PC #90 – I got upset…

I thought I would check out some other people’s Word Press blogs on the Camino.

I went onto this one site, which I won’t name, and it presented on first glance to be very professional and very spiritual. The blogger was obviously quite religious, because there were Biblical references everywhere.

What upset me though was the substance of the blog, where he listed the characteristics of a pilgrim versus the characteristics of a tourigrino.

I suppose he was trying to be funny, but there was an element of judgement from on high which really upset me.

I shouldn’t have allowed it to upset me, but perhaps it was the pious environment of the blog that bothered me so much.

And I thought about the hypocrisy of some people who hide within the confines of religiosity, thinking that gives them a superior right of judgement.

I left a comment saying Pilgrims don’t judge. Have you learnt anything on your Camino?  But I shouldn’t have done that really.

It’s just that it upset me.

Ch 13 - Black maurader copy

139 thoughts on “PC #90 – I got upset…

  1. Bill, was the person writing the blog affiliated with a church or university that made him think he had the last word on pilgrims? Because clearly, he was wrong. I would have done what you did, but likely with more words and irritation because I despise judgement. I think it is the sneakiest form of predjudice around .Sometimes real pilgrims ,who live without judging, have to make their voices heard! Bravo!


    • Dear Sister –

      he’s a long time blogger, not just for the Camino –

      and I don’t wish to dump on him, because that’s judgement too – it’s just that it upset me more than I thought it would.

      I don’t believe he’s associated with a church or a university – but anyone who has column that lists what a pilgrim is, then what a tourigrino is, is making pretty damn big judgement calls I think.

      You call it prejudice – yes – and I call it a form of elitism, which really really bothers me. Class, status, anyone thinking they’re above someone else – these are the things that really bother me.



      • Of course it bothers you! They are all just pretty words for the worst kind of bigotry -which in turn has to be one of the basest human qualities. And at the same time you have to wonder why he is obsessed with the definition. How did his Camino fail him,or he fail his Camino,which isn ‘t possible – that he has returned without positive growth? What happened to make him this way?


        • Well Sister, like I say, I don’t wish to pass judgement on someone else – I can only describe how I felt – and feel – about people who are deemed “tourigrinos.”

          I think it is ignorance of the basest kind, because there are many people who present as tourists who in fact are much more pilgrim than those judging them.

          You can’t judge anyone.

          How do you know who they are, what they are?



    • Rachael,

      Quote me from my early blog or blogs where you feel I was judgemental.

      You have brought this up several times now, and it seems the only time I hear from you is when you have something narky to say about me, so tell me exactly where I was judgemental.

      If I don’t hear from you I will take it that you can’t justify your position.

      If you do show me where I was judgemental, I would be curious to see my degree of transformation – and how the Camino changed me for the better.

      Over to you Rachael.



    • Rachael,

      I still haven’t had a response from you.

      Either you’re searching back through my posts to find those times when I was judgemental, or you can’t find anything substantial, and you have retreated into cyber-silence.

      Which is it?



    • Rachael,

      It’s getting late here in Australia. I haven’t heard back from you telling me where in my early blogs I was judgmental.

      I’m hitting the sack now. I hope I wake up in the morning to find that you’ve unearthed those pesky posts of mine.



    • Rachael,

      I’ve woken up here in Australia and checked the blog and I’m disappointed that you haven’t come back to me with instances of when I was judgemental.

      Obviously something I posted in an earlier blog must have really upset you, because you’ve mentioned several times now in comments on this blog that I was judgemental.

      I was keen to see these instances, but more keen to have a vigorous discussion with you about judgement and the transformative power of the Camino – using myself as the example.

      But it’s not to be.

      If you can’t find those instances, then I ask that you please refrain from telling everyone I was judgemental.

      If you can find those instances but you don’t wish to engage in debate on this forum, please contact me privately on billpgsblog@gmail.com.

      Thank you, Bill


      • Please forgive me Bill. Firstly because I did not intend to rark up, but rather illuminate your growth (as a positive thing). I made the mistake of making it a quick comment as I was on the way out the door. Then to add insult to injury I did not check back in at the blog until just now (life got in the way and I try to make a point of only doing blogs once a day so that I am not master to them). SO sorry.
        The things that spring to mind (and I don’t have the time to find exact quotes) are self-confessions of your own. I remember you talking about how you used to be very impatient with people, but the camino has changed that for you (in my opinion being impatient with someone comes about because of your expectations of them – in other words, judgements). I remember you talking about ordering an icecream and there was a “gas bagger” (how’s that for a judgemental term!) but that you chose to treat her differently than you might have earlier in the trip. Another time was the judgement (which turned out to be unfounded) on the couple in the church crowing like roosters! I suspect you’d be more generous with them now. Another time you talked about being an egotistical film director – and while I agree that such traits can help you make a good movie, you were saying yourself that some of that needed to go – and it would.
        Have I explained myself? I hope you can see that I was not merely being narky and then refusing to engage in the conversation. I really do think you have come back from your camino as a changed person – certainly less likely to judge others now. And I still hold that I think it is partly because you are more self-aware;-)
        I’ll check back in here tonight after our guests have gone home!


        • Dear Rachael –

          Lovely to hear from you, and please, no need to say please forgive.

          There’s nothing to forgive!

          All the points you raise below (or above, depending on where Word Press places this!) are absolutely valid. And thank you for making me aware of them.

          It’s all true, what you say.

          And I think it’s true too that I have changed. The Camino did humble me.

          I make movies. That’s principally what I do. I produce and I direct, and often from scripts I’ve written. Some people call this being an “auteur” – a singular vision. I don’t subscribe to the auteur theory, because I think that making a film involves a huge number of talented people – brilliant people, some of them. However, every skyscraper needs an architect when it’s being built, every bridge needs an engineer, and every film needs a director.

          Some directors are loud and bombastic, and they’re bullies – some are quiet and run a set that’s respectful. But any director, if he or she is any good, is focused and ruthless in what they want. Totally ruthless. It’s just that they go about getting what they want in different ways.

          I’m one of the quiet ones, but when I need to yell, I’ll yell. And when I need to do whatever it requires to get a shot, or get my way, I’ll do it. People who sign up to do the movie with me don’t want it any other way. They want a good film. Sometimes that means being a bastard.

          All that is background to me being judgemental. Being a film director by definition means being judgemental.

          That camera movement isn’t good enough, that wardrobe isn’t right for the character, that performance hasn’t hit the subtext. Etc etc.

          In other words, it’s hard for me NOT to be judgemental because that’s who I am.

          So you are right to point out these instances – and thank you. And if you were here with me now I would give you a big hug!



      • Coming back again even more quickly than I expected. There was one instance…and this is MY issue, not yours….where you talked about going fewer than 20km in a day was a pussy-day. I know you were talking about for yourself, but I felt that most of our camino was pussy-ish and I wouldn’t want to talk with you about it. The reality was that for us with an 80-year-old and a 6-year-old, we had to be pussys. I guess I didn’t like being put in that category – and that’s about my pride, rather than your judgement.
        But as I say, my comment was meant to highlight that fact that YES, you have changed, and I really think it is for the better.


        • Rachael –

          Yes, my wife took real umbrage at my reference to pussy walks. She was similarly offended, and wanted me to not use that reference, and I haven’t in the book. Jennifer thought that it was a “hideous” term.

          I was being a brat. Unashamedly.

          I have to say that now, with the wisdom of time and greater reflection, I would not only not use that term, but I would also have no problem walking in 10kms or 15kms a day. No problem at all.

          I think at the time I had to rev myself up to finish my Camino. Right or wrong, good or bad, that’s the way I had to do it. That time. I wouldn’t do it that way again. I would take it much easier. I would see no ignominy in walking a short distance.

          Possibly because now I’ve done it. I’ve proved something to myself. And what I now realise is that I didn’t HAVE to prove anything to myself.

          So once again, you are absolutely correct, and I’m sorry if I upset you or offended you. ItI wasn’t intentional.



          • Reconciliation is a beautiful thing. And Rachel, you should use this blog in whatever manner you have time for and are comfortable with, and remember that what anyone else thinks is none of your business, but I doubt many folks on here have a negative thought about you. BTW, I rarely make a substantive comment on here. More likely a quick quip. Keep up being Rachel. You are perfect the way you are. Thanks for letting us all watch this unfold. Steve


  2. Bill,
    I know what you’re talking about but I think it’s human nature to judge… This coming from a survivalist… Fight or flight place in us. But Change judgementalism to witnessing and there you have seeing and loving. I like being seen as I am. I’m ok with that. But when, as you have read it coming from a place of “better than”… Then it gets ugly fast. Sometimes, if I myself have judged myself, “less than”, then, I have to change that for myself… I may have to tell myself… “Whatever anybody else thinks about me is none of my business”…. And then I can walk on. I’ve had to follow my own breath today, everytime I started judging events from the past or coversations overheard… To bring myself back to me.
    Clearly this person you are talking about has a lot of work to do. But that’s his Camino… Not yours…


    • Hi Peter,

      Yes, judging yourself is the hardest and harshest thing…

      Every time I made assumptions about people on the Camino, those assumptions proved to be incorrect. I say “assumptions” rather than judge. I was not in a position to judge, soon into my Camino, because I was hobbled.



  3. How dare he (anyone) sit in judgement of anyone else!! The Camino is there for anyone to travel in their particular way and no one can judge what their journey is, can or should be. Mind you, at times, I feel sort of sorry for people who feel they have to judge others, wondering where that mindset comes from and what they’ve had to go through, perceived or not, to feel that they can … and now wonder, if that a form of judging too??!! 🙂


    • Well Britta, all I can think of is this –

      lets say someone wants to judge Sister on the Portuguese tour, if because she’s a part of a tour, and let’s say she’s feeling poorly so we transport her backpack, or she even hitches a ride in the van for a stretch – and then someone judges her to be a tourigrino –

      How wrong would that be?



      • So what happened to compassion? I do get that some people would happily judge that sort of scenario, but why do they need to??? I guess that what I can never understand 🙂


        • People are people – and we’re all fallible and all flawed.

          The Camino might well engender a possessory quality – some people feel like they own it, or that they have a proprietary interest in it – and that gives them a self-perceived status. And by definition, status requires hierarchy.



  4. I guess that’s also a truth, but I still can’t understand why people feel they have a right to judge, particularly as I definitely agree that we’re all fallible and flawed. I’m very much for live and let live and do get into strife at times when I advocate that as a way to go about your life! It’s not that I don’t care, nor have an opinion, it’s just that I do think people should be allowed to run their life as they see fit (without hurting others, etc. etc.) Surely anyone who has dealt with teenagers will learn that really quickly!! 🙂 Anyway, brain shutting down after a long day coming back from the ACT!!


  5. I felt very judged the first few days on the Camino.Numerous fellow pilgrims called me a cheat because I had taxi transferred my pack over the Pyrenees. It hurt, because deep down inside myself I felt the same. it had been a compromise, giving in,to appease my husband. It did not sit will with me


    • so over a period of days I used to mumble not nice things and with time I wished them and myself to be kinder and tolerant. It truly does not matter what others think of my actions,I am the one that needs to be ok with myself. As time past,I rembered a quote by Alfred Tennyson,”Once in a golden hour , I cast to earth a seed,and up there grew a flower,that others called a weed.” In my heart I was a pilgrim annd l I saw were flowers.


      • Ingrid, I remember that Tennyson quote. It’s so apt.

        So what if you get your pack shipped? It’s no big deal. People tend to approach the Camino with too many self Imposed rules. It’s nuts.

        There’s no right or wrong way. There’s just your way.



      • Hi All

        I walked 115 ish km with my pack. I carried it over the pyrnees to Estella.

        When I arrived this beautiful man at my hostel….said.” you need to transport your bag” I said ” no”. He told me to take off my pack
        I did…and wobbled. …he got me a chair. I sat down and he said….” For you it is the best thing to transport your bag” I said I would think about it. 4 hours later….after a huge cry…I asked him to ring the people to transfer my bag.
        Do I feel anyless a pilgram? No way….I feel I am a wise one.
        I am alone on the other side of the world. ..I have no support network here. If I get injured out on the path because i wanted to carry a pack to be worthy….I will be on my own. No ones going to help me. Today I walked 28km…it took me 8hrs 42min..and for part of that, there was no one ahead or behind me for three hours.
        The Camino for me…is not about testing my endurance. I have already overcome so much in my life. .To endure in my past I have pushed myself to the limit and beyond. I have seen what happens when you push yourself to hard physical and mentally. Its not nice. ..its not pretty and there is no reward.

        So for me….this camino. ..is about being gentle to my body, spirit and mind.
        And hopefully. ..that is what I will take back with me.


      • Abbey, the *only* time I’ve never had to face being unable to continue was on the short 28-day Way to Rome in 2000, as I was in a strong state of health.

        But I think nearly everyone has to face being unable to continue at some stage of any truly difficult Camino.

        I learned that the best way to handle this, for myself anyway, is to simply stop. Wait, rest, get my strength back up and the stress or pain or whatever back down, and then move onwards again when ready. Which can of course be a little problematic if not walking alone …

        Underlying this is the realisation that it’s OK to just stop and wait, to take a break, that there’s no almighty Rule of the Camino that walking every single day might be somehow 100% obligatory. Your Camino. Your way.

        I’d never ship my pack personally, but that’s only because it’s not my *personal* style — and meanwhile, I have myself advised some people with clear medical difficulties to do so while on Camino with them, and seeing the pain that they were in. If I had been there, I would have actively encouraged you to do so, and I would also have sought to reassure you that doing so was exactly the right thing to do in your circumstances.

        You did EXACTLY the right thing, peregrina !!!


      • Hi Abbey –
        I hope that having your pack transported is making a huge difference, that you are taking joy in every step and making the most of every moment.
        Go Abbey Go!
        Sending you the best vibes for a wonderful Camino in every way –
        Cheers, Jenny


    • Ingrid, I’ve learnt a lot from Bill’s blog, and perhaps one of the biggest things is ‘everyone walks their own Camino.’ So whether you transport packs or yourself, or whether you crawl on hands and knees over the Pyrenees, that’s part of your own Camino and it’s not up to anyone else to make a judgement on that. Actually, I think that by transporting your pack to honour your husband and put his wishes before your own you acted in the true spirit of a pilgrim. I bow to you for that.


  6. Yes, I wrestled with the judgement thing quite a bit and wondered why it bothered me so much about what other people were doing when really, it doesn’t matter one bit. I think people pass judgement on others to feel better for themselves in some way, or to feel justified in what they did. I find this in the parenting realm all the time. People criticize what other people have done in raising their children so that they themselves feel better about their own choices.

    When I feel a judgement moment coming on, I think of the sig line of a friend. “What you think of me is none of my business.”



  7. Its kind of apt that this has come up because I have been worried. There’s a good chance I’m not going to be able to walk as much as I want to -and I hate that, because I want to see every inch of the way. But I’m having trouble with osteoporitic fractures, so I’m pretty sure going to need my bag transported. And with the chronic illness I will sometimes need my body transported too. I will do everything I can to prevent it,but in the end its not all up to me. And I find I’m worrying about what all of you will think of me because of it.Are you going to think I’m a big phony? Is Bill going to wish he hadn’t spent all that ,money to get me there? Am I being given another lesson in humility?-hope, not


    • You’re our Mascot Sister!

      You sit in the bonnet of the van with the wind in your habit!

      Anyone passing judgement on you will have to deal with me!



      • Oh my, Sister, put that completely out of your mind! I am going to be thrilled to just share time with all of you! I have a feeling we will be in our own little world and if people “judge,” that is their time they are wasting. Don’t give it another thought! Bill, love the visual of the wind in her habit!


        • haha – yes Julie, the wind in the habit is a stirring image!

          And as for your other comment re why I got upset – well, yes in a sense it might be because the tour could be breaking those sanctified rules on what it is to do a pilgrimage – but the tour also gives anyone who wishes it the opportunity to walk from Porto to Santiago anyway they wish – it’s just that there’s backup there should anyone want it as well.

          And if you go back to my blog post part way through the Camino, where I tried to define what is a “true” pilgrim, you’ll see that I remain consistent in my belief – that it doesn’t matter how someone does their Camino, it’s what’s in their heart that counts – and how are we to know what’s in their heart? So how can we possibly judge?



    • Sister Claire, how could anyone think of you as a phoney ???

      You will be a peregrina on the Way of Saint James, and you will receive whatever help in Charity will be given you from God through your fellow pilgrims, and through the hospitaleros along the Way.


  8. CONT’D…
    I was thinking I had got beyond these low self esteem thoughts,the wall of “I’m not as good as….or not good enough” But I found a post about me in another place a couple of days ago that I find very offensive, and that’s not who I am.So I’m more bothered about being seen as a tourigrino than I knew.Its just leaking into other areas. The end of it is, I am as God made me, nothing less or more, and I feel content and very blessed to be Sr Simon Clare. Maybe way inside there’s a little girl still waiting for approval -I don’t know. But Id like to get past it all, devote my heart and soul to doing the best walk I can do, and
    being deeplybgrateful that I can still do it at all.


    • Sister,
      The prayer handed to me be Sister Marisol has brought me back on an even keel many times in my hike…
      It’s the only thing I can give to you that I think might help.

      May God,
      Who fills with
      His Presence all
      The way,
      Bless you, Sr Simon Clare
      With love.

      I just today realized why I was called to walk this road… And it’s still hard for me to accept that God loves me no matter what. It’s unbelievable but true… And I’m getting it bit by bit… So hang in there. It’ll be worth it. You already know it will be.
      In friendship, Peter


      • Thank you, Peter! I have to say that the day I realised God loved me, exactly as I am, faults, past history,unpleasant traits, never doing enough for Him to be worthy of His Love, (watch out for that one!!!! Nothing we ever do will make us worthy of such a mind bending gift, buts its ours, freely)was the most joyful, liberating,happy tears, hallelujahs and sheer awe!!Just pray you’re sitting down when it hits you,because it knocked me flat bass -ackwards! Thank you for the treasure of your prayers and friendship.


      • I just LOVE Belorado to pieces — it’s one of the most peacefully normal places along the whole Camino, and my feeling is that it’s the one place where normal Spanish life and pilgrim life get the closest to each other along the whole Francès !!!


    • Sister,

      As you well know, God has made us in his own likeness. We are all beautiful and talented in his eyes. He loves us the exact way he made us.

      I am upset that anybody dares to sit in judgement of another. Yet I am aware it happens all the time; I believe it to be the workings of the evil one and I can only pray for those in his grasp.

      Sister, we have not yet met but I would like you to know I think you are a wonderful person and I love you.

      So what if you need to use the van for your backpack or for yourself? I’m not too proud to get a ride along the way (I’m thinking it is quite possible along that 30km stretch from Braga to Ponto de Lima) and I certainly am not a tourigrino!



      • Thank you for such kind words, Arlene. I so look forward to meeting and walking with you in the spring. There are a hundred things I want to ask you!


        • It will certainly be wonderful.

          I, too, am excited to meet you and my PGS family. You can ask me anything you like, I’m an open book.



  9. Wow!! Stirred up a hornet’s nest did you Mate.

    In the greater context of this blog, about judging, I find it interesting that so many of you get so worked up about what someone else might say about the Camino in general or someone in particular. I believe I have truly learned to leave all of that behind and simply not pay any attention to what others think and would encourage my friends to do the same. I have quoted before, but am reminded again about that great Madd comic book, icon, Alfred E. Newman whose phrase for fame was “What, Me Worry?”. An ageless philosophy and one that makes life immeasurably simpler. I am sure some might think that is a bit Pollyanna, and it is, but it sure beats the alternative. It is only in my more recent years that I have truly learned to live and let live. What difference does it make to me if someone wants to divide peregrinos from tourigrinos? We don’t have to justify or explain anything to anyone. This probably came out wrong, but what the heck. Just my rambling thoughts, and no one has to agree with mine either.



        • Ouch!! If it sounded judgmental, I sincerely apologize because it was not said in judgment. I have no business judging anyone and try not to. I will crawl back under my rock now.

          Love to all, Steve


          • We love you, too, Steve. Good ride home today? Or was it yesterday – I’m overtired and all turned around. I hope one day to wake up and find myself as generously non judgemental as you are, particularly of myself


          • Great ride and great to be back in the saddle again. Looking forward to some very long rides in the future. I used to take them and loved it. Meet interesting people, cause everyone wants to comment on the Harley in the parking lot. Really true. I remember a lady 89 years old in Gillett, Wyoming admiring my bike and wishing she could go on a trip. I should have taken her.

            Never judge yourself. There are plenty of others that will handle that job. Just end each day knowing you did the best you could that day and look forward to another opportunity tomorrow. However good or bad the day was, it was your best or you would have done better. No one plans to not do their best. Sometimes our best is limited because of preconceived prejudices or notions, but it was still the best we could do with our baggage. Great that we get to try again tomorrow and the day after and the day after, assuming we are granted them. Be grateful for each day you have. Here I am preaching to the choir. 🙂


          • Hi Steve –

            our words are true.

            There’s too little time for us to waste what precious moments we have by bolstering ourselves at others expense.



  10. Honestly …. it’s the judgments that I read in various places that almost had me back out of even attempting the Camino. If I take a bus, if I stay in hotels, if don’t walk 30 miles a day…then I’m not really a pilgrim. Blah Blah Blah.

    I finally realized that I’m not going for anyone’s benefit but mine. If I want to stay in hotels, walk 5 miles a day and take a bus when my knees hurt, who is it affecting? No one. I’m honoring my own needs. My needs will vary from those of other pilgrims.
    This holier-than-thou attitude that people get when they do it ‘right’ and then hold others up to their standard is just crap, pure and simple.
    I’m glad I’m not the only it bothers! Thanks for bringing it to light.
    Hope to see you on the Camino some day. I’m leaving Oct. 17 and walking from Sarria to SdC. It’s what I figured would work best for me.


    • hi Julie , you will be fine, remember,your camino has already started some month ago. Blessings


    • Julie, what other people might think in any negative manner really is very secondary — and I’m saying that as one of those “purists”, but one who’s learned to stop judging others on the extremely dubious basis that they’re doing things differently to the way I would.

      The only thing that “bothers” me in a way is that the “purist” experience gives a certain kind of insight into yourself, into the Camino, into the pilgrims and hospitaleros that might be a bit hard to achieve otherwise, so I always feel a little unhappy to see people missing out on that — though of course, again, not everyone’s goals, material, psychological, or spiritual, are all going to be identical either, and on the other hand there’s a more social and friendly, relaxed aspect to the Camino that someone like me will miss out on about 80% of.

      Plus — the differences in the experiences between different pilgrims are often a lot more interesting than the similarities, and I can remember having some delightful exchanges with cyclists, “tourigrinos”-turned-true-pilgrims on the Way, coach-pilgrims, actual honest-to-goodness tourists, and an uncountable host of very fine pilgrims doing everything in exactly the “wrong” way compared to the exacting “purism” that I carry on demanding of myself regardless, for my sins …

      But what can I say, once you’ve done it in the “pure” fashion once, there really is no more “compromise” possible, it just becomes your own “natural” fashion of hiking the Camino … which does NOT mean that any “non-purists” are less-holy-than-I or whatever !!!! (in fact, they’re probably all about three times as wise as I’ll ever be, with my terrible half-Finn stubbornness and often far too sarcastic sense of humour …) 😉

      Good luck on your Camino !!!

      It’s good that you’ll be avoiding the summer crowds, anyway.

      PS make sure you have all the right rain gear with you, the Galicia downpours have to be seen to be believed… anything fragile that you pack will need ABSOLUTELY to be 100% waterproofed one way or the other …


  11. Lately I have been telling myself, “Don’t get caught up in someone else’s vortex.” Now I know there are spiritual places on earth that are indicated by vortices, but that isn’t what I mean. I mean another’s turmoil….their tornado, hurricane, or toilet water. (Unless it is Evian, right, Bill?) Don’t let other people’s judgment define you. Maybe you were upset because on your 2014 pilgrimage tour, you are providing opportunities such as the van and hotels that many “pilgrims” shun. Yes, we will probably be judged….with holier than thou attitudes. Shurgs….Just know that people like me appreciate your plans!!!


    • I saw people in vans. I saw them walking. I saw them sending packs ahead. I saw people in hotels. I saw people in albergues. I did not see anyone judging anyone else for my entire Camino. I am certainly not saying it does not happen, but I did not witness any of it. Don’t worry about it. Worry will ruin your Camino. Every day is an open canvas for you to paint as you see fit and no one else has the brush for your canvas. Enjoy. Buen Camino. and as Mr. Bill would say, G’day Mate. 🙂


  12. Hi Bill and PGS Family –
    A letter to the Editor of the Traveller Section of the Sun Herald in Sydney in February this year highlighted this nasty and unwarranted judgement of those who choose, for whatever reason, (and we all know there are a myriad of them), to have a Camino experience as part of a group. It was in response to a person who had written into the Traveller Section the week before who had started up a new company providing Camino experiences for women. The tours were to have a spiritual element – such a wonderful thing – and so much of what the tour company wanted to provide is what you are providing to your group next April.
    The letter was so harsh and judgemental … Britta and the rest of our Camino group were with us the weekend the letter was published, and we were all shocked to read that anyone could be so awful. I was moved to write a response to the Herald, which sadly didn’t get published, but it goes like this … “If St James, Patron Saint of Spain, and in whose name many walk The Way, were alive today, he would welcome everyone and judge no one, nor seek to diminish their Camino experience”.
    Bill – I would have left a similar comment to you if I had read this person’s blog … it’s not kind and it’s not respectful of the blogger to make such judgements.
    Best regards to everyone – Jenny


    • Hi Jenny,

      Well thank you for this story.

      Can you remember what the person writing the complaint had against the tour?

      (I don’t want to do the same thing!)


      I spoke to Jennifer about this this morning – she’s mostly blissfully unaware of what happens on the blog. She never reads it!) and I told her that what upset me the most was that the person writing the blog wrapped himself around a cloak of religious superiority.

      Jennifer said well of course – that’s what the church does, it judges. Are you a saint, are you a sinner? Judgement Day.

      I have never read the Christian Bible, although I have read the Buddhist “Bible” many times, but it seems to me that Jesus’s words have been misappropriated by orthodox Christianity – in that He said that everyone was equal in the eyes of The Lord.

      There was no judgement. A so called “whore” was regarded with the same love and compassion as a virgin.

      Sister Clare and Peter McG will probably jump in and correct me there…

      But, getting back to this blog – it was what I perceived to be the hypocrisy that upset me. If the guy was just a yobbo trekker who was making these statements, it would be easy to dismiss. But this person had a banner on his blog that implied that he was spiritually or religiously inclined – and that’s what bugged me.

      All that said, I don’t wish to judge the guy, because that’s what this is all about. All I’m saying, and documenting, is what upset me, and why.



      • Bill – the person you speak of should have known better given the importance that religion and spirituality holds in his life. It’ll be interesting to see if he receives more feedback similar to yours.
        I look forward to reading Sister Clare’s and Peter McG’s comments on your post too. Their comments will be valuable for us all to read.
        BTW – I’m pretty sure I’ve still got the copies of both letters to the Herald at home in Cronulla (we’re at Culburra at the moment) so I’ll dig them out tomorrow when we get home and post them so everyone can see. Cheers – Jenny


        • Hi Jenny – great, that will be interesting.

          I know running a tour is going to be hard work – handling all the different personalities – but then again it should be easier than running a film set!



      • Bill, if you step away from thinking the Bible is religious book for minute, and read it, you’ll find it s fascinating story. The Old Testament has every element of the perfect epic -heroes, villains, battles, miracles, betrayals, prophets, backstabbers, sex and gripping history. I wish people would stop thinking you have to put on a sanctimonious attitude to enjoy it.The beatitudes are the most tender words of comfort ever written ; while the Song of Songs is a wonderful celebration of the expressions of love between a man and a woman.But your facts are correct. The Bible states Jesus declaring that all people are equal . The New Testament says “God is a spirit”. Its a story, more than anything, about
        love. You would enjoy it too. Christ made no distinction between adulterers and
        virgins, tax collecters,pub owners,lepers, solidiers, the rich or the poor. It all about the love in your heart, and learning to accept that God loves the people and the universe He made for us.


        • Hi Sister –

          I actually downloaded the audbiobook of the Bible, so I could listen to it, or read it, on the Camino. I thought it would be an appropriate placed to do so – but it turned out I didn’t listen to my iPod at all. So I haven’t yet read it. However it IS one of the great compilations of epic storytelling – it IS the greatest story ever told – and for that reason I was curious to read it. The myth, the symbolism, the politics and backstabbing and so forth – all that has intrigued me from the dramatist’s perspective, if nothing else.

          So it is a book I want to read.

          It’s got to be better than Michael Connolly.


          But I do feel that the church has, at times, used the symbolism and metaphor inherent in the writing and applied it too literally – and that’s what’s caused so much discord over the centuries.

          So yes, I DO want to read the Bible – as a piece of storytelling – an extraordinary piece of storytelling.

          Do I believe that Christ existed? Yes, just as I believe Siddhartha existed, and the Prophet Mohammed.



          • Well of course Siddhartha, Mohammed and Jesus all existed, and among many, many other things, were very holy men. If I can suggest just one thing, when you do read the Bible, please read the Jerusalem translation. It is academically superior and beautifully written in contemporary language that is still faithful to the original translation. Its the best introduction to the whole epic, in my opinion, and the one I studied with at the Dominican College I attended. I would be the first to agree that the Church has used the Bible as an instrument of control. It was a powerful tool for manipulation of the masses, especially in ,
            early history and up until it was distributed in the languages of the masses. But I’m not going to get into church history here -my views would probably surprise you. But the church has always been run by humans who are very fallable, and as such, it is those people who.misused the institution who are responsible for any damage done. Humans have a talent for making a mess of things -look at pollution, genocide,world hunger,illiteracy -there is no reason we ended up this way except that we are incredibly fallable. We also have a wonderful tendency to eventually rise above ourselves, and that will happen again.Gods love, and His Patience are unconditional and eternal, and He believes in us -or else we wouldnt be here!


      • Hard to tell where to insert this convoluted mess… But I’ve been walking with it all day… There are writings that I can’t and won’t post… Because I picked up your anger, Bill. But I’ll slash and burn anyway… “Sr Clare and Peter McG will probably jump in and correct me…” Nice hook.
        Of course I’ll bite… Even though I’ve learnt not to. I’ve been committed. I’m a mentally ill homeless man living with a wealthy woman… Who, thank God, loves me.
        I’m a loose cannon ranging out on the Camino de Santiago… And it looks like I have plenty of company… Just as I thought. Thankfully, there are plenty of retired mental health care nurses about., male and female… Just in case. I’m not kidding.
        The loose cannon and the holy woman!
        What an honor! I feel like we live on the same tree.
        The sacred and the profane!
        But I’m just another schlub trying
        to figure some things out.
        I’m finding myself attempting
        To live in that space between
        Breaths… And It’s taken weeks for
        Me to breath through my nose…
        I’m a mouth breather.
        And I continue to be peckish between the kinda
        Unspoiled beauty of the medieval
        Spanish landscape and the ugliness
        Of the breakfast buffet at the
        Local holiday inn.
        Craving and aversion… Ongoing.
        Trying for some state of equanimous-ness. Ongoing.
        On this gross plane of everyday Camino, between what I now call
        The white rose of the pilgrims… The TP and shit everywhere and the angelic
        Pilgrims themselves.

        I know nuttin from the bible.
        I can’t help you with that.

        I’ve never heard of the Buddhist Bible…
        Is that an Australian thing?

        I’ve been to a few Vipassana ten day silent
        Meditation camp retreats… And fairly recently
        Discovered Ignatian Spirituality… Which is similar to vipassana.
        I’m loving the Jesuits.
        My Christian Scientist mom tossed me into a little Catholic K-8 school when my dad went to Viet Nam… In 61… And I find myself feeling like the oddball I was then, now when I attend Mass… Not being able to fully experience Christ mystery thru the Eucharist … I’m a little boy again… But I’ll figure it out… I know about RCIA… AKA conversion.
        My girlfriend thinks all priests are pedophiles.

        But I do know that
        Whether you take refuge
        In the Buddha or take refuge
        In Jesus Christ… It’s the same
        Deal… You have to walk the walk.
        You have to show up and live according
        To these values.
        This is in the Pali language… Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration), panna (wisdom),
        This is Dhamma (Dharma). And in order to
        Be called a Buddhist… You must practice it! Ya gotta walk da walk!
        The same is true with Jesus Christ’s stories… The Gospels… He was a great therapist… The kind I like and want… Creative… In extremis!
        Papa Francesco…
        The Pope recently said,
        “Who am I to judge?” Bless his heart!
        He’s also said… “Wear Christ!” “Try Him on!” Like a new coat! This is not just for us Leos! We of the Sartorial pleasures… This for everybody!
        I’m trying it.
        Altho… Fr. Berrigan the anti war protester has said… “If you want to follow
        Jesus Christ… You better look good on wood!”
        In reference to persecution. Or just hangin’ in there believin’.
        It makes me wonder if my Christ is the same as your Christ? Or anybody’s
        Probably not. Everybody’s Camino is different…
        At times I’ve had bible thumping baptists
        Try to “save” me by telling me I was doing it wrong.
        And I’ve had to tell them to back away and
        “Don’t fuck with MY Jesus!”

        I was wondering…just what is a “yabbo hiker”, anyway…? Is that a judgment or an assumption?

        And another thing!
        Bear with me here… I’ve had a cafe solo late in the afternoon with something clear like grappa… Not sure what it was, but whatever the sign language meant, the pilgrim said… This would get me up to San Juan de Ortega…
        Mañana for me. I need a nap!

        So, in closing… I need to retract my thinking about your blog being a safe container for sharing stuff. I’m not sure now about safety here. This is in reference to what I have be your defensive response to Rachel.
        I was also wondering on today’s walk… If I didn’t respond fast enough… Would you have harassed me away… The same way you did Rachel… ? I think you owe her an apology.
        Make my day. Hollywood!


        • Peter –

          thanks for taking the time to post the comment so expensively, and to be so frank.

          Let me respond to a few things you raise here –

          I mentioned the Buddhist bible in quotation marks, I believe – the Buddhist “Bible” is what I wrote. I put the quotation marks around Bible because there IS no Buddhist Bible, as you rightly point out.

          However, when I was 17 my parents took me to Japan. The first night in Tokyo I opened up the drawer by my bed and inside was a small black book. On the cover was printed The Buddhist Bible. Like the way hotels used to put the Gideon Bible in drawers by the beds of travellers.

          Anyway I read this book, and I was so affected by it that the next day I went down into the hotel lobby and bought a copy. I still have it. The Buddhist Bible. That’s what’s on the front cover.

          That started my fascination in Buddhism.

          However, I have never said on this blog that I’m a Buddhist, I’ve never professed to be a Buddhist – I’ve always said that I have more of an inclination to Buddhism than to any other structured religion – however to call yourself a Buddhist means you need to be a practising Buddhist, which I’m not.

          I’ve read a bit, and the texts make sense to me. More sense than the Christian bible? Well, I was educated at an Anglican school. I was baptised and confirmed into the Anglican Church. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of Christianity, other than what I’ve experienced through observation and reading. I’ve read more about Buddhism than about Christianity.

          As far as I’m aware there had never been any wars staged by Buddhists. That to me means something.

          I would also like to respond to your words: “Whether you take refuge In the Buddha or take refuge in Jesus Christ… It’s the same Deal.” Personally, I don’t see following Buddhist precepts, or Christian precepts for that matter as taking refuge. I can only speak now from my own perspective here – as I always try to do on this blog. I have read Buddhist texts and I’ve done so to try and make sense of the world around me, and myself – how I should respond to the world around me.

          In other words, when I was young I was a bunch of ones and zeros, and reading these texts formed me into workable software that has acted a particular way. (There are plenty of bugs in my software though!) I think it’s no mistake that I found that “Bible” in the bedside drawer when I was 17, at a very formative age.

          When I was 21 years old I got my first job out of University as a cadet journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The best training possible in this country for a budding journalist. Not long into my cadetship the editor of the newsroom made me a roundsman – and he made me the religious roundsman for the ABC. I was incredibly young to be given this level of responsibility, but what it enabled me to do was talk to church leaders from all denominations, and at all levels. It was my education, if you like, in Comparative Religious Studies.

          Personally, I don’t see trying to live your life by a particular moral or spiritual code “taking refuge.” Taking refuge means hiding, and implies that there are forces or elements outside that refuge that wish to harm you, or attack you in some way. Presumably Life? Life is trying to attack you? So you should hide, take refuge, in a religion? I don’t see it that way. I don’t see Life as being something to hide from. I see it as something to revel in – to celebrate and to embrace. So I don’t regard the study of Buddhism as being a refuge. I see it as an opportunity to live life in a moral and ethical way.

          You talk about it taking you months to breathe through your nose. If you did Vipassana meditation, and you’ve obviously read up on Theravada Buddhism, then you’ll know the importance of breathing through the nose. Same in yoga. To say you’re a mouth breather means something to you trying to live between the space between the breaths.

          In my thinking, that’s where the divine lives. In the space between the breaths.

          As for you saying you’ll retract your thinking about this blog being a safe place in response to Rachael’s comment to me, and my series of retorts –

          A couple of things here:

          1/. I have never said I’m a nice person. 2/. I am no guru. 3/. I know nothing. 4/. I am not a spiritual person, nor do I profess to be. 5/. I write this blog for myself, and always have done. 6/. I write this blog to learn. 7/. I run the full gamut of fallibility. 8/. Prick me and I’ll bleed. And then I’ll yell.

          If someone repeatedly says to me, on my blog, that I’m judgemental, or have been judgemental, then as a former journalist I want that person to justify their comments. Show me where. You can’t just keep on saying these things and not back it up.

          I was not rude to Rachael, but I challenged her. I wanted her to tell me where I’d been judgemental in the past, so that we could then discuss this in terms of the transformative power of the Camino. I believe that I have changed as a result of the Camino. If she had shown me where I’d been judgemental, then I was hoping to use that as a point of discussion – using me ingloriously as the lab rat, if you like.

          I won’t get into a discussion here about Rachael and her past history on this blog – she seems like a very lovely lady who like all of us is trying to make sense of the world. Different people do this in different ways.

          Whether or not you retract your thinking as to this blog being a “safe container” is your call. Any blog, if it’s to have social impact, will bring up things that might be uncomfortable to some. It will have vastly different points of view, and it will provoke vigorous debate.

          What I’ve tried to do here is provide an opportunity for people to express their points of view, and their feelings, in a respectful environment, without criticism or judgement. Comments are posted on this blog that I sometimes don’t personally agree with – but I have never deleted a comment, nor would I disagree with someone. It’s their point of view. I respect that. And I would hope that others do too.

          What I’m talking about here is vastly different to a person challenging me repeatedly and then retreating when I ask them to justify their challenge. If you see that as me being angry, then with respect, that’s not the case. There was no anger. But there was a “put up or shut up.”

          If that had been an isolated occurrence, I would have responded differently. But it wasn’t. Rachael has said this several times and each time prior, I’ve let it pass, good-naturedly. Also, she is not a regular contributor to this blog, so I thought it was curious that after a long period of silence, she pops up just to post this remark. As she’s done in the past.

          I still hope that Rachael comes forward with instance where I was a dick, so that I could then see how my attitudes have changed – and more importantly, why.

          Peter – you’re an extraordinary man, and every time you post on this blog I am in awe of the way your mind works. You see the world from a standpoint that are shared by very few, and you are able to express that in ways that stirs my soul.

          Thank you.



          • I am in awe of both of you just from the amount of grist you each put into this mill. All interesting and all relevant. Of course, everything is relevant. Nothing is relevant.

            Love to all Matey, Steve


    • Hi everyone –

      Here is the article and the letter in response which were featured in the Sun Herald Traveller section last February …

      Firstly, the article – which I was mistaken in thinking referred to a tour company that provided tours for women only … funny how the passing months distort your memory!

      While many pilgrims follow the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St James), a distance of almost 800 kilometres starting on the French side of the Pyrenees, one Australian tour agency is leading groups in a comfortable fashion on the lesser-known trails.
      Diane McDonald, of Travel Enriched, says the trips include the Camino Portugues, starting in Lisbon, and the Camino Finisterre, from Santiago to historic fishing villages along the rugged Atlantic coast. Another walk follows the Camino Mozarabe from Granada.
      McDonald, who left her desk job to spend two years researching the areas, says the trips are for people who may consider themselves least likely to take such a journey.
      ‘We provide opportunities for those who want to experience being on The Way without having to walk long distances, backpacking and staying in hostel dormitories’, McDonald says. A typical day starts at about 8.30am. The walks follow forest and farming tracks and go through hamlets and vineyards. Transport between hotels is organised for luggage and those who want to walk less. Accommodation is in family-run hotels.
      Trips are 10-15 days and cost from $2,295 a person, twin-share, departing April, May, September and October.
      See travelenriched.com.au ”

      Now for the response … (9 Feb 2013)

      TAKE THE HARD ROAD (submitted by Maxine Hardinge)
      “Diane McDonald and her paying guests (“New paths to enlightenment”, Traveller, 2 February) are mistaken if they think they are having an authentic Camino walking experience in Europe while staying in hotels and having their luggage transported for them. Enduring privation is the very essence of the Camino; stripping one’s life down to essential needs and bringing mindfulness to the journey, not just arriving at the destination, is the point of it.”

      I was so annoyed at Ms Hardinge’s superior attitude and I felt the letter was so UNKIND to a person who was trying to get a new company off the ground, after two years research. The feedback from the letter was all in favour of Diane McDonald and her new company – just as it should be. Jane Westley, a friend of Britta’s and mine, very succinctly pointed out in her published letter, that she had walked the whole 800km of the Camino Frances, walking with a pack and staying in albergues, and subsequently participated in a group walk, just with a daypack and staying in hotels and she saw NO DIFFERENCE – that said it all for me.

      Cheers – Jenny


      • To me, interesting but not worth giving any thought to. Jenny, what do you care what someone thinks about some else”s Camino. I don’t even care what they think about mine. I skipped 100 miles; took a taxi once; sent my pack ahead once; stayed in some great hotels; and rode a bus and a train. I imagine Ms. Hardinge would take a dim view of my Camino, but she is entitled to her opinion, and unless we honor it with comments, it is simply a harmless opinion held by a person with a different point of view. Having said that, thanks for sharing the post. I am sure I am like others with curiosity, but it probably takes place all the time, we just don’t see it. Buen Camino.


        • Dear jenny –

          Firstly, thank you for taking the trouble to post this.

          It’s interesting.

          The responder obviously had an issue with the tour in general, and the whole concept of a tour of a pilgrimage walk, rather than the specifics of that particular tour.

          You can’t please everyone.

          The woman obviously has very strong views of how the Camino should be walked – which when you go onto Ivar’s forum you see that many feel the same way.

          Historically though, it wasn’t the way everyone went to Santiago – suffering privation. Some did it in comfort.

          It comes back to my point – the dictionary definition of a pilgrim: Someone who travels from afar to reach a holy place.

          Doesn’t say you can’t take a taxi!




      • Jenny –

        what’s interesting about this pricing is that it makes the PGS price in fact incredible value – and our other regular price damn good too

        Their advertised tour for the Camino Portuguese is for 10 days/10 nights @ $2500.

        Our tour is for 14 days/nights – but at her rate of $250 per day/night, our 14 day tour should be costing $3500. (remember, the PGS price for the tour is $2950)

        HOWEVER – her tour doesn’t include the following, which our tour does include –

        – overnight accommodation in Porto (expensive!) Our tour has us meeting in Porto on the first afternoon, having dinner together, then overnighting in Porto in a nice three star hotel. The next day we then set off after breakfast.

        – her tour doesn’t include dinners, which our tour does include. – her tour doesn’t include van support, which ours does – we’ll have a van with us the whole time. – her tour doesn’t include snacks and drinks, which ours does – from the van. – her tour has one English speaking leader, and a Spanish speaking guide – our tour has three English speaking leaders, plus a Portuguese/Spanish speaking leader. – her tour doesn’t include daily photographic tutorials – her tour doesn’t include daily Centering prayers by Sister Clare – her tour doesn’t include a Pilgrim Welcome Pack of Brierley’s Guidebook, Credential & Shell – her tour doesn’t include a personal photographic record of the walk for each pilgrim, prepared by Bill Bennett. – her tour doesn’t include travel insurance – which is a big cost. Ours does. Travel insurance is EXPENSIVE. – her tour doesn’t have us arriving in Santiago for the Easter Celebrations. (we have booked great hotel accommodation in Santiago)

        So all up, even at $3950 our tour is great value. At the PGS rate of $2950, it’s a steal…

        We only have three PGS slots left at that cheaper rate – so anyone wanting to come along should grab one of those places while they’re still available.



      • Hi Jenny –

        I forgot to mention –

        our tour includes a massive side trip to Braga, and Bom Jesus.

        This again is a significant additional cost, which we’re absorbing – plus, to get to see Bom Jesus will be fantastic.



      • Hi Jenny –

        I notice that this tour company is advertising a tour in April next year, a few weeks after ours – 10day/night from Porto to Santiago for $3,000 –

        Which makes our 14 day tour even BETTER value! At her rates of $300 per day, a 14 day/night price would be $4,200.

        This is without any of the additional things we’re providing, such as dinners each night, hotel in Porto, fancy hotel in Santiago, plus travel insurance, plus the van constantly, plus the welcome pack, plus the photo tutorials etc etc –

        So the PGS price of $2950 is amazing value – and that’s why we can only offer six – because we’re running these at a loss.



      • This is one of the trickier ones, because there’s a kind of tension between two opposing ideals that BOTH belong completely to the Camino.

        1) the desire (and often the need) to go and discover the self

        2) the desire for an “authentic” “Camino experience” based on privation and asceticism

        … except that the “self” can just as well be someone wealthy and needing a certain degree of comfort ; whereas the desire for “privation and asceticism” could in some people constitute either straightforward masochism or an attempt to live a lie, both of which are intrinsically foreign to what the Camino IS.

        Yeah OK, back in the early 1990s and a bit earlier, the Camino was certainly the great equaliser, because the rich who wished to walk the Camino often had very little choice but to sleep in some extremely spartan conditions in a great many of the pueblos along the Way, which had the dirt poor and the filthy rich and the ordinary middle classes bunking together in a spirit of camaraderie and underlying humanising equality ; but that doesn’t make that early ’90s way of doing things “more authentic” ; “more poorly supported” would be a more objectively accurate phrase !!!

        If we go back to the Camino of the Middle Ages, which is what these supposedly “authentic” pilgrims think they’re recreating, do you REALLY think that the wealthier pilgrims did NOT have their luggage transported, and that they did NOT sleep in the best comfort they could manage ???

        Stripping down to the essentials and having a mindful experience is NOT a one-size-fits-all deal … because the essentials are greatly variable from one person to the next ; and as for the wonderful diversity of our minds, it is actively undermined by this desire that one same Camino experience should be the only one available to all.


        • Julian –

          I agree.

          The Camino though I feel has become something of a badge and for some, that badge can only be won by doing the Camino a particular way.

          And if you don’t do the Camino that way, then you’re not worthy of the badge. And that badge is “true pilgrim.”

          Which is an utter nonsense.



      • Hi Steve, Bill and JabbaPapa –

        Thanks for your fantastic feedback on the articles – I really appreciate you all taking the time to comment. I must say I’d like to meet Ms Hardinge and talk with her about her Camino experiences – then perhaps I might understand a little more why she made the comment.

        Steve – I agree with you – your comments reinforce what we all know and that is that our own individual Caminos are exactly that – the way we choose to walk, cycle etc is our own decision and our decisions are not for anyone else to judge. I’m so proud of my Camino last year and the way I did it, with a group, was perfect for me. My group walk opened the door to the most magical place and it has enhanced my already blessed life. So far it’s led me to the privilege of volunteership at Refugio Gaucelmo next June/July and there’s so much more I want to go back and do after that. My long term goal is a volunteership back at Gaucelmo with Britta and our friend Janet, which I hope will happen one day.

        Bill – the PGS tour is incredible value – those last few places are sure to be snapped up very quickly. The tour offers so much more than any other than I’m aware of and the fact that most of the group are already friends, and the spirit in which it’s being organised, will make it so very very special.

        Julian – your wisdom and your knowledge – thank you so much! There are SO many completely wonderful things about the PGS blog and I’m SO glad you’re part of it! As I feel about ALL who contribute to the blog.

        Cheers and thanks again – Jenny


      • Thanks so much Bill – I’m really looking forward to meeting you and Jennifer tomorrow night too! You’ll both love the gang! BTW – we’re a noisy lot!
        Cheers – Jenny


  13. Before someone says, Sister you shouldn’t be encouraging anyone to read the Bible irreverently,-I haven’t. There are many ways to read the Living Word. I’ve read it over a hundred times in many translations. It was written to expose people to the story of Gods Love in human history. I read it every day, and every day it says something different to me. But we are past the dark times when the Bible was only written or read in a language most people didnt speak or understand. It was written, and given to everyone to read.All I am saying to anyone,believer or not, is open it. Read some of it. God will do the rest, and alwats,always give us the freedom to choose. Take it or leave it, He loves us just the same.


    • Sister –

      yes, understand.

      For me, when I see our statesmen and corporate leaders and church leaders too revealed as thieves, or cheats, or philanderers, or people who try and bend the laws for their own selfish or morally corrupt purposes, it makes me have enormous respect for the guy in the street who works hard, comes home and loves his wife and family, does all he can to put food on the table, lives a simple life, uncluttered with deceit and conniving.

      These are the people I admire – not the high flyers who you discover are stealing millions of dollars from shareholders or taxpayers, or the sporting stars who are revealed as drug cheats, or those fifteen-minutes-of-famers who exist in a tiny celebrity bubble and do nothing except exist in their tiny bubble, surrounded by adoring fans – etc etc

      I’m off topic a bit, but you know what I mean. For me, respect comes through what you do, not what you say. In particular, what you say you’re going to do. The film industry is full of people who say they’re going to do stuff. I respect those people who have done it.



      • Bill, you ask if I see God as external and paternal. I have to say I have seen Him in many ways through my life, and I think thats typical of an evolving faith.At this time in my life, He is most imtimately God, the Father, my Father. Made in His Image He is both internal and external ; All things in all places. I feel His Presence with me just as I feel my son down the hall, or the friend across the,table. He is always with me. I hear His Voice, and see His Presence in the world and in the eyes of everyone I meet. He is Father, Companion, Master and Teacher, Friend and Creator of all things. Alpha and Omega.He grows larger as my understanding of Him begins to
        understand the Mystery of Him. He is all.



      • A more abstractly philosophical paraphrase of what Sister Claire has said is that God is both immanent and transcendental — but that each Christian has a deeply personal relationship with Him, which can vary tremendously from one individual to the next.


        • My feeling is that that goes without saying -but expressing it in those terms would not have answered Bill’s question.


      • Yes Claire, and I most certainly was not “correcting” you or anything !!!

        I just put that out just in case my different point of view and different way of saying essentially the same things might be helpful to Bill or even someone else. 🙂


        • Julian, please dont take this the wrong way, but I studied many years and worked very hard to become a nun. As a Catholic, I’m sure you know its correct to call me Sister Clare, and not address me simply by a first name. Some clergy are.fine with a casual approach, such as a priest who prefers to be called, say George instead of Father George Winston. I am not one of them, nor is it correct to address any Sister in that manner. If there is a personal problem I am not aware of, perhaps we could find an appropriate venue for discussion.


  14. Hey Bill!! Isn’t this where Rachel.jumped in, saying my faith was so “warm and fuzzy” but misguided?


  15. Well !!!

    This is a difficult topic, or a “hornet’s nest” as one of your wiser contributors among the wise has said …

    I’m perhaps unusual in that it’s by virtue of being a very “purist” pilgrim that I’ve come to recognise even the “worst of the worst” 5 AM alarm clock rush-to-the-next-albergue-to-get-first-in-line pack-transporting snore-a-holic anti-Catholic tourigrinos with automobile assistance as “proper pilgrims”, no matter how exceedingly annoying they may be to anyone not treating the Camino like just another silly rat race …

    This understanding (that it took me a long time to fully learn BTW) would include not insisting that the Camino must always be some kind of purely Catholic pilgrimage, because IMO this sort of attitude is exactly contrary to the specific _Catholic_ spirituality of the Camino itself !!!

    Its true Catholic spirituality is a spirituality of penance and conversion — of celebration and Grace. NONE of these four things are in the slightest compatible with any sort of exclusivism, even though some other parts of the Catholic spirituality and Religion may be.

    To try and import the kinds of tougher and more robust forms of Catholic apologetic into the Camino is simply to close one’s heart to the spirituality of Saint James, who as an Apostle was and is a teacher and disciple, as pilgrim an evangeliser and the Patriarch and Patron of all pilgrims, as a Christian and Martyr both a fierce-hearted leader and a faithful servant of the Lord.

    The Spirituality of the Camino reflects all of these things — among them, and most particularly for the purposes of this discussion : the Camino is, among these aspects, a Way of conversion, so that the notion that non-Catholics and non-Christians might be somehow less “worthy” of the Camino is patently ridiculous. It could even be suggested that non-Catholics are MORE worthy of the Camino than others !!!

    The Camino de Santiago is an extremely unusual Catholic pilgrimage, in that it is the ONLY one that is so open to non-Christians and non-Catholics. The pilgrimages to Lourdes, Fatima, Rome are ALL of them completely Catholic, whether you go by plane, train, bus, car, bicycle, or on foot. This openness of the Camino is intrinsic to its very nature, and to claim otherwise isn’t just wrong — it’s uncatholic.

    Which does NOT mean that the Camino is “ecumenical” or anything, in whatever false “spirit of Vatican II” ; the Camino remains intrinsically and overtly Catholic ; but it is a practice of Catholicism that is stripped right down to the essentials of a certain particular approach, open to the possibility of spiritual change and conversion to the underlying basics of the Faith, which are Love and the brotherhood of mankind, found often in the relationships between pilgrims, and a certain degree of asceticism and daily discipline of a para-monastic nature. However : NOT all of Catholicism is like this ; and it is a great mistake to try and impose the virtues and the specific Graces and Charity of some entirely different forms of the Catholicity where they do not belong.

    (though I’d probably be in far more agreement with that person’s views if he had discussed the foot pilgrimage to Rome, for example, which is VERY different in character)

    The ONE thing that nearly all of we Catholic pilgrims of the Camino DO complain about is that there is a VERY insufficient presence of the Church on the Way to Compostela in Spain, so that this actually hinders our religious life if we do not make a special effort and sometimes even go out of our way to attend Mass and so on. Not that this should be an imposition upon all pilgrims or anything, but it is not helpful that only a minority of the priests along the Camino provide any significant focus on the more specific spiritual needs of the Catholic pilgrims.


    • Hi Julian – Saturday night here and I’m doing other things right now.

      Your comment here deserves my full concentration and thought, which I can’t give it right now.

      But just to say its good to have you back on the blog – I was only thinking about you today in fact, and wondering what observe up to.



  16. A hornets nest indeed! All interesting comments. When we walked the Camino, I don’t recall any pressure from other pilgrims about how to walk the Camino. In fact, the pressure came from within myself. The first time I got on a bus, I almost hid my face in shame, until I saw all the other backpacks in the luggage compartment! However my husband reminded me of a couple we met, where they espoused the “right” way to do the Camino – I had forgotten them.

    And the wisest words were overheard from a young person – “It is impossible to cheat on your Camino”.

    As to the Catholicism of the route, I recall reading that the present day Way of St James is in fact an old Roman trade route. I guess it is similar to other instances of the Christian church superimposing a Christian message on an existing festival (eg Chistmas and Easter).


    • Yes! It is exactly that. So many places have superimposed histories, and the Camino is one of the very few we are allowed to explore.


    • As to the Catholicism of the route, I recall reading that the present day Way of St James is in fact an old Roman trade route

      Of course, Kay, the first ever Santiago Pilgrim was Saint James himself — how could he have followed a way that did not already exist ?

      I think you’re right though to imply that “the pilgrimage” and “the Camino” are not exactly 1:1 equivalent to each other.


  17. Camino de las estrellas, has been around for thousands of years and the history is as colourful and action packed as the Bible. So that it is a pilgrimage, not just for Christians, makes perfect sense to me. My fellow pilgrims at pilgrims blessings were as varied as there are stars in the sky and accepting of the blessing for a safe journey.

    I like Sister Claire’s explanation that as with many other major literary work, one does not have to be Christian to enjoy reading the bible, as one can with so many other religious manifestos. As a catholic, I probably struggle more with the churches implementations and interpretations, then a non-Catholic. I find myself betwixet. I have no quarrel with my God, but distrust a fallible church.

    A most blessed thing however happened on the Camino… It felt right to be in church and attend service, receive the eucharist and rekindle my relationship with my creator… I felt enveloped in all there is good about it. Once I left Spain, that feeling stayed with me inside, but I have no desire to attend church. I tried at Christmas, and felt empty. It almost felt, that for but a few, most were there because it is tradition but not because they truly celebrated the birth of Christ. Thus, I too felt a disconnect.

    In Spain, there was no doubt, how much the energy and believe of the Spanish people created that connectivity to God. Maybe it has something to do with the fact, that most churches reflected the resurrected Christ, Mother Mary and the local Saints… rather then looking a the suffering Christ – mostly placed at a side altar. Maybe it had something to do with the Rosary being prayed before service… the repetition of the prayers create a very calming, relaxing state of meditation.

    There is much I am still figuring out. Ingrid


  18. A thought provoking discussion which requires deep thought and prayer. I have read all comments and am currently processing them [ viewing through my prism] before posting any response.


  19. Hi Bill
    My guests have been detained and so I have an extra hour which I am spending reading this comment thread in its entirety. My name came up a few more times and I want to refrain from appearing defensive. All I will say is that I felt part of this community (in fact, it’s the only blog I comment on), but I do not have something to say about every discussion that comes up. As someone who is now labelled as a “not regular contributor”, I am left feeling that in this particular community it is better to say nothing than only occasional thoughts – and especially so if you cannot be around to reply immediately.
    In some ways I would have enjoyed entering the discussion about judgement (actually I think we all do it – especially funny are the comments of “how dare he judge” – beautiful irony…..I would have liked to bring up the idea that Jesus called us not to judge others, but to first judge ourselves)
    But the moment has probably passed.


    • Dear Rachael –

      I love it when we get a comment or post from you.

      You always have something very insightful to say. And to wit your comment below, about Jesus and judgement. I am not familiar with the detail of the Bible, but you’re right there.

      Judge not, least we be judged…

      Thank you once again.

      (2nd big hug!)



  20. Dear Bill –

    Been away for away for awhile due to obligations both personal and professional. (While you are edging into Spring, some of us north of the equator are putting up gardens into jars and dryers.)

    I am not sure that I have anything useful to add to what Sister Clare and JabbaPappa have already put down themes as well as the worthwhile comments of other posters. (Pete Mc G provided a lot of food for thought.) But… I do feel compelled to ask the question:

    “What does it matter what other people think?” (I think that Mr. Langham has captured this already… I have been reading quickly.)

    This is not an exercise in casuistry. Seriously – – who cares? And why?

    The Camino may or may not tell you who you are. IMHO, it will allow you an excellent opportunity to discover that for yourself.

    It is a personal journey and therefore incapable of being universalized.

    WHY one walks the Camino is often a mystery.

    HOW one walks the Camino is, more often than not, an intersect of circumstances of health, weather, season, etc.

    The source of judgment?

    Humans love hierarchy – – I have no idea why. But there it is. See it, walk around it and move on with life. Dang, there’s pickles and tomatoes to put up – – and a whole lot more!

    I do not have all the answers, no one does. In fact, if anyone had all the answers – – does the Universe really need to go on? (That was a rhetorical question.)

    Warmest regards,


    PS. Your blog captured me at its origin for the complete honesty in relaying an authentic experience. I loved the absence of snark, superiority, etc. There’s bumps in the road… you are having some. Just be yourself as you work it out. Your PGS is working well, honor it. Thanks for your selfless efforts on behalf of the community here.


    • Hi Brendan –

      thanks for your comment, and nice to hear from you again!

      You’re right – it doesn’t matter zip what anyone else thinks of you, and how you walk, or ride 😀 the Camino.

      And yes, I always try to be honest. And I say “try” because for me, life is a constant process of checking ad cross-checking to see if what I say, what I think, what I write, what I do, is completely honest, or is it veiled in ego, or any of those other pernicious layers of ignorance or confusion that tend sometimes to taint our thoughts and deeds.

      Yes, you are right when you say we humans love hierarchy. I did a separate post on that, if you’ll remember. The Camino is no different from the office, or the schoolyard. There will be people who will want to take ownership, who will want to exhibit superior knowledge, and with that knowledge will then sit on a high chair than everyone else and look down at them.

      I rail against this.

      A walk is a walk. A pilgrimage is a pilgrimage. Almost by definition, a pilgrimage is internal. How can someone outside, on the external, judge what’s internal?

      Not possible.

      Your comments are always insightful, thank you.



  21. lunch has just finished – almost Spanish time given that it’s 2:30. I snuck up to the computer to see if there was any reply….. but coffees and dishes are calling so I’ll be back….feel very Bill-ish coming back to see what’s going on!


  22. There is one other aspect of this business that I wanted to touch on yesterday, but I really didn’t have the time as I was in a bit of a rush, plus I think it deserves its own little separate post.

    There is a practical purpose to judgmentalism on the Camino, that is of a psychosocial nature, and it is an exacerbation of the judgmentalism that we all of us exercise when we choose our friends and decide who our enemies are.

    But on the Camino, it suddenly becomes MUCH more immediate … which complete strangers around me would I feel comfortable walking 100, 200, 400, 800 KM with ?

    No NOT that guy with his 5 AM alarm clock ; No NOT that lady who only walks 15 KM/day and buses over the “boring” parts ; No NOT that group of people who seem to be more interested in which albergues are the most comfortable instead of any sort of spirituality ; No NOT those shabby looking couple of weird guys ; No NOT this really nice couple who (sadly) speak no language that I understand ; YES, this guy who doesn’t get up my nose, walks at a similar enough speed as me, is approaching the Camino in a similar enough way as my own, and with whom several hours worth of conversation occurred without any mishap whatsoever, but instead with much mutual pleasure.

    And then LET’S COMPARE NOTES to see if there aren’t any others who could possibly come with us too, except let’s do so by means of some entertaining descriptions of the sorts of behaviours that we simply couldn’t put up with in a walking companion …

    I think about 2/3rds at least of the discussions on the Camino about who’s a “proper” pilgrim and who “isn’t” are simply a means of sorting pilgrims into like-minded exclusivist groups of people who can then hike together with not much hassle and provide each other with the various forms of support that their membership might require ; whilst providing themselves with an “us and them” psychological environment whereby the reality of being just another person in the crowd can be magically set aside.

    In other words, I think it’s a necessary function of being a pilgrim on the Camino.


    • Julian,

      Good point, but this comes down to your definition of “judgement.”

      What you’re talking about is judgement for selection purposes, which as you point out is something we all do. And that’s an essential part of our herding instinct. And our survival instinct.

      There’s nothing wrong with this form of judgement. On the contrary, it’s part of our animalistic nature.

      The other form of judgement is one of innate criticism – where the person judging deems the person being judged as not meeting certain criterion values. And this that person is of lesser value in the eyes of the person judging.

      This form of judgement is based on status, where that status is contingent on certain values having been met. Is that person wearing the right gear? Is that person staying at the right places? Has that person walked enough kilometres in a day?has that person carried his or her own pack all the way? Etc…

      The person making the judgement is deemed to be of a high status than the person being judged, if that person doesn’t meet those values. By inference, the person judging is deemed to be of a higher value.

      This is a form of judgement that personally wrankles with me.


      • I dunno, cognitively speaking it’s hard for me to see any truly distinctive difference between the one and the other, Bill.

        There is a network of positive/negative semantic pairings involved in ANY act of judgment, including in these very acts of judgment towards each other in what we have all been saying to each other in this thread, and whether this becomes expressed in a positive or negative manner in speech and thought is at least partially a matter of pot luck IMO.

        It’s true that keeping one’s judgments for oneself is ordinarily desirable in normal society, but I’m really not sure that this normal rule will always be appropriate for the extraordinary circumstances of the Camino.

        As a social filtering mechanism, it does need to be expressed — you know, if I’m looking for companions prepared to walk 30-40 KM + stages and prepared to sleep in whatever conditions may be found regardless of comfort and who are not going to skip the “boring” bits by taking motor transport, then there’s really no other way to find them except get involved in discussions about howsoever these or those people are walking the Camino on the basis of my own and other people’s personal positives and negatives, which intrinsically supplies overtly expressed forms of straightforward judgmentalism, simply by virtue of how people will spontaneously react to such discussions, including of course myself.

        Which doesn’t mean getting all self-righteous about any of this, one remains aware that the “purists” are often looked at like nutcases or weirdos, so that these things are best expressed with a certain degree of Camino humour. 🙂

        This form of judgement is based on status

        hmmmm, actually I think that’s just your perception, and that you’re filtering things through a cognitive “prism” of high versus low status that belongs to your own particular awareness (though of course it will also be shared with others) — whatever judgmentalism I’ve had on my own Caminos, relative “status” has formed an increasingly low contributing factor in my own mind (though back in ’94 I hadn’t fully learned these lessons yet).

        I think the real solution here is to realise that each pilgrim will have his or her own idealised image of what the pilgrimage/Camino is, of what the ideal pilgrim should be like ; and then seek to achieve, as best, those ideals within the framework of the compromises, material realities, and personal limitations as they will arise.

        This does NOT evacuate judgmentalism, but it puts it back into its proper place as a part of this idealisation, from within the understanding that every pilgrim’s idealised Camino will be utterly unique and precious to that person.

        To come in and then attack that person’s ideal simply because it does not correspond to one’s own would be a Gross act of mental violence.

        Sure, some details or technicalities that one thinks another pilgrim is getting “wrong” can be quite useful to that pilgrim, because YES some pilgrims do, in the first few days, make some straightforward mistakes, including some mistakes of approach — but NEVER the ideal, NEVER the fundamental nature of their Camino in and of itself ; because it has an absolute quality where judgment is simply some useless baggage to be thrown by the wayside, like everything else that is too heavy to carry in one’s metaphorical backpack.

        So — I think it’s OK to sometimes express negativity of “how” some pilgrims might be doing this or that ; but NEVER of the pilgrims themselves as pilgrims, and never of the “why” of their Camino ; and NEVER of the material compromises that their own unchosen limitations (of whatever nature) may have imposed upon them.

        Yes, there is too a kind of shared “ideal” of what a Pilgrim is (the “true pilgrim” LOL), and what the “perfect” Camino is ; and these will be nourished both culturally and religiously, and we can participate in this nourishment, which will also necessarily require a portion of judgment.

        It does not require any one-size-fits-all attitude of “either you do it this way or you’re not a proper pilgrim”. Instead, it requires that each individual pilgrim will create his or her own ideal Camino as a personal dialogue between that pilgrim’s own self and this common ideal that all are striving towards, each of us within our own intrinsic imperfection.


        • Julian,

          I can’t add anything to what you’ve said here, nor can I argue or put another point of view.

          You’ve well and truly covered it.

          Is not helping that I’m watching a replay of the Liverpool Manchester United game!

          You enrich this blog with your intellect and point of view –

          Thank you.



        • Monaco must be your team, yes?

          Will this get them into the Champions League?

          Liverpool beat Man U. 1-0. The new manager must be feeling under siege.


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