Thursday, April 11, 2013

Slave of Two Masters

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?


  1. Wow!!! Awesome!! I love the cover art. That fake monopoly card is a classic!!

  2. I'm anxiously waiting for it to arrive.

  3. Have you read The Scholastic Analysis of Usury by Judge John Noonan published in 1957? It remains a seminal work advancing the proposition that the Catholic Church has changed Her position on usury. Michael Hoffman, author of The Mortal Sin That Was And Now Is Not has high regard for Judge Noonan's book, although not agreeing with certain ideas.

    The book is extremely difficult to find, actually impossible I'm thinking until a Kindle version arrives.

    Islamic Finance is a blog moderated by John Wiley Spears, a Catholic I believe, studying Islamic Finance and Islam's Sharia Law banning usury. Mr. Spears is about the task of disproving Judge Noonan's assertion that the Church has changed her position on usury, principally on the argument that Vix Prevenit is still in effect.

    Vix Pervenit, by Pope Benedict XIV promulgated on November 1, 1745 is supposedly the last official document by the Church on the topic of usury.

    Good luck with your self-publishing venture.

  4. Spelling mistake on the name of the Encyclical. It should be: Vix Pervenit.

  5. Received it and finished it. I can't say how much I appreciate what you've written here. This is a radical (in the sense of digging to the root of the matter) exposition of a Christian's relationship with the material and the temporal. Powerful stuff! Thank you for writing it.

  6. My copy arrived yesterday!

  7. Received from Amazon about a week ago and read it cover to cover. I would like to attempt a Spanish translation, but am too new to the social media/comment world to know how I might contact you about this? I used the book in a talk I gave this week about economic responsibility to mothers and they loved the quote about poverty being a transparent pane through which we can see the face of Christ. Are you familiar with Caryl Houselander?

    1. I'm glad you like the book! I can be reached at No, I'm not familiar with Caryl Houselander -- thanks for the tip!


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