This Week's Story

Why would Americans in the Thirteen Colonies and a soldier deployed in Iraq read The Pilgrim's Progress? Did they have nothing better to do?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

A Journey from this
World to that....

I hurt inside and tears keep sliding down my face. I’ve been reading Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress. I can’t stand the way Christian and Faithful are being treated. They walked into a town with a fair in a rough ghetto. Little shops sold destructive temptations, which the two men refused to buy.

One seller asked, “What are you willing to buy?”

They answered, “We buy the truth.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh, they’re barbarians. Hit the fools.”

The head of the fair came to settle the trouble. Christian and Faithful were arrested and questioned.They replied, “We are pilgrims and strangers in the world and are on our way to the heavenly Jerusalem.”

Town officials proclaimed, “You are either insane or trying to make trouble.” They smeared mud on the men, beat them, and put them into

an iron cage. People shouted crude insults and the head of the fair laughed. The two men never shouted back, but they were accused of causing a disturbance and put to trial.

Judge Hate-good ordered that Faithful be taken to the execution ground. There he was slashed with knives, pierced with swords, and burned at a stake. Christian later escaped from prison and continued on his journey to Celestial City.

I read that book when I was nine years old. One scene I have not forgotten. On my mind’s screen I see Faithful in the cage sticking to his convictions and suffering, and again I feel pain.

I often hear words or see images from the original book in our popular culture, though the book is rarely read today. It penetrated American culture for many years. I am one of millions of people who have read the story. I find a child’s edition of the book in my home. Its pages are falling apart. When I flip open the book cover, I see the words:

Christmas 1973

To Beth

With love from,

Mama and Daddy

Below are more words.

(Beth wore out a previous edition of this book at four years old.)

How interesting! By age four Beth had worn out her copy and had it replaced. Like me she was drawn into the story and onto Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.

The Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1678 in England. An American soldier in September 2007 on his second deployment in Iraq wrote that the book was hard to read, had a simple allegory, awful poetry, and yet it had qualities that drew it into the heart.

The book enticed its first readers in England. Soon it was being read widely by Americans in the Thirteen Colonies. It helped many to understand their spiritual battles. It wasn’t hard to understand, had funny parts, and made God and the Bible part of everyday survival.

The author, John Bunyan, was in prison in England for several years when he wrote it. He was no murderer or thief, though he had been a big, tough, wild cursing boy who changed mightily. John was sent to prison, because he preached without permission from the Church of England. He had a profound respect for the Bible, and considered it God’s Word. He preached the gospel message of Jesus. His determination to preach earned him about thirteen years in prison and also much time to write many books. The most powerful and influential was Pilgrim’s Progress.

This is Barbara Steiner. Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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