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by Saint Augustine

Confessions Theme of Weakness

…by which we mean moral weakness, as in, susceptibility to temptation. Augustine gets really self-deprecating in his Confessions when it comes to his own inability to "just say no." But as we know, saying no to bad things sounds a lot easier than it really is. But Augustine is not oblivious to how much grief his weakness causes him, especially when it comes to his attachment to other people. Now, 1500 years later a certain Alfred Lord Tennyson might say that "'tis better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all," but Augustine thinks the fact that he keeps loving things (read: people), which are subject to time, change, and death, pretty much guarantees his misery.

Questions About Weakness

  1. Does Augustine ever call himself weak? How does he describe his condition of moral weakness? 
  2. How does Augustine distinguish between a morally weak person and the kind of humble, meek person whom God likes?
  3. Does Augustine always associate weakness with sorrow?
  4. Does Augustine think that he is a particularly weak person, or that his weakness is representative of all human weakness?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

For Augustine, weakness means the capacity to change.

In the Confessions, weakness is something Augustine feels that he cannot escape.

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