Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Augustine Day by Day - July 12 - A Gradual Knowledge

"Since the flame that was to burn us up entirely had not yet flared up, my friends, and I thought that the glow emanating from Philosophy and our way of life that warmed us slowly was the greatest there could be. Suddenly some substantial books appeared and started up an incredible blaze in me. It was more powerful than I can bring myself to believe. After this, how could honor, human pomp, desire for empty fame, or the consolations of this dying life move me! Swiftly, I turned completely in upon myself."

-- Against the Academics 2, 2

Prayer. You, who always are, both before we were and before the world existed, have become for us a refuge in which we have turned to you.

-- Commentary on Psalm 89, 3

July 12

I believe one of the books, perhaps the chief book, Augustine is referring to is Hortensius's now-lost On Philosophy (or was it On Rhetoric?), a book that, according to his Confessions, set his soul on fire for wisdom, for the ultimate things. I think Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man did much the same for me in my pursuit of racial reconciliation and literary excellence.

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