Augustine’s Stories of Stories

In Book VII of his Confessions, Augustine takes on a particularly unique style, one in which he relays the stories of other individuals within his own story, his own confession. This might serve a couple of reasons. First, and most obviously, Augustine shows here that he is not the only one going through these soul-searching events. People all around him are going through both similar and completely different experiences. Therefore, they have their own unique set of barriers to overcome to grow closer to God. The idea of community, that they can attack their weaknesses together and march towards God as one body helps to unify both the purpose and the movement of Christianity. Another reason Augustine might bring into account these multiple stories of others could be to show how he compares himself to others in his own thought. Augustine is not only in deeply personal thought about himself and his actions, but in a mode of thought that involves others and his relationship to them. This way of comparing himself to others can serve as some sort of checkpoint and reference for Augustine in his decisions.

Authorship and Confessions

5. “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t chubby. Like being Indian, being chubby feels like it is part of my permanent deal.”

In the opening lines of Augustine’s Confessions, Augustine begins to define us humans as being born to praise God. It is in our blood, out history, our intrinsic values, he claims. We bear the mark of death to subdue any pride, and yet we still yearn to praise God. Our hearts find no content unless they have love, unless they praise God. Here, Augustine seems to say that, be it directly through God or through others, the love and praise we show is a direct correlation to our identity. The author in example five states in his/her opening lines what also appears to be a statement of identity: something intrinsic to one’s nature. It is permanent, like Augustine says our desire to praise God is, and thus becomes worth great value to us.

Nestorius first describes Christ’s coming as a result of the devil condemning humanity, and Christ coming to save us from death. This is partially true. Christ did come to save us from death, but not as a result of the devil’s works. God had always “planned” on the incarnation, the coming of the fully human, fully divine Jesus. It was not a result of some tragic event or flaw. Nestorius goes on to say how Jesus was not created by Mary, but somehow was made out of a Temple that she became for Him. This again separates the divinity from the humanity of Jesus. Nestorius finally brings his statement together and proclaims that he “divides the nature but unites the worship” of God, further splitting man from divine.

Cyril responds to this saying that God did not merely change and become fully human, but rather, in some incomprehensible way, became the Son of Man, divinely incarnate. He goes on to say the Logos of God suffered in its own nature, through the thorns and spikes of the cross. Cyril closes and summarizes his argument saying that God cannot be split into two here, but rather seen as taking on another identity, another Logos, through which His mission and love could be carried out.

Later Controversies: The Trinity

In  Arius’s Letter to Eusebius, Arius questions Eusebius about the reality of their faith. More specifically, he inquires what they truly believe about the Trinity, the three persons in one God. Many have always taught and believed that the Father came before the Son, and now they are being tried for heresy and some put to death. The teaching now is that the Son always with the Father and vice versa. In Athanasius’s Third Oration Against the Arians, the topic of Logos and the role it plays in the Father, the Son, and the Son’s knowledge of the Father’s plan for the Son comes up. Also, the controversy of the incarnation, being man and God at the same time, is presented and argued over. What I notice from this reading is the continued direct citation of text. While this can be useful in many research-type formats, with Scripture, the text must not always be taken literally. The text is divinely inspired, only an attempt to convey the true message of God, the Truth.

Human Achievement

dbox_big_wtc-t2_wfc-dusk-2280x2360

I believe the planning and construction of the new World Trade Center to be a representation of humanity’s achievement at its finest. Not only does this campus represent great feats in structural and civil engineering and architecture, but it serves to make an emotional connection on a more personal level. The memorial of the old towers to the inclusion of parts of design of the old towers reminds us of our past, but allows us to grow and develop in a new way, stringer than ever before. Our past is what drives us to push forward, to innovate, to succeed. This site brings the American People together for its design and commerce as well as for the ways it touches our emotions: the fullness of life.

Acts of the Christian Martyrs

In this account of the final days of a handful of early Christians, it can be valuable to pay attention to the identity of the characters. Properly defining them and associating their actions with reasoning can not only help to understand the thoughts going through their heads, but can help the reader connect to the characters and learn to be more like them on a personal level. Specifically, over the course of the text, Perpetua develops a firm and faithful identity. From her condemnation, she roots herself firmly in the LORD. Even when her loving father begs her to denounce her faith, a request he does out of pure love for her, Perpetua realizes that love for the LORD must be kept closer than Earthly love, no matter how difficult this may be. In her vision of her life after death, Perpetua easily passes the dragon and climbs the treacherous and deadly ladder out of pure trust in God, reinforcing her faithfulness. Finally, Perpetua is stripped and enters the stadium completely calm and expecting of what to happen, traits that can only possibly be found in the firm, faithful identity of Perpetua. She stares the devil in the face and fears not, for she knows the LORD is with her.

Apocalyptic Literature

I found the overall image of the turmoil of the earth and the eventual victory of God over the Devil in Revelation to be easier to understand that the smaller inclusions such as all the symbolism in the multiple heads, eyes, beasts, etc. It is hard to see what the deeper meanings are and also how numerous they are/ how much I should know about them.

John 1:1-5, 14

The prologue to John’s gospel serves as an introduction to God, not as a person, not as a being, but as the Word: the truth. This is exactly what was emphasized in multiple Old Testament accounts, from Genesis to God revealing Himself as I AM to Moses. God, and thus Jesus, is the Word, is life. He is how everything else is. He is light. When the Word became flesh, His glory, His truth was revealed to us. Jesus was a man, but He was so much more. He is God, He is light, He is truth, He is life. Much like the burning bush shone light and its thorns stood for God suffering for us, so does Jesus in His becoming man to save our souls.

Resurrection

According to Wright, Resurrection was a concept initially believed by the Pharisees as a way the social order wold finally be reinvented, being that they were near the bottom of it compared to the Sadducees. Though, first-century Jews did not think of resurrection as this intermediate state of “disembodied bliss,” but rather a sort of reembodiment. After different Christian notions moved through practice, the religion took on a clear view that resurrection meant passing through death to come to a completely new mode of existence.

Ratzinger expands on this by first examining the part of our creed which states, “He descended into hell,” reminding us that the silence of God is just as prevalent and important as the Word of God. It illuminates the reality that Jesus, after death, descended into a state of nonbeing. This in turn sets up the meaning of resurrection. In face of death, love demands more. It is more powerful. It triumphs over death. Resurrection is “the greater strength of love in the face of death.” Resurrection is about us as human beings discovering that we cannot live alone, and that it is only through God that we become more like ourselves. Resurrection is about putting love over life. It brings to light the concept that Jesus’ love for us was stronger than His need to live, and so in sacrificing one for the other, he was resurrected, and so are we.

The Poet and the Bookkeeper

In his Fresh Air interview regarding Argo, Ben Affleck comments on his role as a director and how when recounting true events, one comes to the controversy of the poet versus the bookkeeper. The bookkeeper would tell things exactly as they occurred, keeping things 100% historically accurate. This, however, is not possible when a movie has to be kept within a certain time limit. Thus, the director must assume the role of the poet. The question arises, asking whether or not the story stayed true or not to reality after a poet has touched it. Affleck believes that a good poet does in fact keep the soul of the story intact, but embellishes to capture emotions and things unseen by the public. I believe this to be just in its reasoning, and in a way, might better reflect the truth of the story. It is because it conveys events and emotions on a more personal level with the audience that, while remaining true to the soul of the story line, can help us to better understand the fullness of the event or story. Merely relaying facts and sticking to dialogue strictly might be more accurate, but people might not be able to grasp or connect with the complexity of the situation that really existed. This can be translated to reading the Gospels for similar reasons.