+JMJ+ In 2017 an experiment came to a close. A professor at Catholic University of America taught a course on St. Augustine’s City of God. That may not sound very experimental until I tell you that he taught the course on Twitter. Yep, for a few brief months Twitter was a shining light, a surprising beacon of hope in an otherwise nasty, snarling mess of murky mental midgetry and not infrequent lewdness and lunacy. It was a crazy idea and an ingenious one and I loved it.
Professor Pecknold shared quotes and insights using the hashtag #CivDei (from the title of the book in Latin, de Civitate Dei), participants read the source material, the professor’s tweets, asked questions, and offered their own insights. And a good time was had by all. I miss it very much.
At the end of the Twitter course #CivDei we were asked to share a brief summary of what it meant to us, something that made an impression on us. Here is my offering. Re-reading it tonight I can’t help but think of what’s happening around us, and not just in this country but around the world. If what I am going to share with you seems prophetic, it’s not due to me but to the inspired vision of St. Augustine. May he pray for us. The barbarians are at the gates and we have need of his powerful prayers now more than ever.
Augustine identified the will to power, more specifically, the will to dominate, as the libido dominandi: the lust to dominate which becomes the lust that dominates; the will to enslave others which, ultimately, enslaves the enslaver. The first thing I thought of when I read this was Tolkien’s Ring of Power. No one can use the Ring without in turn being used by it. I also heard echoes of Romans wherein Paul talks about how rebellious men knew God, yet “they did not honor him as God…but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened…” This was brought up in the very first session and it stuck with me all the way through the course. The people I hear screaming the loudest these days about freedom (and, often, their freedom from religion, from truth and reality) are the very ones who seem most enslaved by their overpowering lust to intimidate, dominate, and even eliminate everyone and everything around them.
May their hearts turn toward the Lord that they may have life and that abundantly. Blessed Mother, pray for us. Saint Augustine, pray for us. Amen.
Thank you for visiting and reading. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- City of God (Penguin Classics), by St. Augustine of Hippo, translated by Henry Bettenson: Paperback, Kindle. (Affiliate links, see full disclosure below for more.) This is the edition that Prof. Pecknold used and recommended for #CivDei. (Please note that this Penguin Classics edition in Kindle format is not listed on the main book page at the time of this writing. I found it finally but it wasn’t easy. The correct Kindle edition is linked above and I sent a note to Amazon about it. Hopefully they’ll correct it and make it easier for others to find it and buy it.)
- My summary was edited to add the photo of a riot. That summary is also as contained in a post by a fellow follower of #CivDei who included it in a blogpost of his own back in May of 2017. I can’t find his blog anymore, good thing I saved his post. (I’ve got the original copy of my summary around here somewhere on a different laptop, hopefully, in a database that I have yet to move to this one. So many projects, so little success in actually getting things done.)
Images: (1) The Two Cities of St Augustine’s City of God, Attribution required, CC BY-NC 4.0 License, source URL. (2) A riot in Europe, Adobe stock image.
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