Saturday, January 6, 2024

Reading Augustine's Confessions

During today's workout I began noticing a trend. If I look tired, I am. 

While I am performing my exercises I am working harder than I have in the past. We've all heard the Henry Ford quote: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." Before starting any workout it's vital to get this right. Basically, you have to believe you're strong enough to do this. The only thing you have to be wary of is overdoing it. I'm not sure why, but I have very little fatigue or muscle soreness after a workout, even though I think I am giving it 100 percent. If you're new to training, let me just say that you definitely don't need to be sore to have a successful fitness program. Conversely, you can work out intensely and feel sore while making no progress. When I do feel some soreness is the day after a workout. Soreness is indicative of stress to the muscle tissue, so soreness is a nice indicator that you are stressing the muscle you want to grow or strengthen. I've noticed that I get DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) primarily when I perform an exercise my body isn't used to yet. Maybe I've activated muscles that were dormant before. Maybe I improved my technique. The more you exercise a muscle, the more that muscle will become accustomed to the stimulation. So don't be too worried about soreness and just keep working! 

My devotions this morning were in Augustine's Confessions. Book 6 to be exact. How rich are the church fathers in theology and piety! Did you know that Augustine of Hippo is quoted by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae 3,156 times! Remember, the fathers were mostly pastors, not academics. If you can, try to read them on your own. It won't be easy, but I can promise you it will be rewarding like you can't believe. These writers are no less worthy of our attention than Count Zinzendorf or Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Please, please, please, don't get too attracted to your online translator. The same can be said for over-relying on this book I used this morning. 

Often the English leaves much to be desired. An accurate translation is one that conveys the same meaning as the original, though finding exact equivalents across different languages can be demanding. Consider these examples from Book 6, section 19 of the Confessions.

1. The English translator has Augustine swearing not once but twice:

  • "To hell with all of it!!"
  • "But God forbid!"

But here's the Latin:

  • Pereant omnia. "Let all things perish!"
  • Sed absit. "But may it be far away!"

2. The translator loves to render plural verbs as singulars. "I must reject these futile follies" is not the same as "dimittamus haec vana et inania"! 

3. Whenever possible, translators should (in my opinion) use English cognates or derivatives so that readers can more easily the connection between the Latin and the English. "Vita misera est, mors incerta est" is simply "Life is miserable, death is uncertain." Yet the translator prefers "Life is pitiable. Death is unaccountable." "Pitiable" works. But "unaccountable"? I think these are all very good reasons for learning how to read Latin on your own, don't you?

Oh, the weather here is rainy. The rivers and creeks are about to overflow their banks. Well, farmers need rain, right? I think the Lord is telling me to light a fire and get down to some serious loafing.