I am currently reading two books: St. Augustine's "Confessions" and Alain de Botton's "The Romantic Movement." Both of these books take a certain amount of effort to read - Augustine demands patience and some thought, which is how I want my religious books to be. His lack of inhibition about sharing his debaucherous youth is actually pretty darn inspiring, and much more easy to grasp than the radiant lives of many other saints, the ones who never stray too far from their stained-glass perfection. Alain de Botton is more of a pretentious young jerk, writing about a romance between two people who shouldn't be together and who are too broken and insecure to be with anyone, really. He peppers the novel with pithy subheadings, charts, and digressions into some philosopher or another (although most of the works he opts to cite in footnotes were written in the two or three years just before his book was published - real impressive, Alain).
But there are common threads emerging in these two books: something about looking for the right things, or how having the wrong idea of love and devotion can lead you very far astray. How it all starts internally, and once you are grounded in yourself then you can begin relating to other people. I was really surprised to see some similarities in these books. But if the character's in the other book would read some Augustine, they would be much better off.
I know this is not an earth-shattering observation, and I realize that so far this compare/contrast is on its way to a solid B-, but it was on my mind. St. Augustine is blowing me away with some of his ideas. He wrote about God melting sin like ice, which reminded me of my dream the other day of water streaming out of my hands. And he wrote that "I had an instinct to keep myself safe and sound, to preserve my own being, which was a trace of the single unseen Being from which it was derived" (40). To me one of the clearest ways I think that our friendly neighborhood unseen Being makes itself known is through the desire of every creature on earth to keep living. Everyone has an innate desire to simply continue existing - and I don't think that could emerge from the ether via a few darwinian contortions.
Not that I'm endorsing intelligent design or anything. But I'm just saying. You think about it sometimes. Seacrest out.