St Augustine Pt 2 and Love

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must thank Loyal Minion Dr. (Infidel) Rusty Shackelford for the linky-love yesterday. It caused a little “Jawa-lanche” here at Naked Villainy. Don’t fret. Your Maximum Leader has piles of unused bandwidth - so keep visiting.

Dr. Rusty placed a siginifcant quotation from Augustine’s masterpiece “City of God” on his site. Your Maximum Leader will reproduce the salient point.

Whoever gives even moderate attention to human affairs and to our common nature, will recognize that if there is no man who does not wish to be joyful, neither is there any one who does not wish to have peace.

For even they who make war desire nothing but victory,–desire, that is to say, to attain to peace with glory. For what else is victory than the conquest of those who resist us? and when this is done there is peace. It is therefore with the desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle.

And hence it is obvious that peace is the end sought for by war. For every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. For even they who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish it changed into a peace that suits them better.

They do not, therefore, wish to have no peace, but only one more to their mind.

Peace more suited to their desires… There is a reason that St. Augustine is, and will be long remembered, and why so many others will not be remembered.*

Anyhoo…

The discussion of war and peace is a rather cheap segue for your Maximum Leader to pose a moral question to his readers. A moral question he’s been thinking a lot about in the past few weeks. Here it is:

What does it mean to follow Jesus’ admonition to “love thy neighbor?”

Really. Think about that for a moment. What does it mean? What does it mean practically?

Your Maximum Leader recently listened (twice) to an interview with Karen Armstrong (the noted theologian). During the interview she noted that the great monotheistic traditions all call for action tied to belief. Religion calls on you to “do something” and not just to “believe something.”

When Jesus said that we should love our neighbors what did he mean? Your Maximum Leader, in a glib sense, actually does like his neighbors quite a bit. Those blessed to live in the environs of the Villainschloss are good people. But your Maximum Leader will concede that this is notthe meaning that Jesus intended.

So what does it mean? There are lots of “neighbors” in your Maximum Leader’s extended community. Is he to love them like he does his family? Is he to tolerate them and be on his best behavior with them? Is he to approve of what they do? Of how they act? Is he to attempt to better their lot in life through his own action? Is writing weekly checks to his favorite charities enough? Is keeping the less-fortunate in his prayers enough?

What is the extent or type of love he must show his neighbor in order to live up to Jesus’ command?

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure of the answer right now. Although he thinks that he is on the right path when he is thinking to himself that he shouldn’t allow his neighbor to be victimized by injustice. Surely that is a broad and sort of wishy-washy or “feel good” definition for now. (Perhaps it is a little new-agey even.) But allow him to explain.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t feel that he needs to go far out of his way (or out of his way at all in fact) to help the crack addict who has lost everything to feed their addiction. That person made (at some point) a choice to take the crack and start down that path. (Your Maximum Leader thinks it is safe to assume that it is fairly common knowledge that crack isn’t good for you.) They are not victims of any injustice there. They are victims of their own bad choices.

On the other hand, many people of the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana are likely the victims of an injustice. They have not been well served by their elected representatives (at any level) and they continue to suffer because of this disservice. What can your Maximum Leader do? He can give money to local relief organizations. He can write Congress to conduct more oversight on how disaster recovery is going. He can volunteer to build a house, or clean up a homesite. There are lots of things that can be done.

These are (as they always are for arguments it seems) extreme examples. But perhaps they are a starting point. If you Maximum Leader can admonish you to do something, it would be to think for a little today about what it means to love your neighbor.**

Carry on.

* - Speaking of remembrance of St. Augustine… Is it just your Maximum Leader who thinks that Augustine is given rather short shrift in the Catholic world nowadays? What is up with that? Sure Saints (and Doctors of the Church) like Aquinas are always in fashion. But people don’t give it up for Augustine like they used to? Is it the whole theodicy thing and how sinful man is? Does that turn people off who are looking for more warm and friendly Saints from bygone ages.

If you are looking for saints that appeal more to the modern reader try the category known as “Holy Virgins.” Take Saint Germaine of Pibrac for example.

** - This goes equally for our Muslim and Jewish as well as Christian readers. After all, Jesus is a prophet in Islam and his teaching are revered. And in the Jewish tradition there are plenty of Talmudic admonitions with close enough meanings as to apply in this case.

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