Conversion Notes 1

Before his conversion, Augustine was a teacher of rhetoric, which he later soundly condemned, just as did Epictetus.  In both cases, it is exposed as a tool that was imagined as amoral, but is in fact immoral because practiced ungoverned by any higher moral principles.  The same could be said of Statistics!  In both cases, there are purely internal standards of right and wrong.  Statistics is a prostitute science.  Epictetus condemns rhetoric for similar reasons.

Augustine, Confessions 4: XII:  “Where are you going?  To what bleak places?  Where are you going?  The good that you love is from Him; and insofar as it is likewise for Him, it is good and lovely; but it will rightly be turned into bitterness, if it is unrightly loved and He deserted by whom it is.”

This is an answer to my question to the theology professor at Concordia (in 1967) who told me to admire the sunrise as proof of God.  I had asked him why I can’t just admire the beauty of the sunrise in itself?  He had no answer, as I recall.  It has taken a lifetime of experience to acknowledge my yearning for the great Truth beyond fragmentary phenomena.  Epictetus points to a similar truth when he warns of the disappointment of clinging to particular externals — he constantly exhorts us to order our priorities in service to God, while embracing the fundamental Divine Wisdom manifest throughout the Whole, sometimes in individual manifestations we may want to reject.  The vast godless modern ethos is built upon this rejection — to our individual and collective peril.