19 May 2014

Augustine – 1; Lawrence – 0

Some months ago I blogged about Collin Garbarino’s 2014 reading programme for Augustine’s City of God (here). I decided to try it for myself and have managed to keep up. But now it is time to admit defeat.

Why? Well, in part because, although I have been able to make time to read the passage for the day, I have not been able to find the extra time needed to think about important sections when they have appeared. But mainly because, as Garbarino put it, ‘Augustine crams a lot of ancient learning into this one book’: if I have to read about what one more obscure Roman philosopher thought about the nature of demons . . . ! City of God may be the most important philosophical and theological work of the late Roman period, but the sections of lasting importance are seriously diluted by long tracts that can only possibly be of interest to historians of the period. (And to make matters worse Augustine was not above engaging in tendentious and ad hominem attacks on his opponents – I’m afraid it is only too obvious at times that he was a rhetor rather than a philosopher.)

04 May 2014

Give thanks in all things

Here’s something I came across while I was preparing a meditation to go with the poem we looked at in church on Palm Sunday. In this early poem, G.K. Chesterton outlines a spiritual discipline that should be part of the life of every Franciscan:

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, watching, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
  (G.K. Chesterton, Collected Works, Vol. 10, p. 43)

He neatly expands Paul’s advice to ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18, nrsv)