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After bit of a break we’re back once again. We will cover Book VIII: Chapters 1 – 6.
At the start of this book, Augustine has achieved an understanding of God and the humility to accept Christ, but still has reservations about being fully committed to the Church.
This is the beginning of his conversion experience.
This past week we concluded Book VII of “Confessions” by covering chapters 11 – 21.
We had good conversations about human reason and the (Neoplatonic) discipline of focusing on spiritual things to draw closer to God; is Jesus the only way? and religious pluralism; the nature of Jesus; the nature of evil; the distinction between Creator and creation; the influence of Platonic thought on Christian education throughout the centuries and its problems.
We also had a stimulating discussion centering around the questions, “Who is Jesus?” One can easily spurt out, “Oh, he’s my Lord and Savior.” But if you trip away the “churchy” language everyone uses and really, really ask yourself who he is to you and what he really means to you (if anything), it might be harder than you think it is. One reason I believe that it is so hard is because that question is also a very personal question as well.
You can read our essays here.
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 go over all of Book II of Confessions for our next meeting.
In this Book , Augustine describes the onset of adolescence (he was around sixteen at the time – c. 370-371 AD) and enters what he seems to consider the most lurid and sinful period of his life. He describes how he returned home after having spent a year in Madaura, a nearby city where he had gone to study rhetoric. His parents had now expended their meager resources for his schooling, which led the young Augustine to take a year off and give him the opportunity to get into some trouble. He “ran wild,” he writes, “in the jungle of erotic adventures…and became putrid in [God’s] sight.”
Have to see this one day.