“How can anyone suffer an unhappy life by the will, when absolutely no one wills to be unhappy?”
This small human mystery posed by Saint Augustine is just one of the questions we have pondered each Tuesday and Thursday morning this semester at 8:30 in our Conversatio seminar. The debut of the College’s new humanities program has taken us from the stage of Antigone to the dungeon with Boethius and Lady Philosophy, and then off across the country and "Into the Wild." We have sampled "The Desert Fathers" and read "The Rule of St. Benedict."
Now as we whirl from "The Gospel of John" to the "Bhagavad Gita," we step into the darkening days of November with new thoughts about the ways of life in which individuals and communities through the ages have sought happiness, pursued truth, and understood the divine. A few weeks ago we met Fr. Mathias at the statue of St. Benedict to begin our tour of the monastery. Suddenly it seemed a moment worth capturing for posterity. Someone seeing the picture asked me, “Are your students always that happy at 8:30 in the morning?” I thought about Saint Augustine and his puzzle about the human will and human unhappiness.
“Almost always,” I replied.