Book review: Walking Where Jesus Walked

A new book on American Christians and their visits to holy places in Israel is described by reviewer Amos Lassen as “a wonderful example of ethnographic research in the study of religion.”

He is referring to Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Hold Land Pilgrimage by Hillary Kaell (New York University Press).

Kaell, an assistant professor of religion at Concordia University with a doctorate from Harvard, gives readers the results of five years of research into the motives for these visits and reactions to them.

The context is mass-market evangelic and Catholic pilgrimage and American Christian theology and culture over the past half century.

As reviewer Lassen notes, “We are made aware of shifts in Jewish-Christian relations, the growth of small group spirituality, and the development of a Christian leisure industry.”

“One of the fascinating aspects of this book is how these Christian pilgrims, especially women, understand their experiences in light of the Israel/Palestine situation,” he writes.

“ … We become aware of how the Holy Land occupies a powerful place in the American religious imagination, and examine what it means to be Protestant or Catholic in an age of contested modernity.”

The book delves into other issues, seemingly unrelated, such as how the women interviewed deal with aging, loss, and illness.

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