|What Augustine taught me
When I was first investigating whether I could possibly consider becoming a Christian, I started reading some of the classics in the field. Among them was Augustine's Confessions, which I'd somehow managed not to encounter in my various surveys of Western Civilization. In addition to being the story of his own (somewhat problematic) faith journey, the final part of the book is an unfinished exegesis of the Bible.
What I didn't expect was to encounter an enthralling intelligence. Written in the 5th Century, this material would run rings around any contemporary fundamentalist (for example) proof-text. My anti-religious bigotry had somehow persuaded me that it wasn't possible to be a believer and an intellectual at the same time. Augustine started the process of convincing me otherwise.
I was reminded of this because Garry Wills has written a sarcastic article comparing Augustine's response to scandal with that of America's contemporary cardinals. One of the attributes of Augustine's faith was his belief in the need for honesty and consistency in life and thought. And he was really strict about it too, with himself as with others.