Monday, April 18, 2005

Book III

“I came to Carthage, and all around me in my ears were the sizzling and frying of unholy loves.”

Augustine describes, meditates, and ruminates on, at length, his college experience. It is amazing to see that the experience is no different now than when it was in the late 300’s in the Roman Empire. He writes of going to the theatre. No lover of the theater would appreciate his puritanical commentary! After what, 20 years, Augustine is very dismal in conveying any appreciation of the theatre. He tells of being associated with a group of arrogant, malicious fellow students called the, Subverters. Even then he felt ashamed of them.

Augustine tells of his admiration of the style of Cicero. And then tells of his reading of Hortensius and how it turned him on to philosophy. At this time too, Augustine chose to explore the Holy Scriptures, but decided that they were unworthy to be compared to the grandeur of Cicero.

“And so I fell in with a sort of people who were arrogant in their madness, too fond of the flesh and too fond of talking, in their words were the snares of the devil and a kind of birdlime compounded out of the syllables of your name and that of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.”

“But you were inside me, deeper than the deepest recesses of my heart and you were above me, higher than the highest I could reach.”

At this time in his life, Augustine asked the question about the origin of evil with respect to God, just as so many people today ask the same.

He goes on at length about the law of God and man. Quintessentially Augustinian, he cites the crimes of the men of Sodom, and then again invokes the metaphor of lust: “Such sins fall under these headings, and they spring from the lust of power, the lust of the eye, the lust of feeling…”

Throughout this Book and elsewhere, there are many allusions to Plato’s cave. Most strongly, in Book III: “…you hear the groanings of the prisoners and you free us from those fetters which we have made for ourselves.”

Just as some college students today get involved in new age religions, cults, and various off-the-beaten track beliefs, Augustine writes of his involvement with Manichaenism.

Augustine describes the deep anguish of his mother, Monica, over his sins and heretical beliefs

“And you stretched out your hand from on high and drew my soul out of that deep darkness.”

I am leaving out all of Augustine’s philosophical and theological commentary surrounding these events. They are substantial, and I believe have had great influence on Christian thinkers since then.

I think that the "moral" of the story is that for a student who was raised with the right values, that no matter how misguided or confused they may appear while in school, that if they pursue the truth, they will find it. Or it them.

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