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Book Title: The Imitation of Christ: Four Books|
Date of issue: April 15th 2004
ISBN 13: 9780760755914
The author of the book: Thomas à Kempis
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.57 MB
Edition: Barnes Noble
Read full description of the books The Imitation of Christ: Four Books:‘You can get used to anything,’ chuckled a retired SS captain in a documentary recently about his posting to Auschwitz, after he’d described how the bodies in the gas chambers always formed a perfect pyramid, with its apex at the grille in the roof. We might take issue with this particular instance of ‘anything’, but the fact remains that human beings are amazingly adaptable when it comes to pushing the psychological boundaries. The initial shock of a new and unpleasant experience fairly quickly levels out to a plateau that becomes the new norm.
What we today accept as normal, everyday life would have seemed a vision of hell to a man of the Middle Ages: technology run riot; workers enslaved to capitalism; sex, money and power the presiding deities; religion apparently the preserve of the ignorant, the superficial and the deceived.
The airwaves are creaking like an over-laden galleon under the weight of advice on everything from cosmetic surgery and nutrition to beauty therapies and relationships.
I watched a woman on TV last night having liposuction and extensive, invasive surgery to make her feel happier with her body. The lump of flesh on the operating table, drenched in blood and with two huge wings of fat and skin laid out on either side, made her look like the aftermath of a Viking Blood Eagle execution, or the subject of a tortured painting by Francis Bacon.
It seemed a perfect symbol for the way in which we have lost our way in the materialistic jungle, and certainly if I were Satan I’d be celebrating down the pub – mankind has been successfully hoodwinked, flooded and distracted with gadgets, obsessed with youth, beauty, money and sex, all thoughts of salvation gone out the window.
The purity of the original message from any of the great religions seems to get contaminated as soon as it enters the corrupt medium of the world, so that what we end up with is an idea of the ‘Will of God’ - if it exists at all – as one that is wholly bent on evil, as Umberto Eco suggests in ‘The Name of the Rose’.
There is a need for a return, for a restoration of the spiritual balance without which life is a burden and a struggle, a minimalist drama by Beckett rather than a glorious opera by Mozart. Society will go marching on its self-destructive way, but as individuals we can look out for ourselves and try to rectify the psychic disorders by purifying ourselves of the rubbish that is constantly seeking to make inroads.
Thomas à Kempis’s wonderful book is more relevant today than when it was written. You don’t have to be a Christian or even particularly religious to derive nourishment from it. It hasn’t been out of print for six hundred years, and is worth more than a library of modern ‘self-help’ books.
The Imitation consists of four books on general spiritual topics, each divided into subsections dealing with more focused aspects: ‘On trust in God in all trouble’, ‘On knowing ourselves’, etc. After the Bible itself, no other work can compare with its profound wisdom, clarity of thought, and converting power. Christians of such widely differing period and outlook as Thomas More and General Gordon, Ignatius Loyola and John Wesley, Francis Xavier and Dr Johnson are but a few of the thousands who have acknowledged their debt to this work.
Although à Kempis spent most of his life in the cloister, his burning faith and love of God speak to us on the level of shared humanity. As F.R.Cruise says in his authoritative work on a Kempis, ‘Beyond doubt, the Imitation most perfectly reflects the light which Jesus Christ brought down from heaven to earth, and truthfully portrays the highest Christian philosophy.’
Read information about the authorThomas Hammerken (or Hammerlein -- both mean "little hammer") / Thomas de Kempis / Thomas Hamerken von Kempen was born at Kempen (hence the "A Kempis") in the duchy of Cleves in Germany around 1380. He was educated by a religious order called the Brethren of the Common Life, and in due course joined the order, was ordained a priest, became sub-prior of his house (in the low Countries), and died 25 July 1471 (his feast is observed a day early to avoid conflict with that of James bar-Zebedee the Apostle).
Thomas is known almost entirely for composing or compiling a manual of spiritual advice known as The Imitation of Christ, in which he urges the reader to seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to be conformed in all things to His will.
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