Friday, October 21, 2016
Book Review: APOSTLE
Over a decade ago, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Tom Bissell's Chasing the Sea, a poignant, informative, and wry account of his travels in Central Asia and the shrinking Aral Sea. Bissell's most recent effort is another travelogue of sorts, Apostle, where he attempts to visit the purported tombs of the Twelve Apostles. He ends up all over the Old World, and in the process of his tourist information guide gives, as all good books of this sort do, an amazing education on a variety of subjects, such as early Christianity, relations between various ethnic groups all over the world, Jewish history, modern issues in developing nations, and how tourists get by in places where they do not speak the language. And Bissell is a participant; the chapter on India and his search for the tomb of Thomas is alone worth buying the book for.
I love books like this; I'm not likely to travel much in my life, but if I did, this is what I would seek to do--not hang out on beaches, but try to find out as much as I could about subjects that interest me. I'm a voracious collector of information, and also have a fair amount of identification with this subject--like the author, I lost the faith as a teen, but remain fascinated with the spread of Christianity and the persons that comprised the early Church. And Bissell's experiences in the Orthodox churches he visited reminded me of my decade as a convert, when I was married, and how new, strange, silly, and awesome it all was at once. This is one of the best books I've read this year.