“The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant” is a pilgrim tale. It’s a tale designed for people who want to go places and make their life count. This tale centers around the journey of a grandfather (Antonio) and his grandson (Julio), with the life lessons that come about during this time. Antonio brought his grandson Julio to Rome to see the sites and to offer a good deal of wisdom. Through the recounting of Antonio’s life, the reader is given a glimpse into sound financial principles. Given that it was endorsed by financial guru Dave Ramsey, the narrative centered on smart business techniques and wise advice on running from debt.
There are many great stories in the Western canon of literature, and those stories that stick out in mind have a strong message underneath it all. Some pieces are more subtle than others, and as was mentioned above, this one was pretty blatantly open in its messaging. Terry Felber in the course of the story offered this advice throughout each stage of the tale:
1 Work hard and God will prosper you
2 Financial prosperity is connected to soul prosperity.
3 A man must do whatever he can to provide for his family
4 Trials develop your character, preparing you for increased blessings
5 Take responsibility for problems that are the result of your own bad decisions. Don’t displace the blame
6 See challenges as stepping stones, not as obstacles.
7 Be meek before God, but bold before men
8 Live debt free and below your means
9 Loaning money destroys relationships.
10 Always keep to your budget.
11 Set aside the first 10% to honor God
12 Understand the power of partnership.
As a seminary student, I noticed that some of the biblical passages were stretched to support these points. Among those, the author sets a dichotomy between kings and priests, and this serves a major function in the story. Felber stretches the text to mean something that is not there, in my humble opinion. Splitting the difference between vocational/sacred ministry (read: working at a church) and business/secular ministry (read: working outside of the church building) can be done for other biblical reasons, but taking a verse out of context to justify this position was a bit too much. The second point in this story is the most difficult one for me to fully endorse. This point gives too much credence to a “name it and claim it” theology of Joel Osteen. The other points, however, are very powerful if they become embedded into an individual’s life.
This book is ideal for those who might be more inclined towards business principles and leadership works. The fictional account is a nice story and the morals behind it are very helpful. If you like Dave Ramsey and his approach to finances, you’ll love this book. If you want a book, however, to captivate you while lounging at the beach, I would recommend that you steer clear of this one. Felber’s work will not be the most brilliant work of literature you have ever read; however, it will help cast the above principles in a narrative form. Would I recommend it? Not necessarily. I would recommend the above principles (with the exception of Number 2), but am rather cautious when it comes to the distinction between secular and sacred vocations expounded in the book.
2 Stars out of 5
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”