‘The Imitation of Christ’ on fake news and social media

The Imitation of Christ is, by some accounts, the second most popular book in history, next to the Bible. This slim volume, written by Thomas à Kempis, an obscure medieval monk, is packed with timeless wisdom.

My own favourite version is the little blue, pocket-sized edition, featuring Ariel Agemian’s occasionally hokey, but more often intensely inspiring illustrations that convey an authentic contemplative spirit.

A few years ago, I purchased a number of copies of the book, which I have dispersed in the pockets of various coats and jackets and in my backpack. Wherever I am, a copy is only an arm’s-length away.

Anyway, today I opened randomly to chapter four, and was struck at the aptness of à Kempis’s words as they relate to our social media age. Here are some words we could all stand to meditate on regularly, and even to print out and paste on our computer monitor as a reminder every time we open our web browser:

We must not be easy in giving credit to every word and suggestion, but carefully and leisurely weigh the matter according to God.

Alas! such is our weakness that we often more readily believe and speak of another that which is evil than that which is good.

But perfect men do not easily give credit to every report, because they know man’s weakness, which is very prone to evil and very subject to fail in words.

It is great wisdom not to be rash in our doings: nor to maintain too obstinately our own opinion:

Nor should we believe every man’s word; nor presently tell others the things which we have heard or believed.

Consult with a wise and conscientious man, and seek rather to be instructed by one who is better than to follow thine own inventions.

A good life makes a man wise according to God, and expert in many things. The more humble a man is in himself, and the more subject to God, the more wise will he be in all things and the more at peace.

Amen.