Australian pastor and author Mark Sayers put out a request for reviews of his new book, The Road Trip that Changed the World a few weeks ago, and I’m happy today to take him up on it. I had previously read his book Vertical Self and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I was looking forward to his newest offering.
The Road Trip that Changed the World draws its title and chief topic from the classic American novel On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Sayers examines how Kerouac’s novel incited a generation to leave the ideals of home, family, and place and instead to chase the dream of the road, the hope of whatever lays just beyond the horizon.
He spends a good chapter discussing our search for the transcendent, and notes how when we fail to notice and embrace the transcendence in the material here and now, we end up constantly looking for the next “woosh” – a fleeting moment of awe that makes us feel alive but quickly leaves us searching for the next hit.
The first two-thirds of the book is devoted to this examination of the shift in American culture brought on by Kerouac; the last third brings things around to the gospel. Sayers discusses Abraham as “the first counter-cultural rebel”, and traces a path through the Old and New Testaments, ultimately concluding that we need to reject the endless search for the “woosh” over the horizon, instead finding joy and meaning and transcendence in the here and now, as we experience true community and relationship with God.
I’ll say this – Sayers has the spirit of the times nailed. If anything, I didn’t respond to it more because it already seemed so familiar. His diagnosis of cynicism, distance, and the search for transcendence in “woosh” moments is right on. His prescription of embracing community and finding transcendence in experiencing God is a call appropriate for the time. If my cynical generation is willing to hear it, The Road Trip that Changed the World is a great call back to what really matters.
Note: I was provided a free copy of the book in return for reading and posting a fair review.