Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

06 September, 2007

another hard day's work

They always say, when you have a lot of work to get through, to do the most challenging stuff first. It works. After this, the rest of my day was a cinch.

Seriously. Much of my life recently has been spent reading...and writing, but that will be covered on my next blog or two. I have had my work cut out for me to prepare for a semester teaching Shakespeare, early church history, and medieval literature. I have not read most of these things before, and I must say that Augustine has been the greatest treat of all. Here are some excerpts from the first few books that I found enlightening:

(1.5) My soul is like a house, small for you [O Lord] to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it.

(1.8) If babies are innocent, it is not for lack of will to do harm, but lack of strength.

(1.20) But my sin was this, that I looked for pleasure, beauty, and truth not in him but in myself and his other creatures, and the search led me instead to pain, confusion, and error.

(2.5) Again, it is gratifying to be held in esteem by other men and to have the power of giving them orders and gaining the mastery over them. This is also the reason why revenge is sweet.

(3.7) I did not know that evil is nothing but the removal of good until finally no good remains.

(3.8) Your punishments are for the sins which men commit against themselves, because although they sin against you, they do wrong to their own souls and their malice is self-betrayed.

I wish Christian literature resembled this still. Not to say that it is all rotten, but most of it either lacks depth or the quality of genuinity or theological verity. So it goes. I lack all of these things myself. So, perhaps what I really mean is, "I wish I were more like Augustine." But as I read on in the book, and particularly when I got the part about his conversion (sorry to spoil the plot for any of you out there who were hoping to read it soon), what really convicted me was that he really needed answers to the big questions, and he could not possibly rest until he found them out. I tend not to struggle with questions with deeply hidden answers. I think they are fun enough to discuss, but at the end of the day, I am not affected by my inability to arrive at a definite answer. Call it what you will, Augustine did not share my problem. All this to say, you should read the book.


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