A few years back, we got to talking with our chum Father James of the Tonsure. Although we were both reasonably smart guys with a taste for traditional theology, it turned out that neither of us had ever read St. Augustine's City of God. It's just so long and ... hard.
Seriously. You guys know how much we love St. Augustine. We like the Confessions, we adore the sermons, we are keenly interested in his arguments against the Pelagians and (to a lesser degree) Manichaeans, his use of the Psalms to derive a description of sin as being incurvatus -- bent over toward the earth, and unable to face upward toward heaven. We love that he is, like John Donne, one of those writers in whom sex, religion and politics are all mixed up together.
We're Lutheran, for pity's sake -- Augustine is in our blood. But the City of God is one of those books, like the Summa or Proust or the entire shelf of Cerebus the Aardvark, that sits there, mountainous in its size and abysmal in its depth, terrifying the faint of heart and foiling the casual skimmer. So, to our shame and sorrow, we've read about it without ever reading it.
Back in the day, we talked with Fr. James about reading it together, over the course of a year or so, sharing notes to keep each other going. It was a promising idea, but then Father Anonymous and his family relocated to Transylvania for a few years of vampire-hunting in the Carpathians, and nothing ever came of the virtual sojourn to ancient Africa. His continuing professional education devolved into language tutoring (and, of course, the compilation of that neat little Latin/English breviary you can purchase by clicking on the right sidebar). His pleasure reading, during those years, consisted largely of the The Economist and some Romanian newspapers.
Now, at last, things have settled down a bit. The Egg's publishing headquarters is located in bucolic Fauquier County, a place no New Yorker can name without lapsing into vulgarity. The parish is busy but stable, and the obscure machinations of the Hungarian nobility are an ocean away. We do need to make time for developing the Adventures of Purple and Nine, a cartoon which will change the world, but that will get easier come the Epiphany.
So now is our chance to climb the mountain, metaphorically speaking. This year we, God willing and the creek don't rise, we will finally read De Civitate Dei Contra Paganos, all XXII libri.
And more than that, we plan to blog the blessed thing.
Not here, though. The Egg remains our suppressed voice, the escape valve to vent those things the congregants don't need or want to hear -- ideas about sex, politics and (pathetically) religion. It will stay cranky, obscurantist, and first-person plural. But Augustine deserves better treatment. So for him, we need to adopt a tone that is gentler and more direct -- and it won't hurt to have a website dedicated solely to this particular voice and project.
To which end, we offer Most Glorious City. It's another Blogger site, deliberately simple-looking. Over time, we'll expand its offerings to include many, many more links to online Augustiniana. But its only real purpose is to serve as a notebook for our reflections on the City of God.
We hope some of you will be moved to read along. Pick up a copy (it's probably on your shelf already) and join us. We're planning to move very, very slowly. It may take us a year to read the whole thing. It may take us longer. But it should be fun.