Bernie Anderson
BA blog banner_no text.png

the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Sunday Sermonizing: Don't Be A Tourist


We're standing in line to board a flight from Madrid to Paris, and on to Moscow. The group in front of us is clearly American, boisterous and loud.

And complaining.

Apparently, their Spanish hotel rooms were small. Spanish food was weird, and the people didn't "act right." I listen to their complaints and try to blend into the surroundings, hoping I will not be guilty by association.

But it's too late. We're spotted. The question is asked.

"Where are you from?"

I had to answer with my American accent.


Small talk that I don't remember ensues.

The conversation ends with a question.

"Where are you heading now?"

"Moscow, Russia," I reply.

"They really talk funny there."

I can't even respond and am certain my face expresses the offense I feel on behalf of Russians everywhere.

Thankfully, we have to board the plane and the awkward conversation is ending.


When traveling, we aim to be pilgrims rather than tourists. To blend in and to breathe the diversity. Eat the food. Submerge into the waters. Celebrate the fact we are traveling through a place that's not home but reflects beauty and variety - pieces of perfection, in the context of imperfection.

Tourists do the obvious. Tourist traps. Sight-seeing. Vacationing.

The pilgrim wanders back alleys in China. On purpose. Converses with the people. Makes new friends.

I sit in my church and listen to the speaker quote Eugene Peterson. He's a good person to quote, so worth listening. (I tend to jusdge public speakers by the people they quote, namely because that tells me who they read. Let the speaker beware.) I can't find the quote, but it's something about how church culture is a tourist culture. Not a pilgrim culture. We are consumers. We go to where our needs are met. Where shoppers are given what they want and the customer is always right.

American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we’ve ever had because it is so materialistic and it’s so full of lies. The whole advertising world is intertwined with lies, appealing to our worst instincts.
— Eugene Peterson

I'm guilty. I've been put off by so much of what Evangelicalism represents of late. Sometimes to the point of wondering, "Is this what I want to be associated with?"

Spoken like a tourist.

These are the days of the pilgrim. Move through these strange days by listening. Observing. Learning. Breathing. Conversing.

Be a pilgrim. Not a tourist.

We are sojourning. This is not our home or destination. So wander the back allies and get to know the diversity around us. It's the pilgrim way.