Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book 100: The Confessions of Saint Augustine

"Whatever the reason, I was wretched. Every soul is wretched that becomes bound in friendship to perishable things. The soul is torn apart when the thing loved is lost. The wretchedness was perhaps always there, masked by the beloved thing that has been stripped away."

Dates read: October 28- November 1, 2016

Rating: 4/10

If I ever want to give myself a restless night, I start thinking about what happens when we die right before bed. Maybe I'll burn in the dark place for all eternity for not believing in a god. Maybe some part of who am I am will live on in some sort of incorporeal way. Maybe everything just stops. These are the times that I find myself wishing I had some kind of defined religious faith, that I could take comfort in the knowledge that life continues after death and that the good will be rewarded. Instead I get trapped in a loop of wondering and fretting.

I don't entirely write off the idea that I could come to buy into a belief system one day, but it seems pretty unlikely, honestly. But then again, it probably seemed pretty unlikely to the man who would become Saint Augustine, too. In his Confessions, he recounts his journey from being a young atheist living large and looking for answers with his intellect, to his eventual conversion to Christianity through the efforts of his mother, and the peace and security he found in his faith.

I found this book interesting more theoretically than in actuality. Although I'm not a believer, stories about faith (particularly people who came to faith rather than just continuing to believe what they have been taught since they were children) are intriguing...what makes a person decide to believe or renew a belief they had drifted away from? I suspect most of them would describe it the way that Augustine does, as a realization of a truth that they'd been looking for, consciously or unconsciously, throughout their lives. But the environment that produces that realization can vary...sometimes friends and family are involved, sometimes it's an intensely personal experience, sometimes it comes out of the blue, and sometimes right after a major life event that shifted perspective in a significant way.

I didn't realize until I'd already started it that the Kindle copy of the book that I was working with was an abridged edition. I'm not sure if that was a positive or a negative, honestly. While the book never really engaged me until the end, when Augustine gets more analytical about his beliefs, and I was therefore rather happy that there wasn't more of it to get through, perhaps that's because a more developed narrative would have been more compelling all along? I can't honestly say. I didn't personally enjoy reading this particular edition and wouldn't recommend it for a general audience, but for an audience curious and inclined to enjoy books about religion, this would be a worthwhile read.

Tell me, blog friends...Augustine is the patron saint of brewers, among other things. As a (former) attorney, my professional patron saint is Thomas More. I always have a Saint Christopher's medal in any car I drive. Do you have a particular patron sainthood that you identify with?

One year ago, I was reading: The Executioner's Song

Two years ago, I was reading: The Nazi Officer's Wife

No comments:

Post a Comment