Regulating Exchange

The harsh effects of government regulation within an economy can be analyzed by using a yard sale as a model. By the end of this essay, you might be able to see the difference between a free, as in, non-regulated exchange and a regulated, as in, government regulated exchange. All poor and middle class people would suffer the consequences.

Usually, garage sales only occur once and sporadically. The mere thought of regulating and, with that, guarding these transactions is crazy. It would mean that the owner of the garage sale would have to announce to the government that he or she is going to carry on this business. This, of course, to provide the government with the facility of knowing where and when to regulate such a spontaneous enterprise. In other words, the government would coerce the businessman to federally announce that they are creating a sale’s post, so that the government could avoid the pain of the search costs in regulating a one-time garage sale. Obviously, those that would not report to the government would suffer sanctions, maybe a fine or jail.

Next, is taxing. The excuse would be that they need money to sustain a newly created bureaucracy that regulates garage sales. Both sellers and buyers would be harmed. Garage sale goods and services would now have to, if not have fixed prices, then begin a bidding at the lowest price of the good plus tax. Also, if the government was stupid enough to regulate garage sales, then the taxation done in them would have to be an all time high, because they only happen once and you need money to sustain your new bureaucrats. Unless, of course, an existing bureaucracy took care of the exchanges of garage sales, then there would be no need of high taxes in the goods of a yard sale.

Then, we would have to see who the government is going to favor in the laws, with this, already knowing the fact that the one who creates the laws (federal government) will be the ultimate beneficiary. If the buyers are the favored ones, we would have price controls and garage sale buyers who are cheapskates will push the government to make sellers lower the price to its maximum. On the other hand, if the sellers are the favored ones, they will push the government to put prices at their maximum price.

Either way, the economy will be disordered because buyers and sellers will start competing against each other to see who is the government’s favorite pet. Another case, could be a garage seller wanting to become the monopoly of garage sales and lobbying to get the government to give him what he wants and destroy the competition. A couple of years later, there would be so much conflict and chaos that finally the state would be the only one allowed to sell used goods.

The obvious conclusion is that within the first month of the new government regulation, there would already be a black market of garage sales or no one would ever use a garage sale to earn money. This random and handy business would utterly disappear. In the end, poor people would not be able to get rid of old stuff to gain money to buy new stuff, making “big companies” lose customers. This is why garage sales are purely free market exchanges, meaning that they are without government regulation.

Flying on Coach or on First

When we choose to travel, we normally prefer to fly. Flying is faster and cheaper in many senses, especially in saving the resource of time. Although some people might see flying as a very sacrificial labor, because they are afraid of heights. Whatever the case, the majority of people rather flying than walking, running, riding a bike, going on bus, going on car, or going on a motorhome to move throughout long distances. However, when we have already set flying as our preference of travel, we still have some difficulties in conforming to our selections within this breakthrough of our corporal capacity of mobility.

Society is marked by economy, that virtually within every thing you want to acquire, the difference of rich class, middle class, and poor class is clearly evident. When you choose to fly, there is the difference of coach class and first class. The prices reflect the bidders or buyers each class is dedicated to. Yet, many of the technological advances in software have made pricing very competitive between the sellers and the reduction of government regulation has made prices more free to move up or down. This obviously gives buyers the opportunity to establish prices through bidding. People nowadays do not care about quality or image when it comes to flying. Instead, it is all about the allocation of resources or commodities; money, time, opportunity, and self interest, in other words.

If I were to travel with my family, obviously the longed option would be flying in first class, synonym of more space, comfort, entertainment, excellent service, and good food. However, we would have to take into account our economic possibilities of taking this decision, that is to say, what would we exchange or rather sacrifice in order to fly in first class. If you’re rich you obviously don’t care what the costs are, but of course, if you get a bargain (seeing it with rich eyes) you would prefer that. However, the average person (at the moment, my family and I) does care about price.

So, we would have to analyze our destination and the activities we have planned and those that we have not. For example, we are going to a nice coastal city, we have to check the quantity of distance between our hometown and the destination, this includes the resource of time (the longer the distance, the longer the time). Also, if there is lots of gastronomic diversity and we want to taste as much of the meals we can, if there is nice malls to shop, and a variety of three to five star hotels. We maybe have planned to visit certain tourist areas in three days, but maybe we desire to stay a fourth day if we did not get enough time to see the other areas. All of this takes energy, money (without a doubt), and again time.

These factors influence the primary decision you take when traveling on plane, and that is the amount of money you want to invest in your flight. Maybe you like to drink lots of water, maybe you want to have three meals in a long flight, maybe you want wi-fi, maybe you want first class but prefer to travel in coach due to the relatively short distance of the flight or maybe you just want to save the money to buy something extra in your vacation or business trip. Whatever the case my family and I would take our decisions based on these exchanges. If my parents need the space and comfort, they could travel in first class and my sister and I could go on coach. Another option would be the four of us on coach or the four of us on first class. In any decision taken I would always prefer first class, and it would be nice to find a good promotion now and then, but flying on coach is still flying.

Changes in Europe During the IX and X Centuries

Ninth- and Tenth-Century Invasions

Europe is virtually the cradle of Western Civilization. The “old continent” has been subject of lots of drastic changes due to some of the terrible and good circumstances it had to undergo. The 9th and 10th Century invasions were part of the terrible ones and they yielded significant political and social changes for the West.

There were three major groups that took care of the invasions. the Norsemen (Vikings), Magyars (some people from Asia), and the well known Muslims. These three groups combined utterly savaged Western and Eastern Europe. The West was more damaged by the Vinkings and the Magyars, leaving the Carolingians with a handful of worries. For example, the city of Tours in France was pillaged in 853, 856, 862, 872, 886, 903, and 919. Also, in over 40 years, the city of Paris was beseiged fout times, pillaged three times, and burned twice. This obviuosly left the western part of what used to be Charlemagnes Empire totally devastated.

The kings of Europe were incapable of protecting their countries. Even with the somewhat good idea of king Charles the Simple in the early 900s of dealing with the Norsemen by “lending” them a great chunk of land (known as Normandy) to settle, the raids prevailed. Even with the reestablishment of the Holy Roman Empire, the insecurity continued. Something had to be done, and as always, a central power proved to be a non-viable solution.

Origins of Feudalism and Manorialism

During the year of 955, in what is now present day Germany, the first Ottonian king, Otto I, defeated the Magyars. In this victory, his troops proclaimed him emperor, but it was not until 962, after defending the Pope from harassment, that king Otto was crowned emperor by pope John XII and the Holy Roman Empire was reestablished for the first time after Charlemagne’s death in the early 9th Century.

However, the Franks were under much pressure by the invasions that when the last of the Carolingian dynasty die by the endings of the tenth century, they chose a successor that had practically no power over the country. King Hugh Capet would be the elect and it seems that his power extended only to the surrounding areas of Paris. Apparently the Franks had lost all hope in the king’s protection as they had proved themselves unable of adequately providing it. Therefore, the people began to look for security in the territories of local strongmen.

People became bound to the lands of these lords and worked in them in exchange for protection. The worker of a lord’s land are known as a serf and the system is called manorialism. Meanwhile, some lords would realize that they had just too much land to protect for themselves, thus they hired warriors to become vassals or knights by giving them portions of their land, or fiefs to keep. The fief is the vassal’s source of income to attain weapons, horses, and leisure time in order to become a skilled warrior with training. Within their fief, vassals exercised absolute authority over the people, like judicial, legal, and etcetera. This system of relationship between lords and vassals is known as feudalism. Sometimes, a vassal would have a huge amount of land to protect for himself that he would hire another vassal and continue the process known as subinfeudation.

With this we learn two things. First, that central authorities, when challenged, are unable to cope with the difficulties and are therefore not viable to seek satisfying solutions. Second, when you give one person or a handful of people the responsibility of an entire country, you will inevitably have chaos, the best is to have small governments with not much power over the people to have a better ordered society.

Islam Selections / Procopius on Justinian

1) What do you learn about Islam from the Koran selections you read? Koran Selection

The Islamic religion praises and follows only one god and that is Allah. Allah is not a trinity, he is self-sufficient. Those who do not believe in this god are unrighteous and live in the ways of folly. Allah will punish them through his followers and whosoever battles against them. The enemies or disbelievers of Allah may be slaughtered and imprisoned by those who believe in this god. Every muslim must follow what has been revealed to one man and that is Muhammad. If one helps to the cause of Allah, he will prosper their works and make those of their enemies vain. Allah destroys unbelievers eternally.” This is what I basically learn about the Koran selection of chapters (Surahs) 1 and 47 of the Koran. Should we follow this religion just because one man, Muhammad, randomly said it was the truth and went on battling against all those who disagreed with him? You judge.

2) What kind of person emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian? Procopius on Justinian

The person that emerges from Procopius potrayal of Justinian is one that deserves nothing more and nothing else than the capital punishment. Justinian was not a politician, governor, emperor, soldier, or even mercenary, he was a criminal that knew how to obtain power and make everyone do as he said. It did not matter if it was through plunder, deceit, homicide, slaughter, threat he knew how to do as he desired, but was also foolish enough to believe anything they told him. That at least to what Procopius says of Justinian.

Spreading Christianity in England

The Spread of Christianity in England was one that had a few setbacks. Britain was part of the Roman Empire and Roman natives there were protected by Roman troops, until the 400s when they were forced to return to the continent when the conflicts with the Barbarians were intensifying. When the Roman army left the British, they were left unprotected and with the bother of coping with their territorial enemies.

Lacking war skills, the Romano-British hired the Saxons as mercenaries, who in turn, took land for themselves by dispossessing the Romano-British from theirs. The Romans were left with a small territory to live in known as Wales. Here, they were quite angry at the Anglo-Saxons for having taken their lands, that they did not feel the urge to convert them to Christianity. Evangelization would have to come from somewhere outside Britain.

Around the year of 600, missionaries from Rome and Ireland arrived to the Anglo-land to convert the people. Pope Gregory the Great (r.590-604) in Rome had lots of problems to struggle with. There was no temporal authority to handle Rome’s problems, there were famines, plagues, and the Lombards were invading the land. Therefore, Pope Gregory was almost obliged to make peace with the Lombards, which he did, and established hospitals and relief services while he was at it. In the settling of things, Pope Gregory realized that maybe the East would not be reliable any longer, so in the convenience of security, the papacy turned to the West and pushed for a more systematic evangelization.

Pope Gregory the Great sent missionaries aided by St. Augustine of Canterbury to England. The Pope instructed them in saying that the missionaries had to try hard to adapt the Anglo practices to Christianity and be patient in their conversion for they wouldn’t do it instantly. He told them to not destroy their temples and maintain the outward ceremony of their rituals to use them to worship the true God and interpret things in a Christian sense. There were substantial conversions, including the one of their king’s (King Ethelbert).

Sooner or later the question came in knowing if the Celts (Romano-British) and the Anglo-Saxons could be reconciled or at least -if possible- lead the Celts to combine forces with the missionaries to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons, but they said something like this, “We will never, never preach the faith to this cruel race of foreigners who have so treacherously robbed us of our native soil!”

Meanwhile, there were two manners of practicing Christianity competing for dominance in England. The Irish monks, with their extreme religious rudiments and tough forms of asceticism were in the north and the Benedictine monks were in the south. These differences caused confusion among the Anglo-Saxons in knowing which was the correct form of practice. Controversy was resolved in the Synod of Whitby (664), a meeting where it was asked which form of dating Easter was correct, the Irish or the Benedictine. The Benedictines said that they were using the one the successor of apostle Peter was using, so the king preferred to follow the practices of the successor. This Irish-Benedictine interaction yielded the Northumbrian Renaissance.

The Northumbrian Renaissance brought biblical illuminations, epic poetry, and other things that emerged from the monasteries. The key monastery was the one of Jarrow, which was home to the Venerable Bede of Germanic ancestry. Bede wrote the ecclesiastical history of England. By Bede’s death in 735, the Northumbrian Renaissance will begin to fade, but Northumbrian learning will continue to be spread in Europe by St. Boniface. The Frankish kingdom will be the cultural center of Europe by the eighth century and Charlemagne’s advisor, Alcuin (student of the Venerable Bede), will be a major factor in accomplishing this.

The Carolingian Renaissance

The Frankish Emperor Charlemagne, member of the Carolingian family, was a man that thought of himself as a mere Barbarian and thus praised the ancient Roman Empire. He desired to bring back to life a civilization that would have made ancient Rome proud. However, this civilization could be better due to its emphasis on Christianity. Charlemagne’s longings gave birth to the Carolingian Renaissance which lasted from 768 to about the year of 840. This rebirth was different from others in the fact that there wasn’t much original work, but instead preservation of the antique works performed in earlier centuries, specifically those having to do with religious material (e.g. the writings of the “latin fathers”, the learning of latin to read the Bible, more accurate translations of the religious literature, etc.).

Of course, there was an establishment of bringing back the old form of doing government in ancient Rome. The Frankish government would now be responsible of encouraging the formation of roads, schools, the administration of justice, etc. For the first time, Franks would now have a fixed capital in the city of Aachen, this would enable a more accurate rule. Aachen would be the live model that represented Charlemagne’s idea of rebirth, due to the mere fact that its court chapel was built similarly to the one you would have seen in a prominent Roman city. He was consciously building before the model of Rome and everywhere he would go, Charlemagne would seek great artists and support them.

Education was fomented greatly during the Carolingian Renaissance to the ruling elite, to the churchmen, and then to a broader public. Within the schools, theology, poetry, and science would be studied. Many cathedral schools were born; every monastery and cathedral needed to have a school to teach the clergy and the laity how to read and write. In this scholar development, the emperor realized that he had a shortage of scholars to teach and study. Therefore, he brought some from Ireland, Britain, and Italy.

In the midst of these scholars one became a very important advisor for Charlemagne, this was Alcuin of York. Alcuin was involved in the court school around the palace where many aristocrats and advisors assisted. However, Alcuin asked for a less demanding job and became the abbot of Tours, in there he continued the job of the renaissance where he took the monks to create more accurate latin translations of the Bible, latin fathers, and the latin classics.

I believe that the Carolingian Renaissance provided lots of contributions to the West. One of the most important contributions is the introduction of a single standard of writing, which is practically the one used today. This style is called “Carolingian minuscule”. Back in the old days, writing styles would differ in different geographic areas of the world. For example, the Roman style was all capitals and no space between the words, Carolingian minuscule changed this by introducing commas, lower-case letters, space between words, apostrophes, etc.

The Franks and the Church

Perhaps the most or one of the most important Barbarian groups known for the development of Western Civilization is that one of the Franks. This barbarian group was localized within the area of Gaul. With its tremendous power at battle and capable leaders it was able to conquer and spread its kingdom to become the mightiest of the barbarians. When they began to convert to christianity following their Merovingian king’s conversion (Clovis), they enabled the expansion of Christendom.

Their conversion was easy, but slow and this took the Church to train and teach the Franks with great dedication. For this reason, France is known as the “eldest daughter of the Church”. The Franks gave Christianity an advantage with respect to conversion, as they were not Arians, religion which basically taught that Christ was not God. That is to say that they were not structured with preconceived ideas about Jesus Christ, so it was easier to teach them and convert them to Christianity than it was with other barbarian groups who believed in the heresy of Arianism.

However, their conversions normally were in the masses following their leaders’ choices, which would put to doubt the sincerity of some of those who converted instantly, simply pursuing the leader. This led some Franks to worship both their gods and Jesus, even within the clergymen. During the mid-seventh century, the Frankish army would sacrifice women and children to satisfy the battle spirits. Then, St. Boniface would be the one to officially report to the Church the conditions in Merovingian Gaul, which were poor indeed. People were buying church offices to gain influence, using church property to enrich their families, clerics would engage in marriage, and others would carry weapons and shed blood. The church of the Franks needed reformation.

In order to carry out the reform, St. Boniface obtained the assistance from the Mayors of the Palace which were the Carolingians, mainly Pepin the short and Carloman. This reformation created a bond of friendship between the Franks and the papacy as they were now in continuous contact.  Meanwhile, the Carolingian family grew in fame and power. They took full control of the office of Mayor of the Palace and made it a hereditary office, they began to exercise the authority de facto (unofficial but legal) of the king, and held outstanding military power famously proven by Charles Martel who defeated the Muslims at the Battle of Tours (732).

The Merovingians were fierce warriors, but incompetent rulers in every single area of the administration. They also had problems between themselves and slaughtered each other’s families and people. The Frankish kingdom needed order and it was being established mainly by the Catholic Church alongside the Mayors of the Palace or Carolingians. Therefore, in realizing this, Pepin the Short became interested in legitimately acquiring the title of the king and this meant that he would not take it by force but ask for it.

Pepin went to the current pope, Pope Zachary I, and asked him if it was a good situation for the king to have no power and for those who had it to not hold the title of the king. Zachary answered saying that it was not good, that it was disorder and unnatural, so he blessed the change of dynasty from the Merovingian family to the Carolingian family in 751. To me this all seems very political (not genuine), as the Church would want something in return to the favor it gave to the Carolingians and Franks, in general, of establishing order. The Church would seek allegiance, protection, and military power with the mighty Franks as it had to cope with Roman aristocrats, the Byzantine Empire, and the Lombards who wanted to take Rome by force and not respect the Pope’s authority.

All those factors gave rise to the Papal-Frankish alliance. The popes were beginning to grow more and more doubtful of the reliability of the Byzantine emperors in being their allies and protectors. First of all the Byzantines were involved in heresies like monothelism and iconoclasm, they harassed some popes, sometimes sought to control the decisions of the church, and were not very worried about the grow in power of the threatening Lombards. Hence, when the Anglo-Saxons (Boniface and Clement) came as missionaries to convert the German peoples and reform the Frankish church, they became the key link of uniting the Papacy with the Frankish leaders.

When the conflict of the Popes between the Byzantine empire and the Lombards began, the Popes could not simply break away from the alliance with Byzantium as that would have made them vulnerable to any attack by the Lombards that surrounded Rome. For some time in the 7th century, the Lombards reduced their pressure on the conquest of rome, until their leader, Aistulf, acquired the power and renewed their ambition. The moment Aistulf took the city of Ravenna, the Byzantines simply responded with a diplomatic note of protest. This worried the Papacy evermore and in the fall of 753, Pope Stephen II became the first pope to cross the Alps and negotiate with Aistulf to forswear the siege of Rome and return conquered territory. When that failed, the pope went to the Franks, specifically Pepin the Short who defeated the Lombards and returned the stolen land to the Popes.

Aeschylus’ View of the Trojan War

Aeschylus wrote a famous tragedy, sort of satyr trilogy known as The Oresteia in which he tells the story of king Agamemnon and his family. Within the first play called Agamemnon, Aeschylus includes the legendary story of the Trojan war. Here he establishes his own view of the war.

This writer confirms the classical greek view and pretty much the view of many civilizations in ancient times about the relevance of the gods in pretty much everything that is done. The gods are territorial gods and each one holds specific authority over a city or geographical area. For example, some would rule over mountains, others over valleys, others over rivers, others over oceans, others over Athens, others over Troy, etc. An army’s victory depended greatly upon the area the war was fought and if the god of such army had jurisdiction upon that specific geographical area or city. In other words, while human beings fought with swords on their hands killing each other, the gods would fight amongst themselves to proportion the ultimate victory.

For this precise matter we see that while Agamemnon is on a boat with his soldiers undergoing a terrible storm due to the apparent causeless anger of the goddess of Artemis, there is a “harsh yoke of necessity” to sacrifice a human being to placate her. Agamemnon chooses in an “unholy” matter to sacrifice his own daughter. The sacrifice enabled the fleet to live and advance in war. However, the gods then punish the fleet by sinking it.

This comes to show that it is all an unethical world filled with revenge, hatred, death, irrational punishment, destruction, human sacrifice, sexual immorality, murder, etcetera and etcetera. Everything is caused by the gods, continued by the gods, and finished by the gods. Their strength and their whims are what determine the history of humanity causing many to engage in sinful affairs, according to the writings of Aeschylus.

St. Augustine

Saint Augustine of Hippo lived from 354 to 430 and was a successful Christian theologian who wrote bountifully. He developed Christian thought and influenced Western philosophy along with many other philosophers after him, like Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica. Honestly, this man’s story truly impressed me.

He was a young man devoted to the pleasures of the flesh who was a hearer of Manichaeanism (philosophy that says there are two principles or gods in an infinite gigantic struggle; a good and an evil one). On the other hand, his mother, Monica, was a devoted Christian that cried unceasingly to God in prayer for her son. One day, she decided to go to her local bishop and expose her son’s living and he let her know that her unending clamor would save her son.

Meanwhile, lots of questions were being formed in Augustine’s mind. He wondered about the certainty of knowing an eternal truth if our carnal mind is limited. The need of understanding the reason of there being a conflict between the two gods of Manichaeanism also unsettled Augustine. One day, a Manichaean bishop known as Faustus was in Augustine’s town and he went to see the bishop to see if he could answer his questions. The bishop was unable to answer them leaving Augustine completely disappointed.

Later, he shortly abandoned manichaeanism, moved to Rome to teach rhetoric and became a Skeptic (philosophy that says nothing can be known as an absolute truth with certainty). In Rome he wasn’t cracking a good profit as the students didn’t pay for the lessons, so he moved to Milan. Not a lot of time passed until he became a Neo-Platonist (philosophy that followed Plato). In this philosophy he began to accept the possibility of there being an immaterial realm. Neo-Platonism also solved Augustine’s question of there being a conflict between the good and evil gods or principles. They said that evil is merely a privation of good, just as darkness is only the absence or privation of light. In other words, darkness has no substance, but light does. An unturned lightbulb is not shinig darkness, but it is actually not lighting or having substance. The same is true for good and evil, according to the Neo-Platonists explanation.

In Milan he went to listen to one of the greatest speakers of the time, St. Ambrose of Milan. Augustine went interested in the rhetoric techniques, but it came to be that the Saint and Augustine became close friends. Nevertheless, Augustine was not yet convinced of entering Christianity, despite the fact he was little by little abandoning Neo-Platonism. A time came when he was sitting in a garden with his friend Alypius talking about their spiritual journeys. Here Augustine wondered if his time had come to become a Christian and as he was wondering he heard a childlike voice from another side of the wall that said “tolle lege” (pick up and read). He thought this to mean that God was telling him to pick up the Bible and read the first passage that he came across to. This passage was the following:

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 14:13-14

Considering his sinful past, Augustine was practically slapped on the face by reading this. The scripture hit him right in the heart and was converted into Christianity in 386 to be baptized later by St. Ambrose of Milan in 387. It turned out that his mother, Monica, was still alive to see the fulfilment of her prayers. Four years later, St. Augustine was ordained into the priesthood and in a few years became the bishop of Hippo.

Two of the most famous writings that St. Augustine wrote are Confessions and the City of God. I find it very interesting to see how Augustine abandoned every philosophy tht he followed to permanently stay in the belief of Christianity. It is also attention grabbing to see how the prayers of a mother to God (not a Saint or man) for her son are answered.

St. Augustine’s Works

The two most well known literary works of St. Augustine are his very famous autobiography Confessions and his book City of God. His works are influenced by Plato like his philosophy of the eternal forms. This philosophy says that the material things we see are a copy of an invisible, immaterial, and indestructible form that is eternal. Forms are the reason why we have comparative judgment, which implies we have an absolute standard. The reason we know something is more beautiful than another thing is because we have an eternal standard or form of beauty. Plato was never really able to tell people the origin of the forms and Augustine simply said that they were in the mind of God.

In christianity Augustine acquired his answer about the capability of a limited, time-bound, and changeable mind to comprehend eternal, unchangeable truths. He said that our mind obviously needs outside help to understand what is unchangeable and beyond its capacity, this is divine illumination. Just as the sun makes things visible, divine light makes eternal truths visible so that we perceive that they are necessary and eternal truths. Simply speaking, our mind can’t create eternal truths but we get them from a changeless being who is God. Therefore, our soul, which apprehends the eternal and indestructible forms, is similar to them and is immortal.

Augustine’s moral theory is resemblant to that one of the greeks that says that the end of human conduct is happiness. Yet, Augustine’s eudaimonia is when you have achieved to possess God. God’s eternal laws are written in man’s heart and following these laws is what makes man what God meant him to be. Original sin doesn’t let us follow the laws, thus we need God’s grace to observe them. Moral perfection amounts to loving God, while evil is falling away from God.

That last statement is what most of City of God is about. In 410 Rome was being attacked and sacked by the Barbarians so they all blame the wimpy religion of Christianity that made them weak. Augustine disproves this argument in his book. He speaks of rome of a decadent and corrupt society that is responsible of its own fall, not Christianity. Augustine says that we should think in moral terms, not political or economic. Real human drama involves the salvation of individual souls and whether or not Rome survives is not relevant to this. Political systems do not save souls, but only God’s grace. Either we love God or we love ourselves that is the key question. The pagan empire of Rome is the embodiment of Babylon and its fall will not damage the city of God. The city of man and the city of God are found in the hearts of every single individual being and the love you have depends to which one you will belong.

Answering Augustine’s Questions

I would like to try to answer Augustine’s questions, if you don’t mind.

Let’s begin with the question of the ability of a limited mind to understand eternal truths. The Bible says that we are a tripartite being in Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Two thirds of our whole being (spirit and soul) are of eternal substance, while our body and all it contains, or all that conforms it, is perishable.

The mind that God gave us in essence is not limited but carnal or humane mind is because it’s corrupted and bounded by worldly structures. Augustine says that our minds can only grasp eternal truths by Divine illumination or revelation, however a person need not believe in God to comprehend that 2+2=4. Since they are created, our spirit and soul that are gifted by God already contain the ability to understand eternal truths. As a matter of fact, they were designed to know the Truth (Jesus whom is eternal). So our mind is not limited, but, as I have been saying throughout other essays, reason is. In other words, reason cannot completely grasp the absolue eternal Truth, but the mind of the Spirit can.

The mind of the flesh that is molded by reason develops all laws through what is physically and emotionally proven or experienced. That is to say that this previous mind will never discern spiritual reality, just ask science or psychology for that matter. This will necessarily take me to err in the illusive reality that I form because all true or real things come from the spiritual realm. They come from God or the devil, which are both spirits.

This leads me to answer Augustine’s next question, “Why is there a conflict between good and evil”. The truth is that there isn’t. Good and Evil are from the same real and substantial fruit in the garden of Eden, the real conflict resides in life and death. To understand this, we must know what real life is. Real life never dies, our soul and our spirit live forever, but our body dies. In other words, our body is not truly alive, but our eternal parts in it are. It is like a CPU. The cover of the CPU is not what makes the CPU function or be alive, but the mechanism within it. If the cover is destroyed and somehow the mechanism survives, all you do is change the cover. When our body returns to dust, our soul and spirit change residence, so to speak.

Therefore, we have a tree of life that gives life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil that gives death. To be blunt, doing good or doing evil causes no difference, but doing things that give life or death does. You can ask Adam and Eve when you see them in eternity or you can ask God now.

Knowing the last mentioned words we can better understand this scripture: For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:5

Everything we think and do now determines what our tomorrow will look like. However, there are things we do that do not have any real impact. For example, we can create robots using the eternal truths of mathematics, but these creations will not have an impact in eternity because they are not done in the spiritual realm. That is to say that only what we do in what is purely eternal, which is our spirit, will touch or even shape eternity. There are people that are only remembered on earth, others are remembered in heaven and earth because they shook eternity. Where and how do you want to be remembered?

The Significance of Rome

The Roman Empire is one of the greatest contributors to the development of Western civilization. Due to its considerable spread, Rome was able to influence not only the West, but a large amount of the East as well. Rome’s influence covers religion, art, architecture, philosophy, government, and other areas, too.

When it comes to religion we know that the spread of Christianity wouldn’t have been very easy. The Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion and all its territories were to practice it, thus the most part of Europe adopted the religion. Even after the fall of the empire, these territories remained largely influenced and even governed by the Catholic Church for centuries to come. This eventually led to the christianization of the New World.

Just as religion, the preservation and spread of Greek philosophy and culture was possible. This also comprises Latin literature. Writers like Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Seneca and others were continued to be read and studied deeply throughout the history of the Western world.

I believe that the key into making all of this proliferation and coservation possible is language. Latin is the foundation of five different languages (Romance languages) in the world, three of which are both spoken in Europe and the Americas. Other Germanic languages like English hold about 50% of Latin origin in their vocabulary. Additionally, Latin is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Obviously this opens an opportunity for a great number of people to learn different languages and therefore communicate with facility all around the world.

The idea of there being a Natural law and the propagation of it is owed to the Roman Empire. Natural law alludes to the concept of there being a single standard of justice that applies to all human beings disregarding race, wealth, age, sex, etcetera. For example, everyone has a right to private property and anyone who violates it is to be punished. We all have a right to life, to liberty, and property and those who do not follow these rights, without caring who they are, should be punished.

Finally, the Romans provided knowledge in art, architecture, and many inventions. Aqueducts, the Codex of the Bible, Roman arches, columns, domes, concrete and a great many other inventions were created and/or perfected by the Roman Empire. All of this is clearly seen and even used today.