PODCAzT 184: St. Augustine preaches to the mob who lynched a cop who killed a guy

Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence.   In 400, or thereabouts, in St. Augustine’s see of Hippo, a miles, a soldiers, probably a kind of police officer, did something very bad.  He probably killed someone.  The town went nuts and rioted and they lynched him.  The mob is still howling for more vengeance.   It is, apparently, ongoing.

St. Augustine preaches in this occasion and let’s them have it.  He also gives good advice.

One of the things that Augustine reaffirms is that mobs do not have authority and that every is going to render an account of their part in the riots.   He gives concrete advise about how to shut down the violence, keep it from erupting again.

This was preached on the Feast of St. Lawrence, but there seems to be a textual problem.  If feels like two sermons stitched together, perhaps both from a St. Lawrence feast day.  However, I am only giving you the second part, which pertains to the rioting.

This is fit for our times.   It goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

What can change is OUT reaction to events because we know history.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Sundown says:

    St Augustine, what should one do when the mob is set on destroying his property and there are no police willing to stop the mob. Should we walk away from our property and just pray for these bad angry people

  2. JustaSinner says:

    I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats,” said Ariel Atkins, a BLM organizer…who knew those stores had such nutritious and delicious food stuffs!!!

  3. xavier says:

    Absolutely not. You defnd your property as the state has renounced its most fundamental duty. That doesn’t stop you at from paying for them. But make sure your weapons are cleaned an loaded.
    Sometimes bullets in the body are a form of prayer for the conversion of souls.
    Look at St Ignatius.


  4. Antonin says:

    I listened to the entire sermon. It seems to me that what Augustine is advocating is restoratively oriented justice. I am a big believer in that. In a nutshell restorative justice is about restoring relationships that occur as a result of the offence. Criminal justice reform is an important issue and there are many mobs …yes the Antifa folks in the left but the “tough in crime” (And that includes Democrats!) mobs on the right agitated for Increased sentencing and incarceration rates Skyrockets and with it the size of the prison population. I realize that the post is in the context of riots and these are a problem for sure but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to address more fully criminal justice reform and that includes policing

    [Yeah. Let’s invite the rioters for an ice-cream cone.]

  5. Antonin says:

    Riots are crowds and protests that gets out of control. And there is a long history of agent provocateurs that are driven by other ideologies besides the group protesting.

    But, that issue aside, when it comes to policing, when it comes to the public order, tranquillitas ordinis, speaking of Augustine, civil authorities could be much smarter. Meeting force with more deadly force is actually psychologically counter-productive, From. a study on the weapons effect


    A review of 56 published studies reported that the mere sight of weapons increases aggression in both angry and nonangry individuals.[10] A more recent meta-analysis of a larger sample of 151 effect-size estimates from 78 independent studies involving 7,668 participants found strong support for the idea that weapons increase the accessibility of aggressive thoughts and hostile appraisals.[11] However, more research is needed on the link between exposure to weapons and aggression in provoked participants, especially in field settings. A large (N = 678) recent field study found that the presence of a TASER significantly increased physical assaults against police officers.[12] Perhaps the weapons effect occurs because weapons are closely linked to aggression in our brains.

  6. Kerry says:

    Antonin, we notice you say “…weapons are closely linked to agression in our brains”. We do not suffer from such an agression, as we are cognizant of the four rules of firearm usage.
    And we note that a former Antifa fellow who raised his AK towards an Army Sgt. sitting in his car in Austin, TX, likely did not understand Rule the 2nd, having quickly received returned fire to his detriment. For, as said quite well by Col. Cooper, “The purpose of the pistol is to stop a fight that somebody else has started, almost always at very short range.”

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Kerry: Well said.

    Antonin: There are also pre-planned riots, attacks, and terror attacks. Also, looting and vandalism. Let’s add barbarism to the lexicon.

    “The Chicago looting spree that turned downtown into chaos early Monday included vandalism at a Ronald McDonald House housing the families of ailing children.”


  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Antonin: “…when it comes to the public order, tranquillitas ordinis, speaking of Augustine, civil authorities could be much smarter.”

    Some are not interested in “smarter,” but in a different agenda altogether, such as when the Seattle Mayor describes CHAZ as a “block party atmosphere” or V.P. Candidate Harris refers to a “coalition of conscience” in the streets.

    The Psychology Today article trumpets “The Weapons Effect” based on an academic experiment involving one person angering a second, who then decides on the level of electric shock to be delivered to the first- while that second person views a table of weapons left over from a previous experiment that the researcher had “forgotten to put away.” This is absurd, and probably those “published” and “independent” studies, are agenda-driven.

    No doubt St. Possenti would have a good chuckle at that experiment and those studies, weapons can be used for deterrence and de-escalation.

    “A review of 56 published studies reported that the mere sight of weapons increases aggression in both angry and nonangry individuals.”

    Hogwash. A day at the range with your buddies, a Beowulf .50, flaming arrows and a catapult is just good, clean fun.

    [As in ….]




  9. Semper Gumby says:

    Bullseye, Fr. Z.

    Classic posts and comments. Fr. Ferguson’s comment in your second link:

    … and that’s how we bring the “Lumen” to the “gentium.”

  10. Marissa says:

    “A review of 56 published studies reported that the mere sight of weapons increases aggression in both angry and nonangry individuals.”

    One has to wonder where are all the murders and assaults are that should be happening at gun shops and ranges!

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    Pistol self-defense classes do not turn women into Berserkers. The Emergency Rooms in Washington DC are not overflowing after an air show at Andrews or a performance of the Silent Drill Platoon at the Marine Barracks. When the Atlantic Fleet is in town, the roads around Norfolk are not a scrapyard of twisted, smoldering road-rage metal.

    “Psychology Today” contains the letters s-o-y. Coincidence? I think not.

    God and Family, Faith and Reason, Guns and Ammo, Fr. Capodanno and the Battle Flag of Lepanto.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    When Grandpa places his musket on the mantle over the fireplace, Grandma does not grab the frying pan and scream at the grandchildren, “come at me, bro!” like Leonidas at Thermopylae.

    When the uniformed little boys and girls of St. Mary’s of Perpetual Devotion file into the chapel and see a painting of St. Michael the Archangel with a sword, the young ‘uns do not immediately form a phalanx and assault the nearest ice cream truck.

    “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”- A Navy chaplain at Pearl Harbor, Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941

  13. Antonin says:

    Let me make a few points in response:

    1. I think we don’t need psychological studies to understand just on a human level the power of symbols in shaping people’s moods and attitudes. This is why there are so many icons, candles, incense, hushed tones, stained glass, towering cathedrals, chairs, vestments, etc in our churches. All of these set a tone and mood in the mind of the participants.

    Logically, the converse is true, the presence of weapons IS going to create a response in the people who view them. The studies simply confirmed this fact.

    2. Yes, agression did increase significantly in people with weapons in their vehicle as the study linked in the story showed. That does not mean it rose from like 18 % to 100%, it simply means that it rose significantly even when controlling for other factors among some people. This means that there, of course, agression will, in some people increase, with a weapon.

    3. The problem is that we are saturated in our society with images of violence – ironically it isn’t the case that images of violence cause more violence (in fact the rate of violent crime has been dropping!!!). It is instead the case, that exposure or “cultivation” within the media environment prodcues in people what George Gerbner calls a “mean world syndrome”. We believe the world is, in fact, more mean and violent than it is in reality.


    This manifests itself all manner of responses (police becoming more militarized in light of non-existent threats), people feeling that they need to arm themselves (why???). [Oh boy. You don’t know what goes on out there, do you.]

    Finally, I am hardly anti-gun. I grew up in a rural area. We had rifles and shotguns in my house – my family always hunted in the fall. And I grew up at a time without laws around safe storage of rifles and shotguns – they were usually in the closet with the shells on the top shelf. But they were interpreted largely, culutrally at that time, as implements and tools, not devices for self defence. In fact in my house growing up the doors were NEVER locked even at night.

    [Let’s wrap this up.]

  14. Semper Gumby says:

    To be brief, the “Mean World Syndrome,” an academic study dating from the 1960s (like the so-called “Weapons Effect”) has something to say about violence on TV. These days, though, we see certain local governments, quite a few media outlets, and some national politicians and entertainers urging their followers into the actual streets to ally with actual violent groups.

    Unlocked doors are nice. The Catechism on the right and duty of self-defense and the 2nd Amendment are practical.

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