Augustine and The City of God.

Somehow, a few months ago I was inspired to purchase the abridged (one volume of 549 pp) version of this historical Christian classic written over a three-year period in the early part of the 5th century.

Yes, I’ve been paging through and skipping some of this age-old classic along with some biographical information about Saint Augustine, when this hit me: “History was a neglected discipline in the later Roman Empire; the great historians of the past, Tacitus and Herodotus, were neglected, their writings used only as quarries for illustrations by the rhetoricians. The philosophy of the age was anti-historical, as if the end of history had arrived.” [1]

In this age of technology dominating our lives 24/7 who has time to read history. We look at the past as irrelevant to us because daily, we accomplish much more, so much easier, and traveling through the clouds, than having to work hard each day to put food on the table, to hunt and gather it, to keep the tent aired out, to find wood to burn to heat the coffee beans. As a student in our public-school system, all I remember of studying history was dates and names of the kings, rulers, tyrants defeating other kings, rulers, and tyrants in wars costing the lives of millions of other peasants, barbarians, subjects and soldiers.

We really haven’t changed much at all then.

But how did someone acquire so much knowledge and wisdom back in the days of riding camels, horses and trudging by sandals of leather, reading in the evening under the light of candles and sleeping on the ground inside a tent under sheep skins? Huh? How? Amazing isn’t it. The Bible itself did not become wide spread until the Gutenberg press was invented a thousand years after Augustine read the Latin papyrus scroll Old Testament and the Greek version of the New on parchment animal skin codex, and then becoming convinced that Christianity is real, is true, that the reality of all things is we are all descendants of Adam and Eve through Noah and his wife, that the Creator of all things insists that He alone be worshiped.

And now our hundreds of protestant denominations and the Roman Catholics argue about just that: how should we worship the creator of all things? What does it mean to worship? Do I have to give up something to worship, or is reading one of the current translations of the Bible for ten minutes each day enough? Is the Ten Commandments for us today or were they nailed to the cross and we’re free to do our own thing just so long as we treat others the same way we want to be treated?

The end of history has arrived, so relax as we’ll be out of here soon.

But now excuse me as I step on some toes, mine included.

Just like Adam and Eve, we desire the fruit of the garden of plenty by being glued to the Smart TV, posting an update on FB, a new message on the Smart Phone and catch up on the latest scores, political shenanigans and tomorrows weather on the computer.

“The attraction of leisure ought not to be empty-headed inactivity, but in the quest or discovery of truth, both for his own progress and for the purpose of sharing ungrudgingly with others. Nor should the man of action love worldly position or power (for all is vanity under the sun) . . . but . . .  of contributing to the eternal salvation of those committed to one’s care.”  P 461 City of God.

The tools we use is all that has changed, as now we are able to access all this history comfortably seated in a warm house by pressing carefully selected keys on a plastic keyboard.

 

  1. https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2015/augustine-and-the-city-of-god/

Author: Arnold Kropp

About the Author. Back in the days when I was a kid growing up in south Chicago, freely roaming around the neighborhood was common and just a part of life in the late 40's and early 50's. A train track was less than a mile away and a favorite place to walk along the rails. A large city park was a bit closer with areas of dense trees and areas of open grassy picnic grounds. A public golf course was just two blocks away, but the famed 4-lane busy Western avenue had to be crossed to get to it, and we crossed in the middle of the block running between the cars and trucks. We knew the risks. In the winters, we would climb that fence making our way to one of the ponds, we’d push and shovel away the snow and play a spontaneous game of hockey, or bring a sled and slide down the hillside ; no adults, no special padding, just a group of kids enjoying the contest. Dad was at work, mom was home tending to the washing and preparing the family meal for promptly at 6 pm. Life was good. It was fun. Sunday mornings were dress up in suit and tie, polished shoes for Sunday school and the worship service, then to a restaurant. Arnold went on to college immediately after high school, but could not find a subject, a major that was really up his alley, so he enlisted in the Army and served in Germany during the years the Berlin wall was built. Seeing what effects Soviet communism had on the people of East Germany left an impression on him. During those years, he would write many long letters home starting a desire to write more than just letters. Many years later Arnold developed a blog where he posted hundreds of articles on the political side of American life. Some of those are available in the collection named "Ramblings". Today, Society is totally different from that of the 50's, a whole lot different. Today, it has become scary to let the kids roam. Today it has become organized to the hilt with 2nd graders playing organized football. In my present relatively quiet neighborhood, I do see kids walking the streets, but there is a difference as the kids seem to be apprehensive and on guard or intently operating a telephone as they walk, not running after each other. Today, the above freedoms of the 50's are suspect and avoided as being dangerous activities. And that is sad. It's sad that today's kids do not have that freedom, and it may be having a direct effect on their development. Consider, one fact that is readily apparent today compared to yesterday; the preponderance of overweight and obese kids, even pre-school kids are heavier than we were, and this has to be affecting the rest of their daily lives. No doubt about it. But, I'd better hush, can't talk about those things. Yes, in the 50’s there were Semi-trucks, public transportation, murders, rape, robberies, house fires, sickness and diseases resulting in death, and yes, there were deadly vehicle accidents too. There was even poverty and homosexuals too. We went to public schools, and the high school was integrated. This was Chicago, but those events did not make the headlines, as news was only broadcast at 6pm and possibly 10pm nightcap. Days of the cold war kept us together as a nation. We saw the "Victory at Sea" war clips before the main feature at the theaters. And now technology dominates life. A cell phone in every handy pocket posting selfies. A computer saving everything to one of those cumulous clouds. Room size TV’s broadcasting everything 24/7. This is more information than I want. Let me decide something. I think. therefore, I am. I was born a male, therefore I am. I was born-again, therefore I am. I have life within, therefore I am. The news is not my guide. The TV is not my Sheppard.

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