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4.7 out of 5 stars
Pippa's Progress
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on 21 October 2012
At the beginning of this book there is a quote from H A Williams which says

'To become fully yourself is a terrible risk.
It would commit you to God knows what and lead you to God knows where.'

If we were all more aware of ourselves it would be at this point only the brave would continue to read on.
This book allows people to read it at different levels. On a surface level it's a good story with some wonderful illustrations, but read from a deeper place, it offers an invite to journey to find out about ourselves warts and all.

As I said before 'Only the Brave'

But Pippa is brave and she sets out on this journey, and I was with her every step of the way.
I shared her fear, her frustrations, her anger, her longing and ultimately her joy. I'll even admit to shedding a few tears.

'Pippa's Progress' like 'Pilgrim's Progress' is an allegory and therefore every character and place is a metaphor for a state of being or a way to understand a state of being.

Read at this level it is deeply insightful. Simon Parke is able to capture the width, depth and breadth of human madness and human beauty.

The book is about Pippa's Journey, but it also invites every reader to travel alongside her to discover not only a truthful relationship with themselves but also the holding of something bigger and more mysterious altogether.
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on 11 April 2013
If John Bunyan had written Pilgrim's Progress today, how much would it resemble Simon Parke's Pippa's Progress?
Most of Bunyan's readers would have shared a concept of heaven and professed a faith. Christianity was important enough to be striven over and factionalized as Bunyan's imprisonment winessed. Belief today is embattled by secularism and indifference, and the prevailing idea of heaven is in the here and now and through self-fulfilment. Pippa's pilgrimage is to lead to her facing and accepting her true self before she can understand that 'Heaven is exactly where we are standing'.
Pippa has to negotiate the lure of Con the consultant's 'solution-based scenario' of heaven and Glossy Mags' offer of 'body heaven' before she has even reached the wicket gate - as in Bunyan - which leads to the path Yortether, which will test her endurance and lead eventually to heaven. Will Good, the Christ figure with his scarred hands, initiating her journey, told Pippa to 'trust the path'. This leads her to let go of her usual props and accept the guidance of the rat Veronica, which Pippa finds so irritating.
Pippa/Pilgrim progresses through seventeen stages on her way to heaven - moving through Headspin's Hallucinatory Mental Circus - representing all the delusions of ephemeral satisfactions, and meeting Happy the Clown who tells her that everyone makes their own journey to heaven 'separate but gladly relating'. Passing through the town of Social Meja she encounters Dee Straction, simultaneously operating four electronic devices and holding what passes for a conversation.
At each stage Pippa comes closer to awareness of the false self-image she has created but resists facing this truth fully, even after surviving the Sands of Self Pity (Bunyan's Slough of Despond) and being helped through the Rock of Hidden Self by Grace (personified). Visiting Home Fires at the House of Joy, Pippa scorns Veronica's prediction that she will turn back rather than face self-truth.
By the fifteenth and subsequent stages the Christian imagery becomes more overt, with Pippa fulfilling Veronica's prophecy and echoing St Peter. Then comes the death of Veronica and the eagle Jesse 'crucified on the Plain of False Assumption', after Pippa attacks him, thinking to defend Veronica. This moving passage continues with her diary entry 'I have killed Will Good' and echoes the famous phrase: 'It is finished'.
After Pippa's drowning of her false self-image comes the resurrection of Will Good, and Pippa becomes reconciled to her true self, embodied in the young Pippa.
Pilgrim/Pippa returns home completely changed by her complete self-knowledge and awareness that 'Heaven is exactly where we are standing'.
Whatever the difference of style and presentation, the ultimate message of Pippa's Progress that a wounded soul is the gateway to heaven would certainly have resonated with Bunyan.
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on 9 March 2013
I loved this book and fairly romped through it. However, it is one of those books that requires a more thorough study or you are in danger of missing some real gems among its pages. At some time I think I need to go through it again with a pencil this time, underlining and marking passages of note. I'm sure there's plenty sermon material in here too. And lots of `Aha' moments too.

If you are a reader of Parke's column you will also know he has a delicious sense of humour which is also evident in Pippa's Progress. I think this would also make a good Confirmation present - or adapted as a course perhaps?
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on 9 November 2012
Where would Pippa's journey end? Where would the writer take his Pilgrim? I was tempted to take a peak at the end of this un-put-downable little gem but resisted and let the author's brilliant, simple, witty style carry me on from page to page. Journey's end, for Pilgrim Pippa was a delightful surprise when I got there. In spite of the subject matter I shall buy a copy of the book for my atheist daughter's Christmas present.
I see that the author was a Spitting Image script writer and he brings that kind of humour to a story which pokes gentle fun at the kind of distractions and false trails that many of us follow in our search for 'heaven'. This is a book for all ages from 10 to 100. I loved it.
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on 5 April 2013
I have taken much from Simon Parke's books particularly The Journey Home and Solitude. I would recommend Pippa's Progress to anyone who feels they don't know who they are and have lost sight of who they truly are. It is on the surface a light and engaging read which challenges (in the best and most hopeful sense of the word) the reader under its surface. It is a good first step on the journey home.
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on 30 March 2013
I read this book quickly as I wanted to know the story. Now need to re read it as there was much for me to think about. As usual, Simon gets under the skin with his writings.
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on 2 December 2016
Great produced as billed
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on 17 December 2012
I read the book during a sleepless night( what a gift it was!) . I am now reading it again.... slowly and savoring it .
Once again Simon Parke's writing brings tears of recognition, sadness and strangely joy
It's my xmas gift for like minded friends( just sent for more copies !!)
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on 27 December 2012
I picked up this book in the naïve expectation that it would be a light-hearted take on Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, perhaps combined with Swiftian satire on the way we live now. Only 175 pages long, I anticipated a rapid and enjoyable read. Had I known more about Simon Parke, I would have known in advance that, while it was indeed that, the book is both more beguiling and more difficult to stand aside from or to escape than you might imagine.

But first, the fun part. I really enjoyed the puns and the allegorical names, as in Bunyan's version. I don't want to spoil your fun by listing them all here, so perhaps I can take the twelfth stage, the City of Socialmeja, as an example. Here, Pilgrim's guide is a young woman called Dee Straction as they go through this `gleaming city teaming with life'. Dee explains:

`it's where we're all, like, connected with every one and every thing!'...'So I'm talking to you, sure' said Dee, `total attention and all that, but I'm also texting a friend, tweeting my whereabouts to my 476 followers, checking my Facebook page, watching a film and trying to rent a house with some friends - all at the same time on this little gizmo!

Of course I laughed, as will you. But I also had a slightly uncomfortable feeling - surely I couldn't be like Dee Straction? Could I? And it is like that throughout Pilgrim's peregrinations.

In some ways, Pippa's journey is rather like those strategy games which you can play online - or on your own computer (the 2012 versions of Dungeons and Dragons for example). And in places we think we can see where she has taken the wrong move, with disastrous results. But, as in a pantomime, Pippa is deaf to our cries of `look out behind you!' She needs to make her own mistakes, just as in real life.

Rather like Pippa, I found my own journey of discovery would make demands on me and invite me to answer deceptively simple questions before being able to proceed from one stage to the next. Perhaps you are more evolved than I or the other human beings who surround you, but for me these moments came thick and fast as I went through the book.

Simon Parke, whose style makes the book easy to read from a purely stylistic point of view, offers a series of soundbites on the meaning of life. You can attempt to dismiss these aphorisms as comparable to Chinese fortune cookies, but they are more like the Tardis, containing more material for contemplation than you would imagine possible seen only from the outside. Some examples:

"There's always company on the journey, but you travel alone."

"You have to find happiness in yourself. You cannot expect someone to bring it to your door. That never works."

"I allowed myself to become defined by another person, which is never a good idea."

I have no hesitation in recommending `Pippa's Progress' as a thoroughly good read.
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on 22 October 2012
A person who tries to suggest that we are utterly insane in the way we live in our culture will often receive a hostile reaction. If that person goes on to suggest that it is important for humans to attain a higher level of consciousness, they risk losing all credibility and themselves being considered insane.

There is, however, a case to be made. Simon Parke has valuable insight, and can go on to find wonderful ways of putting it across with all of its impact and none of the hostile or incredulous reaction. That is his magic, and you will feel it in Pippa's Progress.

"The goal of life is to become who we are...The path is not to take you from one place to another, but from here to a deeper here." I especially liked that.

Having read it, I encourage anyone to try Pippa's Progress and perhaps try a bit of exploring of their own as they go. It is open to interpretation - it might seem light or it might seem very deep.

And then try it in different ways with a few of Simon's other books (I liked Solitude a lot, it really made me think).
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