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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book IX – Chapters 7 – 13

Clergymen bow and touch relics of Lebanese St. Rafqa as they are displayed for visitors on Nov. 6, 2014, at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Easton.

 

Today, we concluded the autobiographical portion of Augustine’s Confessions.  Most colleges courses covering this book would normally stop here, but we will continue with the rest of the books.

It is interesting, as one person put it, that when he went seminary in his late 30’s, he was surrounded by young 20-year olds straight out of college.  When it came to reading Augustine’s Confessions, many of the young people found it a bit boring and less applicable; however, the handful of older people in the class felt a deeper connection while reading the book because they went through the same struggles, experiences, and questions as Augustine had but afraid to share them with others.  So I guess when you re-read Confessions later on in your life, the deeper the connection you feel with Augustine.

We discussed whether or not traditional “biblical” gender roles still apply till this day, as well as how Protestants uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura  and some problems it has in today’s context; the use and abuse of relics in the Church in history; Augustine’s Neoplatonic view of the afterlife after his vision or epiphany with his mother Monica; and Mike (not written here) talked about whether or not salvation was conditional or unconditional – the Bible seems ambivalent in some respects with the issue.

Our essays can be found here.

 

 

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“Confessions” – Book VIII: Chapters 7 – 12

A clip from the movie “Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.” Bishop Ambrose is depicted here embracing Augustine and later baptizing him.

 

This week, we will finish the rest of Book VIII – chapters 7 – 12 of Augustine’s Confessions.

In these final chapters, we encounter the monumental moment when Augustine finally devotes himself to the Christian faith as he recounts in great detail in these writings.

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book VII: Chatpers 1 -10

 

St. Augustine Sacrificing to a Manichean Idol, 15th century, unknown Flemish master

 

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.

 

 

UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book VI – Chapters 1 – 8

 

Here are our essays for Book VI: Chapters 1 – 8, where we discuss about materialism and happiness, and on the culture of anti-intellectualism in American churches in general and what it means to love God with all your mind.

 

 

UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book V: Chapters 8 – 13

 

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.

 

 

 

 

“Confessions” Book V: Chapters 8 – 13

https://i2.wp.com/www.traditioninaction.org/religious/religiousimages/D007_Bergognone_Ambrose.jpg

Augustine and Monica sit listening to a sermon from Bishop Ambrose in a painting by Ambrogio il Bergognone (1455 – 1535), Turin, Italy

 

Yes, we’re back from a month long hiatus.  We will finish Book V of Augustine’s Confessions.

 

In 383, at the age of 29, Augustine sailed from Carthage with his partner and their son, along with his two close friends Alypius and Nebridius, to Rome for a teaching position where he hoped to engage with better behaved students. By that time, Rome was no longer the center of the western empire; the emperor resided in Milan.

 

The next year, after winning a competition for a post as public teacher of rhetoric, he moved to Milan. It was there that he first encountered the formidable figure of Ambrose the bishop of Milan. He was to have a profound influence on Augustine’s life and thought.

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“Confessions” – Book IV: Chapters 9 – 16

An olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine in Thagaste.

An olive tree that is believed to have been planted by Saint Augustine in Thagaste.

 

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.

 

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UPDATE: ‘Confessions’ Book III: Chapters 1 – 6

 

Here our our essays on Chapters 1 – 6 of Book III in Augustine’s Confessions.

 

This week, we tried to answer and explore the eternal philosophical question of “What is love?” as Haddaway expresses here.

 

 

Pretty lively discussions from our group this past muggy Thursday at Central Park.

 

Our essays focused on Augustine’s critique of theaters; try to answer what love is; experiences encountering the Bible; and the relationship between theology and philosophy.

 

 

 

Questions for ‘Confessions’ – Book I, Chapters 11 – 20

 

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“The rich people of Rome had a great education. They were often schooled and were taught by their own private tutor, at home they would go to schools. The schools were boys only. All the learning was based from fear, The boys would be beaten for any offence. They did this because they figured if children fear getting the wrong answer they will get it correct. If a student were to get lots of answers wrong they would be held down and beaten with a leather strap. If you were poor chances are you would be able to read and write , but you would not be able to have your own tutor or be able to go to school. ” (source: https://historicalroots.wikispaces.com/Ancient+Romans) Augustine wrote about how he was beaten at school for bad performance. He writes, “I was still a boy when I first began to pray to you, my Help and Refuge. I used to prattle away to you, and though I was small, my devotion was great when I begged you not to let me be beaten at school. Sometimes, for my own good, you did not grant my prayer, and then my elders and even my parents, who certainly wished me no harm, would laugh at the beating I got – and in those days beatings were my one great bugbear.” (Confessions, Book I, Chapter 9)

 

 

 In these chapters, Augustine describes his early education and what his childhood was like.

 

Here are some interesting facts about the time in which Augustine lived in that will provide some background information to clarify some historical details.

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Plotinus – The One, The Mind, and the Soul and Christian Theology

 

We had a very good opening session last night to start the new semester.

We delved into Plotinus’ general philosophy and how it influenced Christian philosophy.  We can see its legacy even to this day in Christian circles.

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