Faith, Politics, and Transitions in Brussels

Becoming an Amateur


But what do I love, when I love Thee? — Saint Augustine, “Confessions”

We become like what we love. So runs the psychology of the ancients. In the process of loving, we behold, admire, and seek to grow similar to those things we love. If you want to be virtuous, love and habituate yourself to be like the virtuous person you know. If you want to be an artist, love what is beautiful. If you love what is beautiful, you might become much more than an artist. You might just become a beautiful soul.

The word “amateur” has negative connotations in English (or it can have). It denotes a non-professionalism. A naivety or a unskilled-ness. But what it meant originally was one who does something for the sake of their love for it. They don’t do it for money or because they are forced to. They practice whatever the art or occupation, because they loved it.

What do you love? What do you do because you love it? Does that activity make you become the type of person you want to become? Does it make you the type of amateur you want to be?

Saint Augustine asked the very interesting question, quoted above. He was praying to God, and he wondered, what did he love when he says he loves God? God is not a body somewhere, or an entity seen. God is Spirit, Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Love. As well as a plethora of other qualifiers but in their absolute and transcendental sense. God is also a community of persons, the Trinity: three-in-one and one-in-three. When I love God, I grow to reflect this perfect love and unity of God.

Despite fairytale claims, our love is not limitless; that is, we are not vessels without bottoms holding an infinity of love. We pour out and we grow weary. What we love, and those we love, need to recharge us as well. But love does not exist in an economy or exchange. It is not a zero-sum game. We produce more than we pour out. Love is a creative action. And we could all fill the world with love.

May we learn to love well; may we learn to love what which transforms us into the people we want to be and to love that which will make the world into a better place. May we love without fear and without hesitation. And may our love always reflect the perfect love of God, who is Love and Light.

— Jeremy

3 Responses to “Becoming an Amateur”

  1. thyme

    Robert Farrar Capon writes at length (and beautifully!) about being an amateur in his book “The Supper of the Lamb”, and it seems like your opinion echoes his. The world needs more amateurs indeed, and perhaps by sharing their loves the world will become altogether lovelier.

    “The world may or may not need another cookbook, but it needs all the lovers – amateurs – it can get. It is a gorgeous old place, full of clownish graces and beautiful drolleries, and it has enough textures, tastes, and smells to keep us intrigued for more time than we have. Unfortunately, however, our response to its loveliness is not always delight: It is, far more often than it should be, boredom. And that is not only odd, it is tragic; for boredom is not neutral – it is the fertilizing principle of unloveliness.

    In such a situation, the amateur – the lover, the man who thinks heedlessness is a sin and boredom a heresy – is just the man you need. More than that, whether you think you need him or not, he is a man who is bound, by his love, to speak. If he loves Wisdom or the Arts, so much the better for him and for all of us. But if he loves only the way meat browns or onions peel, if he delights simply in the curds of his cheese or the color of his wine, he is, by every one of those enthusiasms, commanded to speak. A silent lover is one who doesn’t know his job.”


    • jeremybanters

      I love Capon and his The Supper of the Lamb! And I am honored that you hear his voice echoing in mine. I might write a post on how the amateur reveals the sacramentality of all things, and there use Capon explicitly!


  2. nrbrown10

    I’m going to lower the tone here a little bit because I just want to say that this is a great post (and a great comment!)!


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