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July 23rd 2009

     In order to provide for his divinity, a dubious miracle was attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo.  Upon his deathbed the brave man healed a sick person.  And he did so apparently after muttering, "If I had any power to heal the sick I would likely have already tried to heal myself." 

    800 or so years later Saint Thomas Aquinas achieved divinity through what in my view was a purely political process.  Aquinas was a theological rock star.  His performance at the pulpit might have rivaled that of Michael Jackson on stage.  And sometimes at mass he would enter an existential reverie that in another place might have resulted in competency hearings.  His miracle I suggest was stardom.

    

 

    Saint Augustine of Hippo in that crisis of understanding that changed him from a wonderful womanizing drunkard into a celibate, saw a moment of revelation during which he heard a small sing song voice tell him to "take up and read".

    Saint Thomas Aquinas, one afternoon in his later years, put down his quill and announced, "The end!"    Aquinas reckoned he had received, during recent reverie, secrets that had made everything he had ever written redundant.  Aquinas never wrote again.

    It was a crisis 800 hundred years later experienced by Wittgenstein.  "Some things," Wittgenstein said, "cannot be uttered." 

    Yes, I have paraphrased these thinkers in a most disgraceful manner.  But each had a well documented calling.  And in them the slope of understanding was needy.

tim candler

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