What Can Catholics Learn from The Pilgrim's Progress?

I’m currently reading an old copy of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

I was wondering, of what benefit would reading this old Puritan work be to modern Catholics?

How far off is he from Catholic thought?

What does it say about the Puritan movement, and how can Catholics relate to this?


Just keep on reading 'til you get to the end. You’ll find the name of a certain demon very interesting :wink:

Sir, I gotta tell you, I finished the book and had no clue what you were talking about. So, I went through it again and found nothing that overtly caught my attention. On my third reading, I wondered if my mind was so torpid and dull that I couldn’t perceive some sort of cleverness in the allegory that you were warning me about.

Then I went to the internet to learn that the copy I picked up at a yard sale is a very neutered version. There will be no Giant Popes for me. :D… :rotfl:

I am disappointed, but it is comforting to know the book isn’t supposed as insipid as it read.

But I’d be interested to hear what you think a Catholic could take from this book?

Catholics learn NOTHING from this anti-Catholic ‘classic’. The Lives of the Saints are far more enlightening.

Well, from the perspective of literary history it is an important book, so there would be something to be gained there.

It is also a very interesting historical snapshot of how some Protestants really viewed the world at that time. It is always a good thing to try to really understand the world-view of other people.

My thoughts as well. :wink: I have a good old copy and think it is well written. It could hardly be considered an English Classic if it weren’t. It is 95% good Christian piety, although there is undoubtedly an anti-Catholic bias, but that is reflective of the writer and his audience, as it was never meant as a polemical piece. :slight_smile:

I find it interesting and regretable that modern editions of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott leave out entire sections in which the heroine, Jo March, reads Pilgrim’s Progress and takes its lessons to heart. Understanding that work, which was as much a part of the upbringing of young Christians in her time and place–New England–is essential to understanding her voice and the milieu in which the author grew up. The excision of these sections while understandable in a time when PP is unknown to young audiences, is regretable and deprives the reader of understanding many of the heroine’s dilemmas and decisions, and the fact that she regarded her own struggle with personal demons, like her temper, as analogies to PP.

THis kind of thing makes me angry. One of the best ways to read, IMO, is to follow the chain of literature. One can read Little Women, and find out about this book that so influenced someone else, and then actually go looking for it. Sometimes it seems as if people think literature and also movies and tv can only feed into what kids (and adults) already know. What a horrible thought, that we would only be interested in what we already know about!

Here is this Christian’s [Catholic] opinion:

A much better read would be C. S. Lewis’ “Pilgrims Regress” and “The Screwtape Letters” …

if the question were asked on the spirituality forum I would answer that time could better be spent on reading works of classic Catholic spiritual direction

since the question is asked on the apologetics forum, my answer is that for anyone engaged in apologetics with people in a Protestant tradition with English and American roots, PP is essential for understanding how puritan thought became engrained in Victorian Protestant spirituality as it expresses the undeniable influence of the Puritan version of the Calvinist/reformed strain that remained in the Anglican church and in movements she spawned such as Methodist and Baptist. An in particular in understanding the development of mainstream Protestant thought in American and particularly in New England. Understanding Alcott, her family, the Transcendtalists etc is incomprehensible without reading PP and knowing the extent of its influence. It is a particularly puritan version of the individual’s spiritual journey and if you want to understand for instance, strains in Catholicism ie Jansenims that reflected current spiritual ideas of the same era, you should read PP. Also anyone interested in English literature must be familiar with both the KJV and PP.

I think too though it has a relationship with all the descriptions of spiritual journeys you will find in Christian literature, and especially the more ascetic ones. It is a very interesting comparison/contrast with, for example, the journey in the Divine Comedy.

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