a source of renewal, a road drawn from maps of the past but taking us along diverting trails and roads less travelled. As with any good walk, the consequent view is inspiring.

Huw Thomas
Diocesan Director of Education

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