Pippa's Progress: A pilgrim's journey to
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PIPPA'S PROGRESS is a one-off book. It is quirky. It is
funny, and sometimes sad. It is thought-provoking. Not surprisingly
from the pen of one who was a scriptwriter for Spitting
Image, it has a good sprinkling of satire.
The author tells us that it is an adventure story in which
everything has a meaning. In other words, it is an allegory, like
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Bunyan's story, however, was
clearly devotional and Christian; the heroine of Pippa's
Progress is on the same journey, but in a changed world. Her
pilgrimage is one of self-discovery and leads her through trials
and temptations of our post-modern culture.
Simon Parke is a former Anglican incumbent, a retreat-giver, and
a blogger, and writes a weekly column in the Church Times.
He is also a therapist, whose stated core values reveal much for me
about the context of Pippa's Progress: "integrity,
awareness, loyalty to an individual's personal story, and a belief
that the answers lie in each one of us and in our experience". He
abhors "self-deception, self-alienation and any external
prescriptive codes of attitude or behaviour".
C. S. Lewis, who, with Pilgrim's Regress, also followed
Bunyan, claimed that allegorical stories of this kind could "steal
past a certain inhibition which had paralysed much of my own
religion in childhood". They do this by helping readers grapple
with abstract ideas and concepts, and discover their own allegory.
"You'll relate and react variously along the way," Parke assures
us. "Pippa's story may not be yours but her search is. Journey on
with her through the light and the dark and you'll make your own
C. S. Lewis's fellow Inkling J. R. R. Tolkien famously said that
he cordially disliked allegory in all its manifestations. He
nevertheless suggested that each one of us is an allegory of
Christ; that we have eternal life; and that in this world we are
given the gift of pilgrimage. We do our part, and God will do the
rest. That, for me, is the kernel of Pippa's Progress.
Canon Duncan was the founding Principal of Sarum