Saturday, March 28, 2009

Letter to a Young Traveller: 10 Reasons to Travel (a collaborate exercise)

The post on Ten Reasons *not* to Travel was, for some, lost in translation.

To write ten reasons not to travel is NOT to say that there aren't ten reasons TO travel. (Cop them negatives!) 'Twas interesting how many people thought that I believe that travel is out. If you knew me, you would know that this was not true. I like holidays.

I can only assume one of three things:

1. I am lousy at communication (which I will work on).
2. I am as judgmental as some said I am (which I will repent of).
3. I touched on a raw nerve. Or perhaps an idol.

Probably a little of all three. But what makes me think that travel is something of an idol is that no one disagreed or called me judgmental for my post on 10 Reasons *not* to go out for dinner. I think its exactly the same thought at heart. Anyway, it appears that travel is close to the nerve.

So I'm suggesting a collaborative effort.

Let's think up ten reasons TO travel. Suggest them to me. What were your reasons (if you traveled)? You can say anything you like in the comments section (as long as you are kind). Tell me your thoughts. I will process them by Wednesday, by way of my older (more negative) post, and suggest Ten Reasons TO travel.

While you are commenting on Travel, I here now suggest ten good reasons to go out to dinner tonight (provided your intentions be honourable!):
  1. God is created things that is 'pleasing to the eye and good for food.'
  2. God gave bread to 'strengthen man's heart'.
  3. God gave wine to 'gladden the heart of man'.
  4. You like steak. Rare. And with a Red.
  5. You have a favourite place, and you want to go there.
  6. You love someone and you wish to express it. (Date Night?)
  7. You want to express the you are one in Christ with a former enemy.
  8. To celebrate that someone was once lost, and now is found.
  9. Because the Kingdom of God is a great outdoor banquet.
  10. To take a homeless person and treat them like royalty.
Oh, the list could go on.

So -- onto travel: Your reasons for travel, should you wish to tell me?

(Oh, and if you linked to the last post, would you be so kind as to link to this one? Otherwise, its just an exercise in controversy.)

Pic on Flickr by paololivorno.


Justin said...

I'll start:

My initial reason to travel was visit with by brother in Singapore. I traveled with my aging grandfather. It was his last trip overseas before he passed.

But most of my travel now is about taking my wife and kids to visit with their grandparents in Atlanta Georgia.

And I do a little bit of travel for work. But not much.

Et Tu?

Mark said...

Aren't Jesus' disciples commanded to travel (Matt 28:19, Acts 1:8 etc)?! That's a pretty good reason : )

Justin said...

There you go! Brilliant reason. Of course, there is a specific purpose to their travel: to make disciples of all nations.

Other reasons?

Doesn't have to be a 'good' answer to contribute. Just an honest one.

Victor Tavitian said...

Romans 14:24 - Is a command for us all to go to Spain to encourage the believers there.

1 Corinthians 16:4 - Tells us to travel to keep our brothers accountable.

Acts 11:22 - Tells us to travel to investigate claims of conversion amongst people.

Louisa said...

For rest n, renewal and joy! To see God's amazing creation. Sometimes you can do this at home, at other times it's necessary to leave home and enter a separate space to really rejuvenate so as to continue in the faith and in the life you have been called. May I suggest this is particularly so if you are in full time/vocational ministry.

Sharon said...

Hey Justin,

My number one reason recently has been to ride a bicycle somewhere new. Amazing how riding through the French countryside with friends refreshes and energises mind, body and soul. Planning on cycling from Vienna to Budapest this year God - willing. Care to join me? We can attach carriers to the bikes for the children :)

I am enjoying this series of posts

S xxx

Megan said...

Because God is the God of the Nations, and each culture, each people group uniquely reflects His character and His glory (in a broken way, of course). Because travel can teach us that God is bigger than our home countries and communities, that He is the same wherever we are in the world, and that true unity in the gospel transcends people groups--ethnic/cultural/linguistic barriers.

onlinesoph said...

The controversy on your last posts have baffled me! I don't know where the misunderstanding came from, but it is true that travel is an idol for our generation. There is an underlying belief that if you have not traveled widely, you have not lived and aren't a fulfilled person. hmm.

Anyways, reasons to travel:

Both that have been mentioned already are really good.

Another is to understand your home better. Travel puts your city/town in a wider context, and in doing so, you can better serve people at home. (so for example, after my HSC, I went for a trip around china for 2 months. Doing this gave me an appreciation of chinese migrants living in Sydney and what they are leaving behind).

Gav Perkins said...

I occasionally use an older version of your thoughts on travel as an apprentice training discussion paper. Great stuff!
I'm certain that much of the negative reaction is an unthinking assumption that travel is a right and a necessity.
In terms of a good reason to travel...
It can make you a more astute observer of your own home culture... both in terms of what you appreciate... but also in terms of constructive criticism. Of course, this can go too far...and you come home a whining grump!

luke said...

As a wedding photographer, one of my reasons would be to cater to clients who get married out of town or overseas.

Another would be to meet my wife's family, many of whom live in Malta.

Another would be to connect with the narrative of various historical locations with stories that interest me.

Now, I must respond to a couple of things:

* I didn't respond to your "10 reasons not to go out for dinner" post because I didn't see it until I no longer cared to engage with such posts.

* To those who loftily claim to have misunderstood nothing, perhaps it's time to be less immune to cynical negativity for long enough to read something as it might be read by someone else, especially the insinuations that might be read "between the lines".

* It's a nitpick, but the section "I can only assume one of three things" to "Probably a little of all three" is self-contradictory ;)

Thanks for taking up this challenge, Justin. I must confess I'm a little disappointed that you needed your reader's help to come up with 10 good reasons to travel, when 10 bad reasons came to you so easily, but I do appreciate what you've done here... thanks :)

luke said...

@Gav: "I'm certain that much of the negative reaction is an unthinking assumption that travel is a right and a necessity."

Again with the patronising! You Sydney Anglicans just can't help calling people "unthinking" when they disagree, can you?

If my reasons for reacting are not yet sufficiently clear, then you and your ilk are clearly never going to get it, and it seems to be a monumental waste of time to continue attempting to engage with you.

Benjamin Ady said...

The reason for my more recent world travels was "missions work". I didn't used to put it in quotes. (See Mark's comment above)

When I was a kid, the reason my family traveled was for military purposes.

But this is all a bit exhausting. What about traveling 'cause that's where your story takes you, and not stressing too much about the reasons.

Or as Mr. Tolkien has it:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet

(wow--just reading that makes me want to read the whole cycle again. How does he *do* that?)

Julia said...

I must say Justin, I didn't see the controversey...maybe some people "misunderstood" to remain in denial about the ungodly reasons they try to ignore for travelling...

having said that I went to England in 99 with my elderly grandmother (who is incedentally still going strong at nearly 93), because she wanted to go one more time, and because I was the only grandchild at the right age and life stage to go with her. It was a wonderful opportunity!

Anonymous said...

To see the world and creation. To rest, enjoy and delight in it.

Travelling with companions can be a test of patience and character and can build (although sometimes break) friendships/relationships.

Can keep you going when work is tough, knowing there's a little reward/break to look forward to.

See another culture and be amazed at how different and similar everything can be around the world.

Sally Hitchiner said...

I agree with those who didn't see the controversy... you were calling for caution rather than abstenance no?

Anyway, my parents church have committed to pray a lot for a specific Islamic country. They have sent some people out long term to serve there but they also aim to send as many people from the church as possible on small team. short term trips to see the country in order that they might pray more effectively for this country and for the Muslim world in general. I tagged on to one of these trips 10 years ago and it worked for me.

mandy said...

because our world is so interconnected now. your community is not your street or your suburb. it's really your city.or country. or world?

places outside your own city are so accessible - time wise at used to take 6+ months on a ship to get to china. now it's about 10hours by plane.and even money wise - if you're smart, and go cheapo

and because of the net and communications. we know about the rest of the world so curiosity to experience it for ourselves grows. The world comes to us through students coming to study here or through refugees+asylum seekers - so we make friends with people from all over the world - india, china, indonesia, iran, afghanisan, sudan, jordan, thailand, pakistan, japan etc etc (well, that's some of the places my friends come from anyway...) so that whets our appetite to learn about their nations

in the end we may grow to stop travelling and start living. Maybe make our home in one of these places. raise children in a new place, where they will create their own culture as a unique and enriching mix of a lot of influences.

Emma said...


Exactly the same thing happened to me. I went overseas 8 years ago for about 4 weeks. When I came back I wrote an email to some Christian friends, reflecting on my experience. Someone sent it to the Briefing (it was before I worked at Matthias Media), and Greg Clarke shortened it (a LOT) and published it. The main reason I wrote the email was to describe my experience from a Christian perspective and make some suggestions for others who might travel.

When it was published, many people thought I was against all travel (not true). Years later (no exaggeration), I'd meet new people who'd say "Oh, you're Emma Thornett. You wrote that travel article."

It was only a page. Talk about touching a nerve!

Megs said...

i travel in order to see every hue and smell every aroma and meet ever person God has created! (figuratively speaking)
i love travelling - next country shall be number 40 - though these days i'm relatively busy and settled with small children - i miss the freedom to travel.

Leah said...

For crying out loud... these days, all you have to do is place even a small degree of importance or emphasis on something and people scream "IDOL!" in your face.

I think travelling is far more important than eating out. I find it logical more people would complain about someone they perceive to be discouraging travel rather than someone they perceive is discouraging eating out.

Justin said...

Leah, we cry out loud because we hate idolatry. And the fact is that some are not just placing a small amount of importance on it. They place a small amount of importance on dinner (as you say). But not on travel.

Of course, I'll discourage idol worship. On the top of my lungs. And travel can be this. Of course.

But it doesn't have to be. That is the point.

Justin said...

And one other quick thought: I haven't seen anyone scream in anyone's face! That must be horrible. Or kind.

Either way, I dare say that Blogging is not screaming in someone's face!


Anonymous said...

thank you for the info, I never knew that your article had been shortened when I wrote a letter , I do remember though that you cleared the misunderstanding up a bit when our response letters were published. Look on the bright side, even people overseas have heard of you!

Anonymous said...

to learn
to serve
to escape
to teach and proclaim
to taste and see
to grow
to enjoy

looking forward to the collaboration

Andrew said...

Although it's already been said, great reasons to travel are to explore and to escape. To explore as everyone has a horizon, both physical and metaphorical, and everyone loves to push it, although perhaps to varying degrees. To escape as sometimes normal life is stressful or tough or just hard work ("Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.")

Travel is definitely an idol, despite what people say, and that is why you are getting such great reaction to these posts. Keep it up.

Sally Hitchiner said...

I agree with those who said that travel in general is good to experience different cultures. Our understanding of our own context, or more importantly God can be enriched when we see the aspects of his personality brought out by people who are different to us... this is obviously seen most clearly in the church but it's also there outside of it... even if it's just in seeing how need for God is most visible in different cultures. I learn about the God who is beyond my cultural perception of him.

Seeing other people groups and learning about how they think is always a reason to worship God more.

Maybe one way to help keep focussed on God in times of travel is to discipline ourselves to keep a daily journal or blog of what we've seen that makes us worship God today?

Also if God the Son became human within culture, not just an abstract human being in heaven, and was resurrected into a context of culture and language, then all cultures are of interest to God and all cultures can be redeemed.

luke said...

It's unfortunate that so many of you refuse to accept that there might have been reasons to challenge Justin's original post without having travel as an idol. I certainly don't idolise travel (not that I don't struggle with other idols), and I still stand by my objection to what was originally said.

You can't declare certain reasons for travel as invalid without setting yourself up as a judge of which reasons are appropriate and which are inappropriate. Ending up in that place makes you a Pharisee, IMO.

It's great to challenge people to assess their motives for doing things, which I'm sure is all Justin was trying to do, and I've already conceded that his point was a good one. But I maintain that we need to be careful to express these things with clarity rather than losing what we're trying to say in a format that can be too easily misunderstood as a pretext to legalism.

BTW, whoever said that protecting the environment is a great reason not to travel made an excellent point ;)

Justin said...

Luke - I'm interested in your definition of legalism. For something to be legalitic, doesn't there have to be some legislation? A law of some kind? My post doesn't have that.

And I'm also interested in your idea of a Pharisee. The problem with Pharisees is not that they had Torah, but that they didn't actually keep Torah (white washed tombs etc), while burdening people with those laws (that they weren't keeping). Or that they neglected the weightier matters for trivial ones, which of course is a cover up for not keeping the Torah.

Promoting and discussing good motives is neither legalistic nor Pharisaic.

mandy said...

not quite sure what you mean when you say that 'difference' is found 'most clearly' in the church??

do you really think this is true?
I mean, it should be, but is it?

I'm not sure whether our churches are an accurate representation of our city's demographics. The city/suburb is a massive mix/blend of heaps of cultures, and the church seems to be mostly white. (outside the specific ethnic churches). I think.

it'd be cool to see different styles/ways of worship/ways of communicating information etc that reflect our mix of cultures in the west. I think.

Justin said...

Sally has never been to Australia, Mandy.

Paul Brigden said...

I really like Louisa's reasons for travel - rest, renewal and joy. I can't add to that. shanerogerson's point about travelling to teach and proclaim is also accurate. No other comment has so far been able to beat that. Does Justin's post deny any of these reasons? No. So why did I react badly?

1. It touched a nerve (I have done extensive travel - did I do the wrong thing?).

2. Not every point is made fairly.

So now we have four excellent reasons to travel plus 10 reasons not to travel - many of which are excellent.

Sally Hitchiner said...

Ah yes - sorry - I'm a Brit... though I think your comments on the distinction between the demographics of the church and the surrounding culture probably stand here too.

I'm not sure I explained what I meant very well anyway though.

I meant that if the Holy Spirit is at work in the church to help us to understand Christ then we should expect that when I get to know believers of different nationalities and cultures I have potential to gain a richer understanding of God. For example my E Asian friends have a much stronger understanding of God's love of community than I do, my friends in post communist Europe often have a stronger understanding of the God of reconciliation and justice than I do, and my friends in Africa often have a stronger understanding of the joy of God than I do, etc. I went to Dublin last week and there they're a lot more laid back than we are in England, I was reminded of the God who will one day work all things together for good for those who love him... the christians I met there seem to live in a culture that lives in this a lot more readily than mine does.

I guess my assumption is that the General Revelation of God through nature (fallen though it is) is visible to us as christians and this can be also visible in the (broken) image of himself in humanity and in the cultures we create. This should be clearest in the church as we're broken images being sanctified.

Sorry - I don't know if that's just added to the confusion?

Sally Hitchiner said...

No evaluation? No conclusion?

This is all very post-mod of you Justin!!

Andrew Dircks said...

A good reason to travel may also suggest where and how to travel. If building up the body of Christ is (even a part of) someone's travel agenda, then that would mean they'd research and plan where they'll be in church every Sunday of their travels, and also other opportunities for strategic fellowship, and then fit other (r & r) activities around those.

And I'm also keen for more western, educated, mature Christians to go long-term to places where the Christian presence is tiny, and then work hard to build the body of Christ there.