Pecknold on Biden on Augustine

I studiously avoided any coverage of the “inauguration” last week.  I have, after that, done my best to avert my eyes from news.   I did see that D.C. was turned into an armed bastion through the deployment of subsequently abused National Guardsmen.   Sounds American to me.  Right up there with, “Ausweis, bitte!”

Today I read a good piece at First Things by Chad Pecknold about Biden’s use of St. Augustine in his address.  Pecknold exposes how “Biden’s call to unity is empty rhetoric.”

Pecknold explains how Biden misused (missed the point of) a line from City of God about what unifies a commonwealth or people: the common objects of their love.  I direct the readership to go read the clear and concise piece over there.  It’s really good.

Let’s just say that Augustine and Biden have rather different views.

For a good commentary on the monumental City of God, you might try Gerard O’Daly.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thanks for the book and article suggestions. It is much appreciated. Like you, I intentionally and studiously avoided the theatrics last week and ever since. You know what I appreciated? The peace of mind from not following the details closely and the extra time to read, pray, watch quality movies, and spend time with family.

  2. cscairns says:

    I doubt very much Biden understood his own reference, or even wrote what he read. I feel badly for him. Not in a condescending, pitying way, but because he seems to be failing mentally and is being manipulated by the left as much as he’s being derided by the right. Which is not to say I’d respect his opinion if I trusted his faculties, only that I can’t really make any judgments about him based on what he says or does.

    I’m old enough to remember Vietnam (though too young to fight in it). My high school history teach and WWII D-Day vet used to repeat 2 lines my generation cherished – “my rights end where your nose begins,” and “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it.”

    That country is slowly dying, along with the generation that defended it.

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    Thank you for recommending that commentary on The City of God. Didn’t even realize I need a commentary on that book . Well, I have a defect that I find $35 books constantly that I did not know I needed and suddenly I need it because the book might answer one question I have. I definitely do not have room for them either.

  4. Discipula says:

    I have not watched the news since Bill Clinton’s days at least, and progressively watched less and less television over the years. It’s disquieting at best and detrimental to my mental health at worst. When looking for news to read there are a few names I avoid studiously, Biden is one of them. I read somewhere that there was only one presidential candidate on the ballot, the vote for Trump and the vote for anyone but Trump. This is not the first time we had that type of election, but I think this is the first time we had a media frenzy that fed into it. Four years of TDS takes a toll.

    If there is one outcome to this debacle I would like to see it would be the toppling of a certain segment of the press and the mindset that had enabled them to control so much of the flow of information.

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The City of God is a really challenging, sad, happy, educational, dark, light, and fun book. It’s more like a series of podcasts than a single book, and yet it all fits together. I like it a lot better than the Confessions, actually.

    Some brave soul actually read the whole thing on Librivox. He reads really fast, but he does a good narration. Audible has a version read by David McCallion. Even in their 1.5x speed version, it’s 46 hours. (Although I don’t think this 1.5x version is as fast as their audiobooks normally are, so maybe the narrator was reading more slowly than normal when it was originally recorded.) So if you’re not boycotting Audible, that’s an option.

    There’s a Great Courses class on the book. It had some good interesting things in it, but I spent a lot of time yelling at the professor for obviously not understanding what was going on. (He took a very dark view of St. Augustine and Catholicism, IIRC.) So yeah, maybe don’t spend money on it, but maybe get it out from the library. Some of the historical orientation was very good.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Btw, if you really want something long, Audible has Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, read by Martyn Swain, so far in three audiobooks (really long ones).

    I have an easier time following philosophical reasoning in audiobooks myself, mostly because I can listen, stop, think, rewind, make snarky comments, think…. Whereas I tend to have my eyes glaze over, when I just read things on paper. Possibly it helps to be able to perform manual tasks while listening to philosophical arguments.

  7. Unwilling says:

    The H[istorian] tells us how Biden intentionally wounded himself and his [offices] in order to demand from the A[merican] people bodyguards for protection, which he received. By obtaining support from the vast number of the poorer population as well as bodyguards, he was able to seize the [Capitol] and the reins of government. Wikipedia “Peisistratos” {hey…just kidding}

    [Well, that was an interesting interlude. Analogies of the ancient world are a little hard to shoe horn into today’s situation. Frankly, Peisistratos did a lot of things that look like Trump’s efforts regarding the economy of his time and draining the Athenian swamp. Other things, not so much. However, I am strongly reminded these days of the struggles between the different parties at the end of the Roman Republic, populares, optimates.]

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    “I did see that D.C. was turned into an armed bastion through the deployment of subsequently abused National Guardsmen.”

    The day before the Installation it was photo ops with the troops and requests for machine guns to defend Glorious Unity against the unwashed citizenry. The day after the Installation the Death Party banished them to a parking garage and failed, in the nation’s capital, to supply adequate meals. The number of troops in DC with the Wuhan Virus is in the triple digits. There is serious talk of making the Capitol permanently fortified (something like a Kremlin on the Potomac).

    “Sounds American to me. Right up there with, “Ausweis, bitte!””

    Perhaps later this year…

    Biden, after a long day of furiously signing Executive Orders, descends to his Bunker to stare at maps of the U.S. and mumble “Lebensraum… Lebensraum.” At night Harris roams the expanding tunnels beneath the Capitol in a soiled bathrobe and slippers, challenging construction crews to poetry contests and demanding their “fishes.” Meanwhile, far to the west in the California mountains, Pelosi is watching the sunset from her “Eagle’s Nest” lair, cackling as she inspects her new pistol collection while her leather-clad aides chant, “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer.”

    Ah, “Unity.”

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