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Here are our submissions from last week on Confessions: Book VII – Chapters 1 – 10. We wrote on the topics of the philosophy and theology of evil, God’s relation to his creation, questions on whether or not God still speaks to us today, an overview of Manichean theology and how its views are still present in some way in today’s church.
Here is a late submission from the last book by Doris that you will find at the very end of the page.
We will finish up Book VII next week.
Before mentioning the questions, please read Michael’s submission from last session here at the end.
We will begin Book VII: Chapters 1 – 10 of Confessions.
Although Augustine has been using Neoplatonic terms and ideas throughout the Confessions it’s here in Book VII that he reaches the point when he first reads Neoplatonic philosophy. This is a pivitol moment for the young Augustine, who finds in Neoplatonism a way of reconciling his long pursuit of philosophy with his new and serious faith in Christianity. The union of this philosophy and this theology will guide his work (including the Confessions) for the rest of his life.
Saint Augustine, detail from the Doctors of the Church Cycle, 1487-1492, fresco, Church of the Santissima Annunziata, Franciscan Monastery, Cortemaggiore, Emilia-Romagna. Italy, 15th century.
We conclude Book VI of “Confessions” with essays on self-interest vs. public interest in political offices, the role of the Church and her teachings on premarital sex, and thoughts on universal salvation and a glimpse into the true cost of forgiveness and grace.
Read them here.
We will finish Book VI of Confessions, where Augustine deals with issues of the pursuit of truth, his struggles with lust, the afterlife, and final judgment.
We had our first meeting back from over a month this past Sunday. We were a bit rusty in the beginning but we quickly picked up from right where we were before.
We went over Book V: Chapters 8 – 13 of Augustine’s “Confessions.” We discussed about whether or not we should read the Bible literally, if Christianity is meaningless without an afterlife, the role of doubt and skepticism in matters of faith, whether or not your sincerity and way of living affects answers to prayer, how we “picture” God when we pray, and whether or not the concept or reality of evil has relevance only in human terms.
You can find our essays here.
Last night we went over our essays on Book V: Chapters 1 – 7 which you will find here. In these chapters, Augustine spends most of his time remembering his encounter with the preeminent Manichean scholar Faustus of Mileve and how it was through that meeting with him that eventually lead him away from Manichaeism.
We had an interesting discussion on the education (or lack of) in higher degrees for people in church leadership. We also discussed whether or not animals or creation in general can worship God, how science and religion could be reconciled, and how science can expose errors in theology.
I also came across an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal on a new book about St. Augustine by Robin Lane Fox titled Augustine: Conversions to Confessions that you can check out here.
Book V follows the young Augustine (he was around 29 years old at this time) from Carthage (where he finds his students too rowdy for his liking) to Rome (where he finds them too corrupt) and on to Milan, where he will remain until his conversion.
He spends most of the first half of this book recounting his encounter with Faustus, a Manichee luminary.
Please write on one of the following topics:
We have finished Book IV of Augustine’s Confessions.
We had discussions on excessive materialism, rampant anti-intellectualism within the Church, the nature of the knowledge of God, and experiences with God’s immanence.
Here are our essays on these topics.
Yes, it’s been a while. But we’re still here and ready to go ahead.
We will continue with Book IV, Chapters 9 – 16.
In this book, returning to Thagaste from his studies at Carthage, Augustine began to teach rhetoric, making friends and chasing a career along the way. Though giving some account of these worldly matters, Augustine spends much of Book IV examining his conflicted state of mind during this period. Having begun his turn toward God (through the desire for truth) but continuing to be ensnared in sinful ways, Augustine wrestled painfully with the transitory nature of the material world and with the question of God’s nature in relation to such a world.
The these sections, be mindful of how Manichaeism influenced his thoughts during this time and how he tries to rectify them now looking back.
Today, we discussed whether or not the Bible allows co-habitation between couples, especially among Christians (as is most often the case, theology/religion cannot compete with personal sexual desires and urges – physical desires will almost always win); the theology of death; and then whether or not we can be “friends” with God.
Our essays are here.