One of the most common blog posts I have read over the years has been the obligatory apology to the blogging world (or to the blog itself as if it had some human quality to be actually mad at someone) when the writer has for one reason or another neglected the blog. This always seemed odd to me. Who really cares anyway (I highly doubt anyone has been distraught at my infrequent posts as of late), but yet we always seem to feel the need to give an explanation as to where we have been.
That was my way of saying where I have been as of late, and that is reading a monstrous biography on Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown. Some may or may not know I am in seminary work, moving towards an M.Div, and of course this biography was part of that work. This biography was probably one of the longest, most in depth biographies I have ever read. It was not a light read, but it left me with a sense of intrigue for the life of the great theologian of the 4th-5th century.
In a time when the theology of the early church was still being hammered out, it gave me a sense of how little (or perhaps how prized) original thought is to us in the 21st century, and the Internet has proven Ecclesiastes 1:9 is so true. The more information we have at our finger tips, the harder it seems to be able to express an original thought. Within seconds I can pull up Google Books and be able to read the Divjak letters penned by Augustine himself, yet compiling thoughts of my very own that haven’t been already said seems impossible. I have a huge list of reasons for going back to school, not only to follow what I hope to be God’s will for my life, but to be able to dig deep into His world, and learn how to think again. Augustine said that he learned more from writing than he did from reading. Today I fear, with more information available to us than any other time in history, we do little of either.
The amount of information we have at our finger tips has made, at least my knowledge, surface deep on many levels. I have always tried to learn a little about a lot of things, which has taught me that I know a great deal about nothing, which is the difference between reading an article on the Internet and a book the breadth of Brown’s biography. It took me several weeks to get through it, but it was time well spent. The only problem with the book was that it was so well footnoted that it gave me many more books that I would love to read, like Augustine’s classic Confessions or the City of God, if I could only squeeze more time into a day.