Augustine of Hippo was an inspiration to the Prophet of the Lovely Star who titled his memoir “The Confessions” in homage to the Catholic Saint’s book of the same name. He left one of the few first-hand, insider accounts of the Manichean faith. It’s also been proposed that he introduced the Manichean view of the world being embroiled in a cosmic battle between forces of Good vs. Evil into the nascent Christian movement – which was just hitting its stride when Emperor Constantine ended the religion’s outlaw status and made it his empire’s state religion a few decades preceding. THANKS AUGGIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He developed an especially problematic view of sexual pleasure. The New Yorker recently ran an extended think piece that I’d bet Aleister would get a many chuckle over. Here’s an excerpt:
“Priding himself on his intelligence and his literary sensitivity, he studied law; he honed his rhetorical skills; he entered dramatic competitions; he consulted astrologers; he mastered the complex, sinuous system of thought associated with the Persian cult known as Manichaeanism. Augustine carried his Manichaeanism, along with his mistress and his son, from Carthage to Thagaste, where he taught literature, and then back to Carthage, where he gave courses on public speaking, and then to Milan, where he took up an illustrious professorship of rhetoric.
“In Augustine’s decade-long ascent, there was one major problem, and her name was Monica. When he arrived at Thagaste for his first teaching position, Augustine’s mother was loath to share a house with him, not because of his mistress and child but, rather, because of his Manichaean beliefs. Those beliefs—the conviction that there were two forces, one good and the other evil, at war in the universe—were repugnant to her, and she made a conspicuous show of weeping bitterly, as if her son had died.”
And another that’s very suggestive indeed:
“In the Roman port of Ostia, a few days before setting sail for Africa, Augustine and his mother were standing by a window that looked out onto an enclosed garden, and talking intimately. Their conversation, serene and joyful, led them to the conclusion that no bodily pleasure, no matter how great, could ever match the happiness of the saints. And then, ‘stretching upward with a more fiery emotion,” Augustine and Monica experienced something remarkable: they felt themselves climbing higher and higher, through all the degrees of matter and through the heavenly spheres and, higher still, to the region of their own souls and up toward the eternity that lies beyond time itself. And “while we were speaking and panting for it, with a thrust that required all the heart’s strength, we brushed against it slightly.’
“It is difficult to convey in translation the power of the account, and of what it meant for the thirty-two-year-old son and the fifty-five-year-old mother to reach this climax together. Then it was over: suspiravimus. ‘We sighed,’ Augustine writes, and returned to the sound of their speech.”
Thanks to Barry William Hale for the tip!