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Friday, March 11, 2011

Appropriating Augustine

The first book of Augustine's Confessions is available online here. The Confessions read like prayers or psalms, which inspires me to take license with Augustine's thoughts and adapt them to my own thinking. For example, in this first chapter of the first book, consider the understanding of God as everything in the world and then some. There is an aspect of God, then, that is awe inspiring. This is an aspect of God that we acutely experience while standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or out in the open ocean, many other natural and scientific wonders. I think of this as a prayer to that God, which is all creation.
And man desires to praise thee, for he is a part of thy creation; he bears his mortality about with him and carries the evidence of his sin and the proof that thou dost resist the proud. Still he desires to praise thee, this man who is only a small part of thy creation. Thou hast prompted him, that he should delight to praise thee, for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee. Grant me, O Lord, to know and understand whether first to invoke thee or to praise thee; whether first to know thee or call upon thee. But who can invoke thee, knowing thee not? For he who knows thee not may invoke thee as another than thou art. It may be that we should invoke thee in order that we may come to know thee. But "how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe without a preacher?" Now, "they shall praise the Lord who seek him," for "those who seek shall find him," and, finding him, shall praise him. I will seek thee, O Lord, and call upon thee. I call upon thee, O Lord, in my faith which thou hast given me, which thou hast inspired in me through the humanity of thy Son, and through the ministry of thy preacher.
Everything quoted is from the Bible. Citations omitted.

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