Monday, November 8

Augustine: Confessions Considerations

For the last few weeks I've been embarking on a project of blogging my way though Augustine's Confessions. I thought I'd take a moment to consider, from whence I came, why, and where I am headed.

Somewhat recently, my interest in and my devotion to Christian faith were rekindled. This phenomena is not unknown, but it had occurred to me that the last times I studied much of matters concerning the Christian faith was before my college years. Needless to say, in the intervening time, I have learned a little about life, literature, and my facility for study has improved since that time. So now, I turned to the Christian lore, the Bible and 2000 years of Christian tradition since then. It turns out I am a little suspicsious of modern scholarship, so I determined to start early, to reread the Bible and work forward.

Augustine is regarded as one of the greatest of the Christian writers, which is a big reason why I came to hold this particular little book. The Confessions (with my recent rekindling in mind) had the virtue of being not a tome like City of God and also seemed highly regarded. As for Augustine himself, I carried into this project a misconception of him as a misogynistic Platonic scholar. As a result, I thought that the project might turn out for the best. Also, I will freely admit, my training in college did not truly prepare me for this sort of work. I was trained in math and science (physics) and work as a programmer. I have no real experience at so called "close-reading" of philosophic texts. Although, in my college days I will say I was given a taste of what it might entail. But seeing a thing done, and the doing are different animals.

Thus came the blog. With this new blogging habit of mine, the exercise of writing an essay/post (or so) on each Book has forced me to pay far closer attention to the text than if I had just read it over. Much more care, dare I say "close attention" had to be paid to the text as I read it, for I was going to have to report on what I read. As for Augustine, I have found him to be far more approachable a person than I anticipated. His concerns, considerations, "confessions", and spiritual journey was a far more immediate and compelling story than I would have thought. For example, Manicheism (the religion he adhered to prior to his conversion to Roman Catholicism) has a lot of parallels with the current "Scientism" prevalent in our secular society at large. The temptations of secular society existed for him then, just as it does for us today.

I am going to regret finishing this book, I begin to understand why so many of the commentators indicate they return to it often.

For my "essays/posts" on the first 8 books (of 13) here are the links:
  1. Book 1. part 1 2 and 3.
  2. Book 2
  3. Book 3.
  4. Book 4
  5. Book 5
  6. Book 6
  7. Book 7
  8. Book 8