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On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom Paperback – January 28, 1997
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Chrysostom (born 347) was raised in an aristocratic family, studied under the orator Libanus and forsook it all to follow Christ. He managed to offend the bishops of Constantinople by rooting out corruption, establishing new hospitals and criticizing immorality on all fronts. He stripped the patriarch's palace of its luxuries and gave the proceeds to the poor. This of course made him very unpopular with the elite and powerful, but the people rallied around him. Forced into exile by the church's bishops, he died while being forced to march in the rainy season to a fortress on the Black Sea.
John strongly denounced the luxurious lifestyle of the rich and not only preached, but modeled sharing of wealth with the poor. In fact, "If everyone lived according to the teachings of Christ, there would be no rich and poor; all would be equal." John's observations cut to the quick for citizens of a modern capitalist world, and are as relevant as if writtten yesterday.
Consider the following passage: "Commerce in itself is not bad; indeed it is and intrinsic part of God's order. What matters is how we conduct our commerce...each person specializes in the work for which God has ordained him; and by selling his skills or the goods he produces, he can obrain from others the goods which he needs. The problems arise because some people can obtain a far higher price for their work than others, or because some people employ others and do not pay a fair wage. The result is that some become rich and others poor. But in God's eyes one skill is not superior to another; every form of honest labor is equal. So inequalities in what people receive for their labor undermine the divine order". An elegant critique of the law of supply and demand from a Christian perspective, no?
The book also contains excerpts speaking to other issues including marriage, repentance, friendship, sin, the body of Christ, pastoral leadership, secular rulers, fasting, sickness and exile.
This book was used by a Christian Classics study group in which I participate and was clearly the most intently read of all the books we have studied so far. Highly recommended for study and meditation. Reviewed by Drane Reynolds