An ancient confession

It’s a book that chased me around. Recommended, referenced, and mentioned, so I read it. I bought myself the abridged Penguin version with the pretty cover that said ‘God grant me chastity and continence but not yet.’

An awfully familiar line around here. Something you'd say to yourself to silence your conscience when you habitually do something wrong.

This saint had a mistress and a son born out of wedlock. He had a mother too, and she never stopped praying for him. He knew this of course but was determined to do things by enquiry and reason, more so than faith. He harboured Manichean views before he turned Catholic.

At this point of reading the book, I am reminded of the saying that it is better to be stupid in truth rather than rationalising error. Sometimes being too intelligent just doesn’t pay. There are catalogues of views, opinions and thoughts right in front of us, each offering their different takes on things. The PC thing to say here is that every opinion is equally valid. History would tell us otherwise.

Maybe it’s not about validity, but about the right of every opinion to exist and be expressed so that they its claims may be taken apart and put back together for validation.

Humbleness must be what we need to always keep us grounded. St Augustine was fortunate to have received an epiphany that made him leave his world of sin. Miracles and epiphanies however aren’t much of an option for us earthier individuals, so that only leaves us with humbleness. The humbleness to listen to other people’s views and recognise their merits, but more importantly, the humbleness to listen to other people’s thoughts and recognise our faults.

The title of the book is 'Confessions of a sinner'. Don't bother reading if you aren't one.

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