Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m reading an English translation of Confessions by Saint Augustine. It is a key work in Christian theology, and a blueprint for later autobiographies.
It is the life story of a North African man, who is schooled, teaches rhetoric, and later converts to Christianity.
I am only halfway, but there are many lessons to be found in this book. I will share some of my insights with you. Keep in mind I am not a theologian, but I have 26 years of life experience and I reflect on it.
1. Children do wrong sometimes
Augustine recalls an incident when he was a child. He had stolen some apples from a tree, not because he wanted the apples, but because he found it exciting to do wrong.
I can also recount instances of when my morality was lacking when I was a young child. Even now I sometimes make errors, mostly pertaining to lust and sloth.
For Augustine, this means that there is original sin and that people are therefore in need of acceptance of Christ as a Savior.
2. Religion is not all that bad
I had a dream some time ago. I saw a figure that looked like Jesus. He didn’t say anything, but after I saw him there was a bright light.
I go to church just before college. I’ll light a candle and pray in silence. It can’t possibly hurt. If anything it leaves me in a mindstate that’s more hopeful.
Augustine uses a lot of words to laud God, his goodness and his creation, but I will boil it down to the next six words:
God is all that is good.– Mark Dumanon
You don’t need to adhere to the dogmas of a church or religious movement. Just recognize that there are probably powers out there that are beyond your understanding.
Because if a human knows more than a mouse, why can’t there be something that knows more than a human? It’s okay to feel small and humble, it makes you more sympathetic.
Of course there’s a lot of power abuse in religious institutions. Just ignore them if you don’t want to go to Mass, but bless your food before you eat it.
3. Money comes and goes according to your work ethic and spending habits
Augustine writes something along the lines of:
He who can be trusted with small amounts of money can be trusted with big amounts of money.
Augustine must have been a minimalist later in life, because this quote certainly inspires me to spend less and be more careful with the money I’ve worked hard for. Or, as some rabbi has written it down in a book on Warren Buffet:
Although anti–Semites have tried to shame Jews for their ability to save money, the Jewish ability to bargain, to Jew down the price, is not a vice, but a great virtue. The hunt for a bargain is really a quest to get full value for every dollar spent. It demonstrates an understanding that money is only a means. When a person acquires money he acquires the responsibility of finding the most efficient way to spend it on the goods and services that will provide the greatest value.– Rabbi Jon Gross
When I’m at work there are always some people who bet on soccer matches. Ten euros, twenty euros. Sometimes even sixty euros for a chance to make a bit more money. Needlessly to say, they often lose.
I have been learning from them as things not to do, and even though I have my own vices (coffee on the go, eating out) with a budget at least I can amaze myself by how much I spend and vow to do better the month after.
That’s all, folks.
See you next time.