Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How could they?

I am amazed at the ancients.  I was inspired to pick up Augustine's Confessions today, and I marvel at the detail of his account and the depth of his insights.  Before he came to Christ, he struggled with discovering truth.  He tested the ideas of the prevalent gnostic religion of the day, and his search for truth led him to Jesus.

After these years of searching and discovery, Augustine wrote multiple books, commentaries and essays.  He drank deeply of the classical works of Greek philosophy and passed the truths of these non-Christian writers along to Christian thinkers.

What amazes me his how prolific men like Augustine were.  They read and studied vast works of the thinkers before them.  And they did it without the incandescent light bulb, and without reading glasses.  I imagine that large-print scrolls were hard to come by, too.

Then, they wrote so thoughtfully.  I would feel quite accomplished if I could just read all the works of Augustine.  But he read all the works of all the ancient philosophers, grappled with the ideas, came to his own conclusions and THEN wrote voluminously about them. 

Today we have word processors.  (Wish I had a computer back in my college days.)  We have spell checkers in our computers and thesauruses on line.  We have lights and glasses to help us see.  The information available to us in an instant is staggering.

And, yes, there are a lot of people who write a lot of stuff today. But rarely do we find someone as thoughtful and profound as Augustine.  It's not hard to see how someone could write volume after volume today--it's easy.  So how did they do it hundreds of years ago?  I'm amazed.

Now for my confession.  I began reading Confessions probably 15 years ago.  I'm maybe a third of the way through the book.  But today, for the first time, I think I get it.