Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Another good thing I read last month

Another thing I really enjoyed last month was Henry Chadwick's Life of St Augustine. Because I read it on my kindle I can paste in here a few of the clippings I took as I read.

Augustine was still in process of discovering that ordinary churches are not places where half-educated fools imagine they worship God while the wise men are in a country villa studying oriental mysticism and Plotinus.
Loc. 624-25

But Augustine has no fear of the natural sciences. Rather his fear is of theologians, orthodox in intention, who try to treat the book of Genesis as a source-book for science without realizing the very different purpose of the sacred book. Like Mani, they merely end in writing bad science and bring discredit on their faith. By pursuing science our minds may grasp everything in heaven and earth, but still remain baffled at the problem of human nature and destiny (AO 4. 6. 7-9. 13).
Loc. 964-67

'Educated Christians like myself', he wrote to Simplician (DS 1. 2. 22), 'expect God's grace to prefer people of greater natural ability, higher standards of behaviour, and superior education in the liberal arts. In fact God mocks my expectations.'
Loc. 977-78

He felt it to be a characteristic of Christianity that the basic essentials of its gospel are plain to the simplest mind, yet that its ramifications are of such complexity that a lifetime is nothing like enough to master them, even for the most gifted intelligence (E 137. i. 3).
Loc. 1307-9

Demosthenes once replied to someone asking him the three first principles of oratory that they are first, Delivery, second, Delivery, and third, Delivery. The Christians say the same of Humility (E 118. 3. 22). The incarnation is rejected where it is offensive to that pride to which it is God's answer.
Loc. 1430-32

The Manichees thought the evils of this world too massive to be explicable by the free-will defence. They saw evil in conflicts of interest. They thought Neoplatonic talk about evil as non-being would quickly change if you put a scorpion into the philosopher's hand (an argument which Augustine thinks unfair to the interests of the scorpion, which has its due place in the beauty of a diverse world).
Loc. 1586-88

Let him have the last word: 'I should wish no one to embrace all my teaching except in those matters in which he has seen that I have made no mistake.... I have not followed myself in everything. I think that by God's mercy I have made progress in my writing, but not at all that I have reached perfection.... A man is of good hope if the last day of his life finds him still improving' (DP 21. ss)
Loc. 1772-75

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