This month we published Contemporary Christian Travel by Amos S. Ron and Dallen J. Timothy. In this post the authors answer some questions about the inspiration behind the book and their experience putting it together.
What were your motivations in writing this book?
We have some motivations in common, as well as some individual ones. We both love religions in general, as they reveal a great deal about cultures and people, and their encounters with deity and nature. We have an awareness of the magnitude and impact of faith-based travel in general, and Christian faith-based travel in particular, which is an increasingly important phenomenon worldwide. We wanted to highlight that Christianity is diverse with many different denominations practicing their own versions of pilgrimage and manifesting in different patterns of travel, products and destinations. We also enjoy gaining knowledge and sharing it with others, which is why we decided to write this book to fill an academic gap as regards one of the largest faiths on the planet.
An additional motivation was to create a dialogue and understanding within Christianity, which seems to be important, albeit somewhat lacking, in our world. We believe that this book has the potential to contribute to this goal.
In my case (Amos), working on such a book is less obvious because I am not even Christian. However, my professional background is very relevant. Apart from my academic career in cultural geography and tourism studies, I have been guiding Christian pilgrims through the Holy Land for decades, and often these encounters encouraged me to know more. For example, I once guided an evangelical group that came on their pilgrimage with suitcases full of medications to give away to needy locals. At the end of the tour, I had boxloads of medications in the back of my car. Through this event and others I became more interested in humanitarian needs and volunteer tourism.
In my case (Dallen), I am a devout Christian and have personally undertaken spiritually-oriented travel that I found to be uplifting, enjoyable and relevant. I have many friends and colleagues of many different religions throughout the world. I also have numerous friends who belong to many different Christian denominations. I have spent years trying to understand different churches’ doctrines and practices associated with religiously-motivated travel, relationships with deity, the earth and other sojourners. Amos and I have been researching religion and tourism separately for many years and together for the past 12 years. There is always more to learn; this book represents a step in the right direction toward providing a deeper understanding of how religion simultaneously venerates, blesses, consumes and commercializes sacred places.
Did you enjoy writing it?
We definitely did. It took us a number of years to gather all of the information we needed and many site visits in order to experience Christian tourism for ourselves first hand. One of the reasons we enjoyed writing the book was the fact that this book is different, unique. It is not ‘more of the same’, and so far, the reviewers have agreed with us.
How was it to work together?
A pleasure. A very positive experience. Writing with others can be challenging, but for us it was easy, as we think in much the same way.
How will the Christian travel market accept this book?
We will find out, but we think that in addition to the academic aspects of this book, it is relevant to the Christian faith-based travel industry for the purpose of developing new markets, understanding consumers’ experiences, and connecting supply with demand.
For more information about this book please see our website.
If you found this interesting, you might also like Tourism and Religion edited by Richard Butler and Wantanee Suntikul.