Sunday, August 28, 2011

Confessions: Fun Day I

This is an excellent synopsis of the Confessions in the form of a catchy, little rap. Previous readers of the Confessions might take more pleasure in some of the wittier allusions, but those who haven't read the work before might enjoy this as a tease or preview of the journey before them. 

My favorite line is "They call him Del Monte 'cause he's gotta have the pear." 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Confessions: You'll Need a Copy!

As we prepare to gather on September 12, 2011 to begin reading the Confessions of Augustine, many of you have reported dusting off a copy from your shelf, locating a copy in your church library or happening upon a copy in a used bookstore. Some of you have asked for advice on navigating the many editions and translations of Confessions available. The quick answer is that any version will do, and I'll explain that in more detail below. If, however, you want to purchase a new copy of Confessions. then my recommendation for the best translation currently available is Maria Boulding's work for New City Press, 1997. In my opinion, this version offers the very best marriage of accuracy and beauty in rendering Augustine's work into English. If you want an electronic copy of Confessions, then you might also consider one of the translations listed at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Many of these can be downloaded as a PDF at no charge.

You might wonder how we'll maintain a discussion if we all use different versions of Confessions. That's a fine question! Let's imagine that we want to cite one of the most well-known passages in Confessions. On page 262 of the Boulding translation, a reader will find the opening of Augustine's prayer, "Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!" Those using the Oxford University Press printing of Henry Chadwick's translation would read, "Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you," on page 201. Those using the Penguin edition of R. S. Pine-Coffin's translation will read, "I have learnt to love you late, Beauty at once so ancient and so new! I have learnt to love you late!" on page 231. How might we direct one another to this passage if we aren't on the same page?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Invite Your Community to Join Us!

We are excited about the number of people who have already indicated that they are joining The Heavenly Banquet as we read Augustine's Confessions together. We are sure to have a fine time, but we'll have an even better experience if we gain even more participants. Here are a few ways you can help spread the word about this project:

1. Tweet about us! Tweet links to our posts to your followers. Send invitations to your friends. Tweet about The Heavenly Banquet using your denomination, church or conference hashtag. Also, please try to include the hashtag #hbchat on your Heavenly Banquet tweets. You can also monitor that hashtag to connect with others joining the project.

2. Invite your friends to follow us on Facebook! Like us on Facebook and invite your friends to do the same by sharing the page on your wall and through messages. You won't only be promoting The Heavenly Banquet, but you'll also be prepared to receive the latest updates and to enter the most recent discussions. Also, when you see a new blog post on The Heavenly Banquet, we hope you might consider posting a link to it on your wall as well. 

3. Consider placing a notice in your newsletter or announcements! The flexibility of The Heavenly Banquet offers a unique Christian education opportunity for those whose schedules prevent them from committing to a regular church school class. Why not invite members of your community to join us? Here is some sample copy below that you might alter for your use:
The Heavenly Banquet is an online community which gathers to read and discuss classics of Christian spirituality. Modeled as a book club, The Heavenly Banquet serves as a resource for readers wishing to explore material from the patristic and medieval periods in the company of others without being bound to regular meetings or a fixed schedule. Guests of The Heavenly Banquet will have the flexibility of participating as much or as little as they like when and if they choose.  
The table will be set on September 12, 2011 when we'll open our feast with Augustine's Confessions. Each week blog entries, video responses and articles will be posted to foster conversation, and participants will be invited to contribute their thoughts by commenting on the entries, submitting their own video or audio responses, and engaging the chatter on Twitter. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with classic texts, interact with Christians from diverse backgrounds and experiment with social media. Learn more about The Heavenly Banquet and join the feast by visiting!
This QR code contains the URL
for The Heavenly Banquet.

Think of ways you might use resources from The Heavenly Banquet in your own context. If you find that a group from your congregation intends to participate in the feast, then you might consider hosting opportunities for them to gather to chat about the book. Be inventive! We only hope that you might share your experiments with us!

4. Call, email and chat about The Heavenly Banquet with your friends! This experience is only going to be as good as its participants. Do you know someone who might benefit from this? Someone whose insights you value? Someone whose company you enjoy? Don't be shy! Invite her to join you!

Thanks for spreading the word! Please post any other ideas you have in the comments below and do let us know if you have any questions!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Confessions: Our Schedule

As noted in our first post, we shall begin reading the Confessions of Augustine together on September 12, 2011. Each Monday I'll post a few prompts to get our discussion going on that week's portion of the work. Then we'll endeavor to continue the conversation with your comments, posts, video/audio responses and chats. As we approach the start of the feast, I'll supply details on how you can submit your own posts and responses. Right now I simply want to offer you an outline of our posting schedule:
  • September 12, 2011: Kick Off! This will be an opportunity to exchange introductions and expectations. I'd love to hear what you hope to gain from this experience. Share whatever you like and get to know your tablemates if you will. I'll post some material that might be of interest as you begin the feast. Also, go ahead and read Book I of Confessions so you'll be ready to participate the following week! 
Lingo Alert: Augustine's Confessions is divided into sections referred to as "books." Each book is only about 20 pages long, so you can think of these as chapters. Once we've completed our introductions, we'll read a book a week.
  • September 19, 2011: Book I
  • September 26, 2011: Book II
  • October 3, 2011: Book III
  • October 10, 2011: Book IV
  • October 17, 2011: Book V
  • October 24, 2011: Book VI
  • October 31, 2011: Book VII
  • November 7, 2011: Book VIII
  • November 14, 2011: Book IX
  • November 21, 2011: This week we'll take a break from reading so we can reflect on the end of the narrative portion of the work and prepare for Augustine's upcoming meditations on mind, memory, time and matter. Also, this is the week of Thanksgiving, and some of us have pies to bake. 
  • November 28, 2011: Book X
  • December 5, 2011: Book XI
  • December 12, 2011: Book XII
  • December 19, 2011: Book XIII
As a reminder, the dates above only indicate when I'll begin posting on a particular section of the work. You are not obligated to keep this schedule yourself. If you find yourself "behind" a week or even several weeks, that's absolutely fine! The posts on that material will still be available, and we'll be monitoring those discussions to respond to your questions and comments. While I expect that the flurry of activity on a given portion of Confessions will take place during its assigned week, you are encouraged to participate whenever and however you wish.

I hope this helps you begin to see the shape of this project. I'll continue to post details as we move closer to September 12, 2011. Until then, feel free to ask questions below or to find me on Twitter.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome to the Banquet

After writing and discussing my offering to Two Friars and a Fool, I realized that there was little use in urging anyone to read the church fathers and mothers if opportunities did not exist for them to do so. For some, entering this foreign territory with no companion or guide is intimidating. For others, adding another class or discussion group to an already hectic schedule is an impossibility. It is my hope that The Heavenly Banquet might serve as a resource for readers to explore this material in the company of others without being bound to regular meetings or a fixed schedule. Guests of The Heavenly Banquet will have the flexibility of participating as much or as little as they like when and if they choose.

Here we'll engage our ancestors in the faith by reading and discussing the works they left to us. The table will be set on September 12, 2011 when we'll open our feast with Augustine's ConfessionsWe'll read no more than a chapter each week, and I'll post blog entries and video responses to stir our conversation. You'll be invited to speak up by commenting on the entries, submitting your own video or audio responses, and engaging the chatter on Twitter. Again, you are encouraged to participate at your own comfort level, and please don't feel that you need to commit to our reading schedule. Have no worries if you find yourself on Book 4 during the week that we begin posting about Book 6. The resources and discussion for Book 4 will still be here. Join us whenever you can!

Have you previously read the Confessions? Read it again with us! Our conversation will be enriched by your voice, and you'll likely gain fresh insight in the company of your new friends here. We welcome people of all experience levels to join us so we can all learn from one another.

I hope that you'll accept this invitation to The Heavenly Banquet. I'll share the full schedule and details of our first adventure in our next post. If you have any questions or ideas, please do not hesitate to comment below or to find me on Twitter. Also, follow the hashtag #hbchat for the most current discussion of this project. I look forward to reading, thinking and chatting with you.