The curse of Cain

Essay | Travel is not everything we make it out to be
by Warren Cole Smith
Posted 6/29/19, 09:36 am

“We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.” ―Madeleine L’Engle

A key moment in the last presidential campaign came early, in 2015. Hillary Clinton believed one of her political advantages was her long experience on the global stage. The Democratic candidate and the party’s eventual nominee therefore often talked about her tenure as secretary of state. She captured that idea by telling crowds she had visited more than 100 countries.

However, Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of global giant Hewlett-Packard and one of the Republican contenders, had also been on a few airplanes, and she neutralized Clinton’s argument one afternoon in Georgia, one of the early primary states. “Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe,” Fiorina said. “But unlike Hillary Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment.”

The line was clever and effective. It more or less vaporized one of Clinton’s most important campaign talking points, and it signaled that Fiorina could run with the big dogs, rhetorically speaking anyway.

But it also caused me to wonder: Why do we put so much stock in travel? “Join the Navy, see the world” was an old recruiting campaign. Ask any recent college graduate what kind of job they are looking for, and a high percentage will say they want a job that will allow them to travel. In fact, a survey of millennials conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that 70 percent of the respondents said travel is a major reason they work. About 72 percent said that they wanted to visit five continents at least once in their lifetime.

Fiorina’s memo that “flying is an activity, not an accomplishment” had clearly not made it to their desks.

IN ANCIENT TIMES, TRAVEL WAS A CURSE, not a blessing. In fact, the blessings of home and the curse of travel are ideas baked into our cultural imagination. The first road trip came when Adam and Eve rebelled against God: They had to flee the Garden of Eden. When Cain killed his brother Abel, Cain’s punishment was to roam the earth. The Prodigal Son’s rebellion and ingratitude led him to travel. That story ends happily only after the Prodigal returns home. And when the older brother of that story complains that he had not been allowed to take his inheritance and leave, the father rebukes him by reminding him that simply remaining at home was its own reward.

Judeo-Christian literature is not alone in extolling the glories of home and the dangers of travel. In The Odyssey, it takes an event no less traumatic than a war, and the duty it demands, to rip Odysseus from kith and kin, and the entire epic narrative has our hero moving toward a single objective: home.

In these and many other stories, travel is dangerous. The physical dangers were obvious enough: Travel took one away from the protections of home: the constable, the walls of the city, the caring neighbor who would come running at the sound of your alarm. In fact, the word “travel” probably originates in the 14th century with the Old French word travail, which means “work.” The word appears in Middle English as travailen or travelen, which means “to torment, labor, strive, or journey.”

But travel’s hardships were more than physical. Travel was also dangerous to the soul. Odysseus had to face the temptation of the Siren’s song, among many others. Travel took Jesus from His home in Galilee to the wilderness and the temptations of Satan, and ultimately to Jerusalem and his death on the cross.

Travel’s hardships were more than physical. Travel was also dangerous to the soul.

Indeed, one of the classic “road trip” stories of all time is Don Quixote, now considered a high-water mark in the literature of the late Renaissance. The delusional anti-hero of that story “tilts at windmills,” thinks his broken-down horse Rocinante is a noble steed, mistakes prostitutes for ladies of the court, and has his sanity restored only when he returns home.

The message of these stories is clear. Travel was a travail to be avoided. It was—in the case of Cain—punishment or—for Odysseus and Jesus—made necessary by the profound brokenness of the world. If you actually desired travel, as Don Quixote did, you were sick in the head, or the heart, or both.

Is it any wonder, then, that perhaps the most memorable line in one of the most memorable movies of the 20th century is simply this: “There’s no place like home.”

THE RENAISSANCE IS WHEN MANY of our modern notions of travel were born. During the Renaissance it became fashionable for aristocrats and the wealthy—especially among the British upper classes—to travel to significant European cities as capstones to their Oxbridge educations. These so-called “Grand Tours” were not merely to see the sights. It helped prepare young men to take their places as members of the ruling class. The itineraries often included introductions to families of similar standing in the capitals of Europe. Eventually, women also took “The Grand Tour,” sometimes finding spouses, thus creating much intermarrying among the royal families of Europe.

Socialist historian E.P. Thompson said The Grand Tour was vital to perpetuation of the ruling classes. In his influential book The Making of the English Working Class, he writes, “Ruling-class control in the 18th century was primarily a cultural hegemony, and only secondarily an expression of economic or physical (military) power.”

Politics is downstream from culture, and travel allowed the upper classes to accumulate social and cultural capital. It is therefore not surprising that when the Industrial Revolution created a mercantile class of nouveau riche, they too wanted access to that social capital. Travel therefore became a status symbol of the wealthy and an aspiration of the middle class.

By the mid-19th century The Cook’s Tour became a Grand Tour for first the nouveau riche and then the aspirational class. Such tours were arranged by British entrepreneur Thomas Cook, a former Baptist missionary who became a pioneer in the travel and tourism industry. Package tours eventually became a staple of the travel and tourism industry, and they continued to offer the traveler the ancillary benefit of social capital. Elizabeth Currid-Halkett in her book on the “aspirational class,” The Sum of Small Things, said that such “bespoke experiences” offer more than just sight-seeing, even today. “Traveling like this,” she wrote, “has the second-order effect of generating cultural capital and symbolic boundaries and numerous non-pecuniary signifiers of being well-rounded, knowledgeable, and probably interesting at dinner parties.”

People who engage in such travel often talk about the virtues of travel as a broadening experience. We might let the Roman philosopher Seneca stand in for many who have extolled the virtues of travel. Seneca wrote, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”

It becomes harder and harder to experience a real “change of place” if one limits oneself to the standard travel destinations.

Even if what Seneca said is true, one still has to grapple with the fact that so much of travel today has become anything but a “change of place.” For all kinds of good reasons, most of them related to safety and convenience, travel has devolved into a homogenized experience. KFC is in Kazakhstan and Kigali as well as Kentucky. It becomes harder and harder to experience a real “change of place” if one limits oneself to the standard travel destinations.

As The Avett Brothers sing, “All exits look the same.”

FROM OUR 21ST CENTURY VANTAGE POINT, it is easy to see the class consciousness and elitism built-in to The Grand Tour. But for all its class-consciousness, class-segregation, and its overt mission of class-preservation, The Grand Tour at least offered the benefits of an immersive experience for the traveler. The young man on his Grand Tour was, for example, expected to use the language he had previously studied only in books. The relationships he began on such travels he was expected to maintain. The continued well-being of his family and perhaps even his country depended on it. Such travel had a purpose related to one’s calling in life.

Today, though, package tours follow well-trod paths and shield the traveler from experiences that might challenge cultural assumptions. The primary purpose of such travel is to divert, to entertain, to amuse. The buses are air-conditioned, the guides speak English, as do the proprietors of all the restaurants and hotels they visit. Clever shopkeepers from Delhi to Sao Paolo accept American dollars, though you will likely pay a premium price for the privilege. Most Americans gladly accept this “tourist tax” as a cost of convenience. If you’re not careful, you could end up buying souvenirs in Reykavik and Rio made in the same province in China.

One of the more ironic aspects of modern travel is that the convenience it offers mostly erases the possibility of a truly immersive cultural experience. The only people you will have a significant interaction with are your fellow travelers, who will be overwhelmingly your age and social and economic status. (After all, if they were poor, they couldn’t afford the trip. And if they were richer, they would have taken the more expensive trip, with the four-star hotels instead of the three-star ones.)

David Foster Wallace skewered such travel when Harper’s Magazine sent him on a Caribbean cruise, an experience that eventually became one of his most famous essays: “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”:

I now know the difference between straight bingo and Prize-O. I have seen fluorescent luggage and fluorescent sunglasses and fluorescent pince-nez and over twenty different makes of rubber thong. I have heard steel drums and eaten conch fritters and watched a woman in silver lame projectile-vomit inside a glass elevator.

He concludes his essay:

Some weeks before I underwent my own Luxury Cruise, a sixteen-year-old male did a half gainer off the upper deck of a Megaship. The news version of the suicide was that it had been an unhappy adolescent love thing, a ship-board romance gone bad. But I think part of it was something no news story could cover. There’s something about a mass-market Luxury Cruise that’s unbearably sad.

Don DeLillo has a telling scene about travel and tourism near the beginning of what may be his most famous novel, White Noise. In the countryside is a barn touted as “The Most Photographed Barn in America.” Signs proclaiming so abound for miles around. Upon reading this passage it is easy to conjure the real-life signs that say “See Rock City” or “The Big Texan” or “South of the Border” in real-life 21st century America. When the narrator and his friend Murray arrive, they encounter a barn of no particular distinctiveness or beauty. The only unusual features are the “forty cars and a tour bus in the makeshift parking lot”:

We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras: some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides—pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

“No one sees the barn,” he finally said.

A long silence followed.

“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated spot, replaced at once by others.

“We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies. … Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.

PERHAPS THE MOST OBVIOUS PLACE to see tourism masquerading as a religious experience is in a modern phenomenon of the evangelical church: the short-term mission trip.

Robert Priest, a professor of mission and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has studied the growth in short-term mission projects. Priest said “the number of lay people in the United States involved in short-term missions grew from an estimated 540 in 1965 to 22,000 in 1979. By 1989 it had grown to an estimated 120,000. Three years later the figure had doubled to 250,000. It is now estimated that there are at least a million “short-termers” each year.

A significant reason for the explosive growth in short-term mission trips is the growth of what some have called the “Christian Industrial Complex,” a for-profit industry that has the church and church members a lucrative marketplace. For example, today, “Christian” travel agents and tour companies specialize in trips to Israel, or mission trips to parts of the world near and far. These companies are adept at offering discounts and free accommodations to the tour organizers, often pastors and youth ministers who would not otherwise be able to afford such trips. Thus incentivized, church leaders become highly effective local, on-the-ground sales people for their trips.

A significant reason for the explosive growth in short-term mission trips is the growth of what some have called the “Christian Industrial Complex.”

Priest is critical of these short-term mission trips, saying they are more about sight-seeing than service. “The shift to short-term missions is significant,” he wrote. “It may be the first mission movement in church history that is based largely on the needs of the missionary.”

In fact, Bob Lupton believes these short-term mission trips have a detrimental effect. Lupton spent a career ministering to the poor, mostly in inner-city Atlanta. His books Theirs Is the Kingdom and Toxic Charity have become must-reads for those who work in Christian philanthropy.

Lupton writes that his eyes were opened on a trip to Nicaragua. He said Americans would pay thousands of dollars to come to Nicaragua to help build a church or run a weeklong camp for children. The money spent on airfare alone would have supported local workers for many months, even years. Lupton’s tour guide, Juan, upon close questioning by Lupton, admitted that churches that had partnerships with U.S. churches were “destroying the initiative of the people.” According to Lupton, “Entrepreneurship declines as dollars and free resources flood in. People become conditioned to wait for the next mission group to arrive instead of doing the work to build their businesses.” He said the net effect is that dignity is eroded and people come to view themselves as charity cases for wealthy visitors.

Lupton concluded: “Nicaragua has disturbed me. It calls into question the way the Western church does mission. Sure we know better than to spoil a culture with our kindness. We know that doing for others what they can do for themselves is fundamentally hurtful—to both giver and recipient. We must find a better way.”

GIVEN THIS OBSESSION WITH TRAVEL, with movement, it is not unreasonable to ask: What are we running from? What are we searching for?

Henry David Thoreau asked such questions. He was at the center of what was perhaps America’s first indigenous literary and philosophical movements: transcendentalism. Thoreau was also one of America’s first travel writers. One of his first works was “A Walk to Wachusett,” published in 1843 in The Boston Miscellany. It recounts a short walking trip from his home in Concord, Mass., to the summit of Mount Wachusett. Other travel narratives followed, including “A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers,” “An Excursion to Canada,” and the book that some consider a rival to Walden as his masterwork: The Maine Woods.

Thoreau occasionally praised travel. “Methinks that moment my legs begin to move, the thoughts begin to flow,” he wrote. However, Thoreau by and large disdained the impulse of America toward movement. He thought that impulse was born of a spiritual restlessness, at best. At times he even conjured images of America as Eden, and our impulse toward movement, especially westward expansion, as an effort to be “as god.” In an 1853 letter to H.G.O. Blake he wrote:

The whole enterprise of this nation, which is not an upward, but a westward one, toward Oregon, California, Japan, &c, is totally devoid of interest to me, whether performed on foot, or by a Pacific railroad. It is not illustrated by a thought; it is not warmed by a sentiment; there is nothing in it which one should lay down his life for, nor even his gloves,—hardly which one should take up a newspaper for. It is perfectly heathenish,—a filibustering toward heaven by the great western route. No; they may go their way to their manifest destiny, which I trust is not mine.

Even in his travel narratives, Thoreau often expressed a longing for home. In The Maine Woods, he commented on the great American restlessness toward the West, and observed that around his own home was many a “lesser Oregon and California” that was “left unexplored behind us … as we have advanced by leaps to the Pacific.”

Even in his travel narratives, Thoreau often expressed a longing for home.

In the end, Thoreau concluded, “We need only travel enough to give our intellects an airing.”

JESUS WAS NOT MUCH OF A TRAVELER. That’s not obvious if you read the Bible only superficially, since He is often on the road. It is also true that we don’t have a reliable record of the so-called “lost years of Jesus,” between age 12, when He traveled with his family to Jerusalem, and age 30, when He began his public ministry. Legends have emerged to fill these years. One legend has him traveling to Tibet, another to Britain. These legends have no historical evidence to support them, and some of them have been fully discredited as fabrications.

In fact, other than Jesus’ trip to Egypt (less than 200 miles from Bethlehem) as an infant to avoid Herod’s slaughter of all children under the age of 2, it is likely that Jesus lived His entire life within a hundred miles of His birthplace, and He lived the vast majority of His life within 25 miles of his parents’ home in Nazareth. If travel broadens the mind, or increases one’s spiritual, intellectual, or emotional depth, if it enlarges one’s empathy for other people and cultures … well, you couldn’t get that from a close look at the life of Jesus.

In fact, Jesus too seemed to view wandering as a sign of the brokenness of the world. When a “teacher of the law” said he wanted to follow Jesus, Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” The life of the sojourner, the pilgrim, the wanderer, Jesus seems to be saying, is one of hardship.

One of Jesus’ journeys is particularly striking. After His resurrection, He appears to two men as they walked the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a distance of just a few miles. When they arrived at the men’s home, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them.” This account is an unmistakable echo of the Last Supper, which Jesus had with His disciples days before. Just then, a remarkable thing happens. When Jesus gave the bread to them, the two men from Emmaus had their eyes opened, and they realized who Jesus was. Jesus disappeared, and the two men were left to explain to each other what had happened. They did so with one of the most beautiful and moving lines in Scripture: “Did not our hearts burn within us.”

Is it merely incidental to the story that the men could not recognize Jesus when He was on the road, but once they arrived home they saw Him for who He was? Perhaps, but is anything in Scripture, especially in a story so carefully wrought, truly “incidental”?

Or consider one of Jesus’ most spectacular miracles, the story of the Gaderene demoniac, the “Man of the Tombs,” a story told in Mark 5. In this story, Jesus heals a man who had been tormented by a “legion” of demons. The man, now “clothed and in his right mind,” understandably wants to follow Jesus. In fact, Mark tells us the man “begged” to go with Jesus.

But Jesus told the man he could best serve by letting those who had seen him before see him now. So Jesus would not let the man follow Him. Instead, Jesus gave the man a simple, direct, but in some ways almost heartbreaking command: “Go home.”

IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Gandalf famously said, “Not all who wander are lost.” He seems to be praising what we might call “purposeful travel.” On the other hand, we have this from the wise Bilbo Baggins: “It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out on the road.”

We live in the tension between these two understandings of travel. The temptation we should avoid is to reduce these reflections to dogma. “Travel is good” or “travel is bad” are not conclusions to which logic or experience or Scripture lead us. Indeed, travel is not forbidden by God, and—from time to time—God bids us: “Go.”

At a minimum, if we do travel, we should travel with our eyes open, not as tourists, but as pilgrims, collecting wisdom, not trinkets and souvenirs.

Still, it seems prudent to have a healthy skepticism about the individual and cultural costs of travel. At a minimum, if we do travel, we should travel with our eyes open, not as tourists, but as pilgrims, collecting wisdom, not trinkets and souvenirs.

And what is the highest wisdom we can collect from our travels? What is the difference between the pilgrim and the tourist? It may be this: The realization that no matter where we go in this great big world, and no matter how many people we see who look and dress and talk differently from ourselves. … Despite all that, we are all the same, we all bear the Imago Dei, the Image of God. We are all broken by the fall.

We all long for home.

Warren Cole Smith

Warren is president of MinistryWatch and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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  •  Becky F's picture
    Becky F
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 10:33 am

    This is very good. Thank you. My husband and I have lived in four different states since his Seminary days, and we have been to cities and rural towns. God's people are everywhere, and America has many mission fields, whether metropolis of millions, or town of 100 surrounded by farmland. People who want to serve as missionaries would do well to be very involved in their local congregation, and to know and love their neighbors and family members. Travel has become so commercialized. Christians can serve Christ anywhere and everywhere, which is why the Reformers focused on vocation.

  • GMR
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 11:26 am

    What excellent thoughts on travel. It seems to boil down to this: "Is this travel my idea or God's?" and "Will this travel glorify God or or simply impress my friends with where I've been?"

    "Abide in me" our Savior says, and "Follow me." 

    What a relief to not be influenced by my friends or by the culture of travel. 

    "Lead me Lord, lead me in thy righteousness. Make my way plain before thy Face, for it is is Thou, Lord, Thou Lord only, who makest me dwell in safety." (Samual S. Wesley) 

  • weinpaul
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 11:51 am

    All you say is true William Cole Smith. But there is so much more. William Wilberforce went on a grand tour of Europe then came back and changed England and the world from his new perspective. College admission officers are pleasantly bored from the sameness of the content of one finding him or herself on youth mission trips. It typically took Jesus five days each way from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the many feasts. Frodo did meet many dangers, but life was not meant to be easy. I remember my family trips to the local ice cream parlor in which we had conversations we never would have had at home and same true of camping trips. Just writing this makes me yearn for travel.

  • RevRick129
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 01:52 pm

    I confess to loving cruises. My wife and I will join 4 friends on an Alaska cruise that leaves in 46 days! Seeing new places brings interest and even wonder sometimes. But perhaps my favorite part of a cruise is to meet the extremely hard-working staff on the ship. While they bless us with their service, we try to bless them with our personal interest and generous tips. I hope it’s a win-win situation.

  • TC
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 02:15 pm

    Great article. Our family does not travel much due to health issues and finances. Sometimes we wonder if we are missing out by not seeing much of the world, but usually that's only because we see other families' vacation pictures on Facebook that tend to promote jealousy. It does seem many we know use vacation trips as a way to escape their realities. "We need to get away," is a favorite line. What do they need to get away from? It always seems sad to me that people feel that need, and are seemingly not enjoying their life at home and with the people around them. May God help us all to be more content wherever we are, whether traveling or not.

  • nsmithcpa
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 08:24 pm

    I believe that quote was from Bilbo, not Sam. And it’s Sam Gamgee, not Gangee. 

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 07/01/2019 09:51 am

    Thank you for pointing out the error. We have corrected it.

  • SL
    Posted: Sat, 06/29/2019 08:51 pm

    One of the commentators here noted that many who travel do so as an escape - looking for a alternate reality, if for a short time.  Even Christians, fixated on the Disneyland’s of the world, literally & figuratively.  Pilgrim knew where his true home was & maybe we should think of travel more in terms of a journey than as an end in itself.  Frodo certainly did & LOTR has clear allegorical overtones parallel to Pilgrims Progress.  

  • CM
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 02:11 am

    The irony of the "short term mission trip" is that most of the church budgets go to fund such adventures, leaving little for the long term missions, where the real work of missions takes place.  There is nothing fun about traveling to Sudan, but the work is important.  The only good reason to travel is because you have something to accomplish when you get to where you are going.  

  • Marilyn Reed
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 07:07 am

    My husband & I have done short term missions to the same island country 11 times over the last 16 years. This country is communist. Entrepreneurship is not legally allowed. We have built relationships with these people that are very special and I have seen renewed hope and encouragment in many of them because they no longer feel forgotten. We take supplies and resources for ministry that they would have no way of affording or obtaining on their own. We like to travel and see new places, but often when we talk about going somewhere, we opt instead to return to our friends. I will admit that our friends have had other mission groups come who seemed more interested in sightseeing than anything else, but I have seen many positive results from short term missions to other countries including being an encouragment to the long-termers who are there. 

  • islander
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 07:49 am

    I do find it interesting to note when I talk to "travellers" is that their lives seem to be lived talking about either the past vacation destination or talking about the next one coming up. It does seem to give off a sense of pursuing perpetual distraction, and I find it hard to bring up conversation with them that stears toward the gospel (but maybe that weakness lies with me). 

  • MK
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 12:47 pm

    Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, the earth showeth forth His handiwork. That view from your apartment window, your local park, your windshield is your view of God's creation. Are you limiting your exposure to His glory by limiting your view?
    Get off the beaten path. Travel. Explore. Open your mind and soul to God's glory. 

  • Lorraine Fritch
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 03:49 pm

    Warren Cole Smith's article seems just a bit cynical toward those who choose to travel.  I can agree with some statements about cruises and short-term mission trips.  However, I know several young adults serving God overseas whose interest in missions was spurred by such a trip.  As for me, I'm crisscrossing the US in an RV -- going places I've always wanted to go and seeing things I've always wanted to see.  Meeting believers and attending churches in small towns across the country is an encouragement to my faith.  Incidentally, travel is not necessarily "a homogenized experience" on the backroads of America.  I'm a solo traveler -- a widow -- and find people to be friendly, kind and helpful.  For me, traveling this way is the best adventure ever and has enriched my life.  Soli Deo gloria.  

  • Dick Friedrich
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 08:05 pm

    Good words. Like most other things, traveling can be an idol or a tool for glorifying God. It's clear our contentment (cf. home, rest) can only be fulfilled through Christ. Yet, trusting in Christ's work on our behalf gives us a "home" we can take anywhere and share with others no matter in what place or circumstances. Further, we have this true home we carry into eternity.   

  • wtgillin
    Posted: Sun, 06/30/2019 11:35 pm

    Warren, what a wonderful article! As a recently retired commercial pilot, I have travelled to 4 continents and many countries. I loved the adventure and exploring new places. While I never took a grand Cook's tour, I did take two bus tours through Israel. That was a great experience, yet the best part was getting to know a Palestinian Christian family in Nazareth. In France, I had the pleasure of spending time with family friends on their farm. In Normandy, I discovered my uncle's name engraved on the Wall of the Missing at the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach (he had been killed in the English Channel when his troop ship was torpedoed). As a history buff, I loved visiting museums and great cathedrals. All in all, I'm thankful that my travels have broadened my perspective. Yet, in all that time away, I longed for deep relationships, and realized the value of developing roots at home.

    I love your closing paragraphs: as pilgrims, collecting wisdom. And that we all bear the Imago Dei, yet are broken. Yes, we long for home, especially our true home when God makes all things new.

    P.S. As someone else pointed out, the LOTR quotes are both by Bilbo. My wife is a bigger Tolkein geek than Tim Keller, and she knows! But thank you for such a thoughtful article!

  • HP
    Posted: Mon, 07/01/2019 09:14 am

    Your points are good and worth considering (although I think the one about the hearts burning within was a stretch too far). However, consider all the commands for travel. Adam and Eve were to populate the world, so were Noah's decendants who disobeyed and were punished at the Tower of Babel. Then Abraham was to leave his country for another and to wander in a future inheritence. The commands to go and tell all nations and peoples, and to take dominion require travel. So while the article does bring up points that are closer too the truth then modern thought, I feel you took a step or two too far travelling this road of thought.

  • AlanE
    Posted: Mon, 07/01/2019 01:17 pm

    Warren,

    Thank you for starting the conversation. It's an interesting mix of comments you've stirred up. I hope we've all had some worthwile thoughts in the wake of this. I know I have.

  •  Peter Allen's picture
    Peter Allen
    Posted: Wed, 07/03/2019 06:24 pm

    Travel is a nuetral force.   Use it for good or bad.  I have been to all 50 states and 15+ countries due to my dad dragging us around on vacations as kids, and my job (most of the international travel).  I have very greatly expanded my understanding of people via travel as long as I avoid the "tourist" experience.  (went to Epcot a few weeks ago as were in area and were greatly disapointed..) 

    My wife and I own a home in Colombia and run a child sponsorship ministry there (happenned by accident.  A God thing).  We avoid short term mission trips based on "service" and insist those who want to travel there to focus on "relationships" instead.  As a result we have little interest.  Almost none from men who miss the point entirely of ministry and simply want to swing a hammer or move a paint brush, (all the while taking dignity from the local men).  I love the book Toxic Charity.  Read it please.  Once again:  Travel is a nuetral force.   Use it for good or bad.  

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