I reread The Pilgrim’s Progress for the first time in about twenty years this summer. What an interesting experience to revisit a book that was had such a big influence on Christianity and my own theology as a little girl. Our church had a small library and I would choose a book to read whilst the sermon was going on. I chose Pilgrim’s Progress over and over again.
The stories were written in the 1600s and so there are problematic attitudes towards women and black people as you’d expect. Also, the attitude towards suffering stood out to me. Suffering was not only expected and accepted, but also quite glamourised and I still see this attitude reflected in my friends and family who are Christians today, with even innocent pleasures (and most are) being viewed with hostility and suspicion.
There are however some five hundred year old life lessons that seem pretty solid to me … like not taking shortcuts, what to do when we suffer from despair and being persistent and patient when faced with a challenge.
This seems like good advice too:
“If a man would live well, let him fetch his last day to him, and make it always his company keeper.”
— John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress.