Following up with St. Augustine’s “City of God”

Back in National Blog Post Writing Month, I mentioned that I was working my way through St. Augustine’s City of God with the idea that once I had finished it, I would write about it here on My Turn to Talk. I actually finished it back about a week before Christmas, but I got busy with a lot of other things and didn’t get a chance to write the post. But now that things have quieted down a little bit, I find I actually have the time to write about my thoughts.

City of God turned out to be a really good book to read during the Advent season because I came away feeling as if I had just been on a really intense spiritual journey. It might sound corny to say that, but it’s true. St. Augustine sets the truths of the Catholic Faith in front of you with such passion and clarity that you can’t help but get swept up in his writing. Plus, his writing feels as if you are covering all of human history, the past as well as the future. There were many times when I could identify with some of the scenarios in the Church and the world in general–heck, a lot of times I forgot this book was written nearly 2,000 years ago; so much of it is still relevant today. It was a refreshing glimpse of a world where people meant what they said and weren’t going to back down from the truth.

I mentioned that there were times I forgot the book was written so long ago, and that wasn’t just because of the familiar scenarios in the Church and the world. A lot of the scientific stuff that St. Augustine mentioned were things that we still teach in our classrooms today, which surprised me a little. Apparently the people who lived back then weren’t nearly so uneducated as historians like to claim they were. Yes, there were a few things he got wrong (he wasn’t sure if there was a continent on the other side of the ocean, and if there was, he didn’t think people could live there), but there were other things he got right even if he didn’t use the same terms we use today (he mentioned a man with two heads and multiple limbs which sounded to me like a case of conjoined twins). Also, he talked a little bit about a race of people that had the bodies of men but the heads of wolves–he had heard stories of their existence and was trying to determine if they had immortal souls or not (his answer was basically, “If they are descended from Adam, yes, they have immortal souls; just don’t ask me how they got the wolf heads”)–and for a while I was like, “Hey, werewolves are real, and St. Augustine talks about them!” (What can I say; I’m weird; I get distracted when saints say there might be real werewolves.) Oh, and there was another part, too, where he casually mentions that the first Good Friday was on March 25, and my reaction was along the lines of, “Dude! Do you know how many internet debates have been waged over that date!? And you’re just casually dropping it here like it’s no big deal!?” Yes, poor St. Augustine got subjected to my running commentary. I can only imagine I caused him to facepalm several times.

Random geeking and commentary aside, I appreciated the, well, universal quality the book had–like I said, it felt relevant even though it was written thousands of years ago. It was a great book, and I’m glad I decided to read it.

It did cause me to consider, though, that a lot of the saints left great works of literature behind them when they died. What am I going to leave? This blog. I doubt it will help my cause for canonization (they’ll probably decide against canonizing me on the grounds that I just called St. Augustine “Dude”). But at the same time, it made me realize just how divinely inspired St. Augustine had to have been in order to write City of God. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was really God who wrote the book; He just had St. Augustine write the words down for Him.

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Welcome, 2017!

A new year is upon us once more! Let’s make the most of it! I, for one, am definitely excited about the Sherlock season premiere tonight, and there’s a host of movies I’m looking forward to this year: Wonder WomanBeauty and the BeastLogan, and Star Wars: Episode VIII to name a few. I’m also looking forward to more X-Files (not sure when the new series will be back, but I’m still working my way through the old show and enjoying all the episodes I’m finding), and I’m going back and watching BBC’s Merlin series (I saw the first season long ago but never saw the others) as well, so that’s basically like watching a new show, too.

It’s a brand new year! Go out there and seize it!

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Farewell, 2016

It was a hard year that saw the deaths of a lot of celebrities (including the most recent passings of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds) as well as one of the most hotly-contested US presidential elections in recent memory. But there were good things that happened this year, too–Star Trek celebrated its 50th anniversary; Doctor Who gave us a Christmas special we’ll not soon forget, and there are always books to read and movies to watch and games to play. Perhaps it’s the hobbit in me, but I always try to find the bright spots in a bleak year because in the end, those are the moments worth remembering. Plus, we get a new season of Sherlock tomorrow, which is always welcome.

I also wanted to take a moment to share the patron saint generator for 2017: http://saintsnamegenerator.com/index.php. I’ve always thought this was cool, and it’s a great opportunity to learn about a new saint. My patron saint for 2017 is St. Leopold III, patron saint of Austria. I’m not entirely sure how well this will work since I’m not Austrian, but he was a good king who did his best to lead a holy life, and I can identify with that (not the king part, the trying to lead a holy life part).

Alas, I had hoped WordPress would have published a recap of my blogging this past year, but for some reason I didn’t get one. I guess the biggest thing that happened in my blogging is that I published my 400th post, which is certainly more posts than I ever thought I would have.

See you all in 2017!

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Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio *Contains Spoilers*

Considering this was the only new episode of Doctor Who we could expect to see this year, writing a review of it was kind of a no-brainer. I did miss having new episodes to review each week, so I looked forward to having a chance to write down my thoughts on the 2016 Christmas special. It’s been exactly one year since our last new episode–was it worth the wait?

“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” sees, well, the return of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor with Matt Lucas reprising his role of Nardole from last year’s Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song” (yes, there is an explanation as to why he is back in one piece after he was beheaded last year). After his twenty-four-year night with River on Darillium, the Doctor reattached Nardole’s head to his body and offered him a place aboard the TARDIS–with both Clara and River gone, he didn’t want to travel alone (although he denies this reason). They turn up in New York City investigating Harmony Shoal, suspecting it’s a front for alien activity. Their investigation leads them to cross paths with Lucy Fletcher, a journalist trying to get background information on Harmony Shoal’s real purpose, and the Ghost, a masked superhero who has made it his mission to protect the city from all threats. Plot twist–the Doctor and the Ghost have met before. Twenty-four years ago, there was a little boy named Grant who had a conversation with a madman on a roof, and during the course of the conversation, he accidentally swallowed a Hazandra gemstone. Known as the “Ghost of Love and Wishes”, this gemstone has the ability to grant any wish–to a young boy with a love of comic books, it gives him super powers. The Doctor made Grant promise never to use his powers, but Grant saw an opportunity to help people, and he took it.

This wasn’t the best of the Christmas specials, but it was very good, nonetheless. There was much poking of fun at common superhero clichés and wry commentary. What I noticed, though, is that Moffat seemed to have toned down his writing this time; it seemed less frantic and manic than previous specials. Frankly, I think the story benefitted from that change of pace–when Moffat slows down and takes the time to work out the plot, his writing is much better. Also, I hope we get to see Grant and Lucy again in the future; they were fun characters. They started as parodies of Superman and Lois Lane but turned into characters I genuinely cared about.

Something else that struck me was a change in Nardole’s character–he seemed wiser, somehow, and seemed to have a good understanding of the Doctor. I’m not sure if that wisdom came from having a drastic perspective shift from being beheaded or if it came from many previous travels, but he definitely understands the Doctor’s pain and wants to help him heal. The Doctor certainly trusts him, or else I don’t imagine he would have taught him how to fly the TARDIS. But Nardole is showing he can be more than an inept bumbler, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in season 10.

And speaking of season 10…

Allons-y!

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Christmas Eve 2016

Yes, it’s Christmas Eve once again, ladies and gentlemen, and I decided to get on here and wish you all a Merry Christmas in case I don’t get a chance to do so tomorrow. I also wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas songs with you, “Gabriel’s Message”. My church choir sings it every Christmas, but I didn’t know what the title was until I searched for some of the lyrics. My search led me to this, and I am so glad I finally found the title.

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December 23: Seventh Day of the O Antiphons

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

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December 22: Sixth Day of the O Antiphons

O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

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