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Personal/Theology Notebook: Augustine's Confessions; Johannine class; Invite to Preach; Michelle

A most unparticularly-Irish St. Patrick's Day. I could at the very least wish for the standard Mass on the Feast of St. Patrick at Notre Dame. Classes sucked up a lot of the day, but were generally fun. The Augustine class was painfully quiet in face of some brutal conclusions from the Confessions. I mean, it was positively grim as Augustine came to the conclusion that the force of habit--the warping of our wills--could not be corrected simply by the exercise of that same will-power. I had to admit that I could understand the silence, in the sense that it was almost humiliating to have Augustine diagnose our collective weakness or corruption right in front of us. Then the ever-plucky Martha, who I'd gotten to know over at the Brew, popped up and said Augustine was just being weak and that he should and could fight the force of his bad sexual habits with the cultivating of positive, opposing habits. That got some things going in the class. We continued the discussion for a while even after things broke up. Fun.

I had forgotten that we were going over my John exegesis (in my March 4th entry) today in the Johannine Tradition class. Since I'd finished it and handed it out two weeks ago, it had slipped my mind until Shawnee mentioned it at the library last night. It seemed to be pretty well received: lots of compliments at my re-interpretation of the whole Thomas encounter, except for Zorhab, our Armenian Orthodox priest, who blasted me precisely for going against the traditional reading purely on account of it being the traditional reading. This was fascinating just for seeing the strength of tradition in exegesis in that Tradition: that continuity in reading the Scriptures had a power that was more than just what might be dismissed in the West as "inflexibility" or "a lack of openness to other possibilities." I guess I could see that in something that was of irreplaceable doctrinal significance, like the Prologue to the Gospel of John, but it was eye-opening and interesting here.

I got the best compliment of the afternoon/evening from the Rev. Amy Richter (who, I admit, I love calling "Father Amy"), who has been my classroom/whisper-in-the-corner buddy through Luke/Acts last spring and John this spring. She asked me if I'd preach on the text in the Easter season at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where she is the Rector. I was a bit floored: there's an act of faith for you! But she said that she could tell from how I wrote it (and Fr. Kurz had some criticism of it lacking an academic tone at points) that I could deliver it well. And I admit that I wrote it to be spoken--to be heard as a lesson, since that's how I'm used to transmitting ideas. So that could be great fun. Preaching is the one thing that most attracts me to the priesthood when those random urges hit--the opportunity to teach in that moment of the homily, an opportunity that's lost all too often it seems to me in bad homilies. Now I'll have to put my money where my mouth is....

Other good points of the day, but those are perhaps the only (remotely) "newsworthy" ones. Michelle Dougherty defends her dissertation tomorrow and Friday night is set aside as a blow-out party to celebrate that. Good times. We already had some good feastings in preparation of it all....
Tags: augustine, biblical studies, books, friends-marquette era, grace and freedom/nature, johannine literature, mysticism/spirituality, personal, priesthood, theological notebook, writing
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