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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007
    A melancholic muses on the nature of pilgrimage
     
    Spent a good afternoon in a Holloway pub making plans with Jonathan for our August Iona pilgrimage. Then a train journey home punctuated by James Attlee's own ponderings, in Isolarion, on the nature of pilgrimage. He makes the distinction between the physical pilgrimage and the allegorical pilgrimage.

    The former is a journey to a 'holy place' where the journey is incidental - it's the arriving which matters. His mate Wes (who has published on this subject) says this is the Catholic approach. The latter - provoked by the Protestant work ethic - is an 'internal' journey where the whole of life is a pilgrimage because every minute matters, as in Bunyan:

    "Yes, Pilgrim's Progress is the ultimate Protestant pilgrimage text. The Protestant model of writing is that everything is connected and everything is meaningful; this can be both liberating and oppressive ... [It can also be] a symptom of melancholia. Internalised, withdrawn, brooding on the meaning of life, the sense that what is real is what is going on in your head rather than out in the world..."

    Well, that explains my state of mind most days. But hang on, what about Heaven in Ordinary? If every place is potentially a holy place, potentially a place of pilgrimage then the boundary between the physical and the allegorical begins to blur....