I have now officially released my first self-published book! It's about money, providence, detachment, and the joys of poverty. There's the usual smattering of philosophy, occasional wild flights of hyperbole, and a lot of solid research: my husband and I read all of the Vatican social documents from the past hundred years, and scoured the Bible for quotations about money and poverty. The goal was to create something that would briefly but accurately portray the role that money is supposed to play in the lives of Christian laypeople.
“It is impossible to serve both God and Mammon.” This is one of those hard sayings in the gospel that often causes people to go away sad. Material wealth seems like such an important part of happiness here on Earth that the cost of giving it up for Christ seems intolerable. Money secures so many basic human goods: freedom, choice, social status, dignity, self-respect, the ability to provide for others, and even life itself. Poverty may be a virtue: but surely it's one of those gruelling, unpleasant virtues which are reserved for people who have made religious vows.
Yet there is one thing that is difficult to explain. The people who have embraced the virtue of poverty have freedom, choice, love, dignity, self-respect, generosity and fullness of life. More so, in fact, than the people who have tried to obtain these things with gold.
Everybody knows, vaguely, that this is true. The question is, how do we go about proving it from day to day? When Mammon promises us the world, if only we will bow down and worship him, how do we find the faith to trust in God instead?