Sunday, June 19, 2016

Augustine: Faith Must Come First (Addition to "The Apology Box")

          Augustine’s Lines and Acrostic
                     (A bishop of Hippo)

Si fallor, sum! I no doubt must exist
However fraught with error since to err
I must be there to do the errant thing.
Pure skepticism therefore can't be true
And truth I set off early to pursue. 

The Manicheans moved my ears with tales
Of light and dark in endless war they proved
Through daily combat of the light and dark,
Through daily rise and fall of suns and stars,
Through all our politicians and our priests
Forever mixed in virtue and in vice--
Such Manichean proof was powerful for
A youthful head untrained in reason or
How easily a fact can be a whore.

In time, I learned the syllogism and
Abandoned Manichean foolishness--
By definition good lacks evil.  Hence,
The good and evil cannot be conjoined
In such theatric struggle.  Thus, I turned
To logic and more careful use of words,
Learned rhetoric, but soon I wanted more--
I'd not forgotten my "si fallor, sum!"  
Through Plato I found changeless Truth and Good
Which briefly brought great pleasure though it vexed
Me next.  If real is really past all change
(Which seems required, too, if God foreknows all),
Must that not mean that everything was set
In stone from the beginning?   Thus poor Eve
Was forced to sin, the serpent to deceive?
I flailed about until I could perceive:

All inquiry of course fails where I am
Beliefless.  Credo ut intelligam--
How can I seek an answer unless I
Am clear first on the means with which to try?
Faith must come first to put some terms in place
That we can use for parsing up a case.
Gathering up my thoughts, I thus confessed
Raw sin throughout my life.  In faith, I'd rest
And pray for undeserved last clemency
Content to rest in God's hands knowing the
Election might have long passed over me. 

© Harold Anthony Lloyd 2016

The current contents of "The Apology Box" can be found here.

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