Getting crap into the system by getting it out of your system

Vitabrevis  I'm reading Vita Brevis by Jostein Gaarder. He's rather better known as the author of Sophie's World, an introduction to philosophical thinking. Gaarder's specialism is verbal puzzles and mysteries – which I think he does with a considerably lighter touch than a Mr Dan Brown. Vita Brevis is a rebuttal of Augustine of Hippo's views on sex from the perspective of his long term partner and mother of his son Adeodatus.  Augustine as one of the last and most influential of the church fathers casts a long shadow. He is the inventor of the doctrine of original sin, the idea that the virus of evil is transmitted from human to human at the point of conception.  Augustine was perhaps one of the earliest writers with a conception of the self and self disclosure which is entirely familiar to us. His autobiography Confessions is a literary and spiritual classic.  In the confessions Augustine is frank about his sexuality and what he terms his weakness.  Although on paper Augustine masters his demons (sending his lover away, keeping their son(!) adopting a life of celibacy and becoming a bishop) his views of sexuality are so repressed and conflicted that the theology he produced has caused untold damage in the 15 centuries which have followed.  In this reply – Floria the lover offers an alternative viewpoint – that in mutual love and healthy sex God may be discovered more readily than through denial, rejection of ordinary life and preparation for some intangible afterlife.  Augustine turns his back on human love to save his soul. This novel suggests he  made the wrong decision.

Its a reminder that whatever comes out will come out repress it how you will. Angela Tilby in her book on Science and the Soul – the new cosmology makes a similar case for Isaac Newton whose physics come from deism. If you can't relate to a God inside the universe then you produce the kind of physics that turns the world into a mechanism set to autopilot. The science comes out of the belief system and is strongly shaped by it. I'm afraid its one of the laws of crap – if you don't get rid of it then it just turns up somewhere else in your life and does even more damage.

 

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