08 October 2007

St. Bridget, Widow

St. Bridget, a descendant of the royal house of Sweden, was married to prince Ulfo. After the death of the latter, she founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, commonly called Bridgettines. She died at Rome in 1373.

I'm in the library right now trying to write a paper having to do with Plato's Republic and my poor little brain needs a break. So, I decided that I'll give you an update on all my classes since we are just about one third of the way through the semester.

German: I learned the word "langsam" (slowly), which describes the movement of the class perfectly. So far I've learned how to introduce myself (Ich bin John, Mein Name ist John) and how to count to 100. I desperately need a non-conversational text book that explains grammar rules, has vocab lists and exercises, etc. Any ideas Christina?

Political Philosophy: This is the one that is taxing my brain right now. The course consists of reading in their entirety Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics. We have read so far 7 of 10 books in Plato and the question at hand right now is why on earth does Socrates claim that cities will never have any rest from ills unless philosophers rule as kings?

Natural Philosophy: This course has definitely taken a turn for the better. We began by reading Jean Henri Fabre's writings on his observations of insects (moderately interesting) and then turned to Goethe's botanical writings (bored to tears took on new meaning for me). At last, though, we turned to familiar ground - the presocratic philosophers, then selections from the Phaedo and the Timaeus by Plato, and now Deo gratias Aristotle's Physics, which we will read in its entirety.

Ecclesiology: This course is appropriately subtitled The City of God as the only reading required for the whole semester is St. Augustine's masterpiece by that name. Today we completed the first main part of the book in which he first refutes those who claim that their pagan gods are to be worshipped for the sake of happiness in this life and then also refutes those who hold that the gods are to be worshipped for the sake of happiness in the next life. Having read this we are now about to embark on his discussion of the origins, progress in history, and destined ends of the two cities: the city of man and the city of God.

Synoptic Gospels: This class has turned out to focus mostly on the Pope's new book, Jesus of Nazareth. Early on we also read some of Romano Guardini's The Lord, but even then classroom discussion centered primarily on Ratzinger's book (which is better than I anticipated). I have been particularly delighted by this class because it has been shedding fresh light for me on the doctrine of the Atonement, which I have been trying to understand more fully for quite some time now.

Prophets: So far we've read Amos, Micah, and Isaiah. Jeremiah is next. I'm not sure at all what the rationale is for the order, but I particularly enjoyed reading Isaiah because the figure of the suffering servant in Is. 52-53 is obviously quite important to a proper understanding of Christ's vicarious atonement. In studying Isaiah I took the opportunity to translate some of Aquinas' commentary on Isaiah, which has never been translated into English. Even though we are moving on to Jeremiah I'm going to continue to work on it in my spare time for the sake of keeping up on my Latin and because I can't image St. Thomas' commentary on the suffering servant is uninteresting.


Anonymous said...

John, try this:

and this


and this


Dave S

big daddy said...

"Wisdom" in the Old Testament is much more than deep insight into persons or circumstances. The wise man knows God's commands and does them. The fool is the one who does not do God's law, either because he doesn't know it or because, knowing it, he prefers wickedness. I suspect Socrates has a similar understanding of wisdom, so that the "wisdom-lover" is not so much an ivory-tower intellectual as one who wants to know what is the right way to act, seeks out such knowlege and does it.

big daddy said...

Wouldn't the Germans say "Ich heisse Johann"?

John said...

Thanks for the links, I'll be sure to give those a good reading.

Big daddy,
I think you are correct regarding Socrates' understanding of wisdom. It is certainly not knowledge of particular things. A true philosopher meditates on the true and eternal Good and conforms his life to it (Him) in every way possible.

And yes we did also learn that Ich heisse N. is another option for introducing oneself. Wonderfully enough, the Austrians pronounce the letter "r" not in their throught like the Germans, but by a much more familiar roll of the tongue.

John said...

Um, I meant "throat". How humiliating.

The World of Our Concern said...

I think it's a fairly self-evident truth that the world would be a pretty awesome place if philosophers (particularly /this/ philosopher) ran things.

And I'm glad to see that you are reading more and more by THE Philosopher. The Physics is an enjoyable read, particularly the bit on time, as is the Politics.

big daddy said...


I figured, but didn't want to add injury to insult.

Nana said...

Your classes sound awesome...except for the slow-moving German.
You said that you read some of Guardini's "The Lord". My women's group is currently reading and discussing his book on prayer. He is quite amazing and very deep. We have had 4 or 5 discussions and are still in the first chapter, which is mainly on recollection and God's presence.
Glad to hear every little bit of news, and to see all the wonderful pics.
We are praying for Father Gerald.
1-2-3 Mom

BONIFACE said...


I am horrified that you were taught to introduce yourself by saying "Ich bin John." This is like saying, "Me, John." "Mein Name ist John" is a little better, but the way Germans actually introduce themselves is in this way, "Ich heisse [high-seh] John", which means, "I am called John."