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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.
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.
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.”
Here are our responses from last week on Augustine’s Confessions: Book I, Chapters 11 – 20.
We investigated Augustine’s thoughts on the relationship between the human condition and sin; baptism; mankind’s desire for wealth and fame; and his criticisms of educational institutions.
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.
This past Thursday we had our first fruitful discussion of Augustine’s Confessions.
We had interesting discussions on topics about who makes the first step in reaching out to us: God or us? Musings on life and death (even reincarnation) and the ‘sinfulness’ of infants and babies were discussed.
You can take a look at our responses here.
Hi everyone, we will be covering Book I, chapters 1 – 10.
Augustine titled his deeply philosophical and theological autobiography Confessions to implicate two aspects of the form the work would take. To ‘confess’, in Augustine’s time, meant both to give an account of one’s faults to God and to praise God or to speak one’s love for God. These two aims come together in the Confessions in an elegant but complex sense: Augustine narrates his ascent from sinfulness to faithfulness not simply for the practical edification of his readers, but also because he believes that his narrative itself is really a story about God’s greatness and of the fundamental love all things have for Him. Thus, in the Confessions form equals content to a large degree—the natural form for Augustine’s story of redemption to take would be a direct address to God, since it is God who must be thanked for such redemption. (That said, a direct address to God was a highly original form for Augustine to have used at the time).
Before we delve into Confessions, we will start exploring the development of Augustine’s philosophy and theology.
For a while, Augustine had been influenced by Manichaeism, a Persian adaptation of Christianity, which added in Zoroastrianism, speculative philosophy and superstition. Augustine was a Manichee for nine years. Then during a trip to Rome in 383, due to his education in the liberal arts, he began to question Manichaeism when he saw that its understanding of the universe owed more to astrology than astronomy.
The next year, he met the formidable figure of Ambrose, bishop of Milan. His great intellect and fiery sermons left a deep impression on Augustine. In Ambrose, Augustine found someone who could communicate at his own intellectual level, further confirming his rejection of the Manichees and opening the way for his return to the Christian faith.
I know that I stated that we’d be doing Augustine’s Confessions later on this month, but I’ve decided to hold off a bit longer to see if we can recruit some more people into the group, so we will not begin until June.
In the meantime, we will spend the rest of the month getting to know Augustine and the world he lived in better.
The video above gives an overview of Augustine’s philosophy and the world he lived in, which is vital to understand what and why he wrote. Although much of the video focuses on his monumental The City of God, we still get a good general overall sense of his beliefs, especially his political philosophy, and why he is still relevant today.