St. Augustine- Postmodernity Essay, Research Paper
What does St. Augustine have to say to post-modern culture?
I think that the most vital aspect in Augustine’s Confessions, more specifically his books “Student at Carthage” and “The birth-pangs of Conversion”, is the concept of True Love. Augustine tells us that love is paradoxically balanced between reason and passion, as both reason and passion can be both good and evil at some time or another. So it is not necessarily an equilibrium. The whole idea that love has to be right or wrong, hot or cold, or good or evil is cultivated in a very Western thought process. Eastern thought uses the analogy of a circle to explain thought or argument. There is no need to balance on pointy edges to “weigh” the pros and cons. There are no sides in a circle, and its’ focus is interminably the center of the circle, which gains strength from the entire circumfrence. To apply the anaolgy, Christ is the center, along with Faith and Truth. All three are in and of themselves, love, by definition. Christ is Love in humanity, Faith is Love in spirit, and Truth is Love surrounding an omnipotent creator. These are absolutes.
“I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”, claims Jesus. How can this be possible, we ask. God is the Ultimate Paradox, the True Mystery. This was the ending statement of Dante when he reached the highest heaven; no words can ever capture the essence of the Creator. “I AM” is a powerful statement in and of itself. Jesus is staking claims on the name YHWH, which cannot be uttered by the lips of his followers, but can be known only in a spirit of praxis, of action. Yahweh continuously “IS” and “IS” involved in the everyday lives of his people.
Good and evil, masculine and feminine, are all tired dialectics that make us wonder whether or not there’s more to it than the black and white. Thia rhetoric begins to bore us, as we think of plausible, however more complex, answers. All of these dyads are tied in the human art of linguistics. We have forced these constructions upon God as well. To use Foucault’s analogy, we have put God inside our box, on our canvas, and ended up painting his distorted likeness, a mere image so mangled, an object of idolatry. Without realizing that God is beyond out analogies, we force our analogies to become simply an image within itself.
History is circular, just as the pangs of conversion are circular. St. Augustine still has things to teach us postmodernists- like Truth. There is virtue. Christ is working and preparing for heaven and the end of the world, when he returns to the earth again.
Everything that is art- Dante’s Inferno included- in its’ true form, is a piece of the Divine in itself, or cosmos within chaos. They seek to find free-flowing connections between faith and reason, incorruptible within corruptible, and good within evil. These are the icons of truth that T.S. Eliot is reffering to when he speaks about objective correlatives. It becomes every writers’ goal. Find symbols that connect mind and emotion. Both Augustine and Dante try and emulate this.