Virtual tour of early-Christian-era Rome

Rome a few decades before Augustine’s time.  Note especially the the vast size of both the aqueduct and the Circus Maximus!  Other large cities where Augustine lived – Milan, Carthage – would have looked similar.  Just as Western architecture and urban design are predominant in the world today, the rest of the Empire followed Rome in the early Christian era.  320, of course, is only 7 years after the Edict of Milan legalized Christianity.  One big difference between this landscape and the landscape of Augustine’s time would have been an increase in the number of Christian churches.

Gandalf quotes Augustine

I found a quote from Saint Augustine that I’d never heard before….and it reminded me of what Gandalf says to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.  Tolkein was a well-educated Christian, and I doubt that he placed these words in Gandalf’s mouth by accident.

Augustine’s words: 

Gandalf’s words: 

President Obama explains why I write

obama readingI just finished reading a wonderful article in the April issue of The Atlantic, which described a meeting that President Obama had with Marilynne Robinson.  This absolutely enchants me.  I’ve always been an Obama supporter, but now I’m seriously in love with him.  First, Robinson is one of my favorite writers.  Second:  The PRESIDENT met with a NOVELIST because…well, I can’t state it any better than he did:  “When I think about how I understand my role as a citizen, setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels.  It has to do with empathy.  It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays, but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that.  And the notion that it’s possible to connect with someone else even though they’re very different from you.”  That’s why I read, that’s why I write, and that’s why I am now the President’s most starry-eyed and abject fan-girl.

Augustine and Manicheism

Here’s a brief article that summarizes Manicheism and Augustine’s original attraction to the sect.

Was Saint Augustine an anti-feminist?

No, argues this excellent talk from 1994: I agree. He was a man of his time and fallible,16Augustine and certainly couldn’t have conceived of women as the equals of men in the City of Man.  But he undoubtedly saw men and women as equal in the City of God.  And, being the son of the indomitable Saint Monica, it is inconceivable to me that he would not have respected women’s intellect and moral strength.  That’s why I had to give him a strong, smart, spiritually indomitable mate in The Saint’s Mistress.

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