Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Symptoms...

- Crawly feeling and headache
- Body aches
- Chills
- Fatique

Just waiting for the respiratory problems and fever.

I have a final on Friday. If you could add me to your prayer list for a rapid recovery from whatever this is, I would greatly appreciate it.

So far, I don't have an urge to root for morrells.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Catholic Cage Match: Augustine vs. Pelagius

The Catholic Church owes much of its early understanding of grace to St. Augustine of Hippo. He is frequently referred to as the Doctor of Grace because of the way in which he synthesized and articulated the Church’s teachings on this topic.[i] While not all of his thought has perdured as official doctrine of the faith (for example, his teaching on double predestination),[ii] his theological fingerprints are evident in much of what the Church has taught concerning grace over the last 1600 years. One of the factors in the development in Augustine’s doctrine of grace was his response to two pernicious heresies of the day: first, Donatism and later, Pelagianism.[iii] Augustine himself recognized the service (dubious though it may be) that heretics do for the Church in a letter to a friend, Boniface, in Africa:

Let not, however, things like these disturb you, my beloved son. For it is foretold to us that there must needs be heresies and stumbling-blocks, that we may be instructed among our enemies; and that so both our faith and our love may be the more approved—our faith, namely, that we should not be deceived by them[.][iv]


Indeed, Pelagius and his followers gave Augustine ample opportunity during the early part of the fifth century to develop his thoughts concerning grace.

Albert Outler describes Augustine’s concept of grace as “God’s freedom to act without any external necessity whatsoever” and “God’s unmerited love and favor, prevenient and occurrent.”[v] Jaroslav Pelikan notes that Augustine’s understanding of grace is heavily influenced by scripture, while at the same time being perhaps shaped and refined by his Neo-Platonist training.[vi] Rev. Douglas Mosey notes four primary components in Augustine’s thought on grace[vii]: 1) grace is necessary to remove the stain of original sin; 2) grace precedes and accompanies human works (as noted by Outler in Pelikan above); 3) grace heals fallen nature and leads to true liberty; 4) finally, grace assists and strengthens the will to persevere toward sanctification. Augustine recognized, along with the Greek Fathers, the divinizing and perfecting aspects of grace,[viii] but he also frequently spoke of God’s grace and Christ’s grace-giving sacrifice as medicinal: “[I]n the same way the Wisdom of God in healing man has applied Himself to his cure, being Himself healer and medicine both in one.”[ix]

In this matter, he was bound to clash with Pelagius and his followers, first Caelestius, and later with Bishop Julian of Eclanum.[x] While Augustine didn’t go so far in his approbation of Pelagius as to claim he was “stuffed with Scottish porridge” (as did Jerome[xi]), he did note the heresiarch’s mendacity and mysteriousness, complaining in one work that “Pelagius is so to involve himself in the concealments of this obscurity he can even declare that he agrees with these things that we have quoted from the writings of St. Ambrose.”[xii] However, Pelagius’ friend and follower Caelestius proclaimed more boldly the Pelagian positions. Caelestius’ formulations of these theses would be the subject of enquiry at the Council of Carthage.

What typified the Pelagian position, and what Augustine rejected, was a rigid externalism and naturalism[xiii] that, as Augustine said, would “render the cross of Christ of none effect.”[xiv] First, they denied the preternatural gift of immortality in man’s original state and believed that Adam would have died even if he had not sinned. Second, they claimed that Adam’s sin harmed only Adam and did not injure the rest of humanity. Third, they claimed that children are born in a stated of natural innocence, in the same state as Adam before his fall. Fourth, they denied that the whole human race dies through Adam's sin or death, or rises again through the resurrection of Christ. Fifth, they believed that the Mosaic Law was as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel. Finally, they insisted that prior to Christ’s Incarnation that there were men wholly without sin.[xv] In short, the Pelagians denied the doctrine of original sin (a doctrine that admittedly was still developing) and the necessity of prevenient and assisting grace for salvation. Man, according to Pelagius and his adherents, could chose to do good without being moved to do so by grace. In so doing, man can merit God’s help and grace. [xvi]

In contrast, Augustine considered grace indispensible for freeing man from the bonds of sin.[xvii] While the Pelagians considered Adam’s nature unchanged after his sin, Augustine affirmed that man’s nature was wounded and drawn toward sin through concupiscence and that sin for fallen man is the inevitable result.[xviii] In a letter to Julian, Augustine notes the long testimony against the Pelagian stance:

You are convicted on every side. The numerous testimonies in regard to original sin, testimonies of the saints, are clearer than daylight. Look what an assembly it is into which I have brought you. Here is Ambrose of Milan…. Here too is John of Constantinople…. Here is Basil…. Here are others too, whose general agreement is so great that it ought to move you. This is not, as you write with an evil pen, “a conspiracy of the lost.”[xix]


What the Pelagians denied, and what Augustine affirmed, was that man’s free will was in any way affected by Adam’s sin. For the Pelagians, man was just as capable of choosing good after the fall as prior. Adam’s chief impact on mankind was through his bad example but that human nature still retained the innate ability to conquer sin.[xx] Even the effects Christ’s redemptive work were limited to doctrine and example rather than any interior effects on man’s soul.[xxi]

Central, then, to this debate were the different understanding of grace held by Augustine and Pelagius. For Augustine, grace was necessary to move man toward good and was given undeserved and unmerited.[xxii] “It is not grace if any merits precede it,” Augustine wrote, “for then what is given is not as gratuitous but as owed, it is paid out for merits rather than bestowed.”[xxiii] Pelikan notes that both Augustine and Pelagius recognized the necessity of grace toward perfection,

[B]ut Augustine saw in grace the knowledge of the good, the joy in doing the good, and the capacity to will the good, while for Pelagius “the ability [posse]” came from God, but both the “willing [velle]” and “acting [esse]” depended on the free decision of man.[xxiv]


To the Pelagians, the doctrine of original sin was, in Pelikan’s words, a “disparagement of nature” hence “a disparagement of grace.”[xxv] As Julian of Eclanum put it, the doctrine of original sin was simply self-contradictory: “If sin is natural, it is not voluntary; if it is voluntary, it is not inborn.” [xxvi] How can one have free will if one is compelled to sin without grace and compelled toward good through grace? For the Pelagians, free will prevailed. While grace was necessary for the remission of sins committed, the Pelagians held that it was not necessary for justification.

For Augustine, concupiscence held the upper hand in man’s wounded nature, and God’s grace through Christ and the Holy Spirit had to move man and free him from sin before he could again be free to choose good.[xxvii] Grace, then, both preceded good works and accompanied them and was absolutely necessary for justification. Grace and free will had to be held in tension with each other. The Doctor of Grace himself would often have a difficult time walking the fine line between the two.[xxviii] Nonetheless, the Council of Carthage condemned Caelestius’ Pelagian theses in 418, and the Council of Ephesus condemned Pelagianism as a heresy in 431.

Interestingly, while scripture played a major part for Augustine in formulating the doctrine of grace, what also proved definitive was the traditional practice of infant baptism. While Augustine affirmed the necessity of infant baptism for the remission of sins (including original sin), the Pelagians had a difficult time reconciling the necessity for infant baptism in light of their denial of original sin. All three of the major Pelagian players admitted, even if with some reluctance, the necessity of infant baptism.[xxix] “The doctrine of original sin, of the fall, of the transmission of sin, and of the necessity of grace appeared to make sense of infant baptism,” notes Pelikan, and notably included in the canons of the Council of Carthage in 418 against the Pelagians was one anathematizing anyone disputing the necessity of infant baptism for the remission of original sin.[xxx] The doctrine of grace as formulated by Augustine and affirmed by the Councils of Carthage and Ephesus seems to be a textbook example of how sacred scripture, sacred tradition, and magisterial authority all work together to affirm the doctrines of our faith.

Works Cited and Referenced

Augustine. "Christian Doctrine." Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 14 April 2009 <http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.v.iv.xiv.html>.

—. "Letter 185." New Advent. 14 April 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102185.htm>.

—. "On Nature and Grace." New Advent. 12 April 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1503.htm>.

Jurgens, William A. the Faith of the Early Fathers. Vol. Volume 3. Collegeville: The Liturgucal Press, 1979.

Mosey, Rev. Douglas. "Patristics: Lecture 5." International Catholic University. Catholic Educational Television, Inc., 2006.

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition: The Christian Tradition. Vol. 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971.

Pohle, Joseph. "Pelagius and Pelagianism." 1911. The Catholic Encyclopedia. 12 April 2009 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11604a.htm>.

Endnotes

[i] Rev. Douglas Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 5,” International Catholic University, (Catholic Educational Television, Inc., 2006), 8.

[ii] Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition: The Christian Tradition, Vol. 1 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1971), 293.

[iii] Ibid., 308.

[iv] Augustine, “Letter 185,” New Advent, 14 April 2009, <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102185.htm>.

[v] Ibid., 294.

[vi] Ibid., 296. Clearly, a passing familiarity with the Magister’s responses to Pelagius and his followers demonstrate the preponderance of scriptural formation in his thought. See in particular “On Nature and Grace,” in which St. Augustine presents verse after verse in refutation of Pelagian claims on grace and original sin.

[vii] Mosey, 8.

[viii] Ibid., 9.

[ix] Augustine, Christian Doctrine, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 14 April 2009, <http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.v.iv.xiv.html>.

[x] Joseph Pohle, “Pelagius and Pelagianism,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, 29 March 2009, <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11604a.htm>.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3, (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1979), 129.

[xiii] Mosey, 10.

[xiv] Augustine, “On Nature and Grace,” New Advent, 12 April 2009, <http://www.newadvent.org/
fathers/1503.htm>.

[xv] Pohle.

[xvi] Mosey, 11.

[xvii] Ibid., 10.

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] Jurgens, 144.

[xx] Pohle.

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] Mosey, 10.

[xxiii] Jurgens, 165.

[xxiv] Pelikan, 315.

[xxv] Ibid.

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Mosey, 10.

[xxviii] Pelikan, 320. In particular, Pelikan notes the objection of some opponents of predestination and other positions of Augustinism such as John Cassian.

[xxix] Ibid., 317.

[xxx] Ibid., 318.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Greetings from Lexington

Kentucky, not Massachusetts. It seems like a lovely day (although I'm inside and can't really tell), and the people are quite friendly. I'm doing some training here, and the participants are lauging at my jokes. That's a good thing.

One of them even recognized who it was on my polo shirt.

I'm still frightfully busy. My final is 10 days away, and I have way too much work to do.

See you when I see you!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Catholic Social Teaching

My wife brought up a chapter of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, noting that it was bound to tick of people of a particular political stripe.

My response? There's something there to piss off everybody.

That's what it means to stand for the truth—to tell it how it is regardless of the response.

Questions for Lecture 6

Describe the move from martyrdom to the life of the hermit as the path to holiness.

Until 313 AD (when the Edict of Milan legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire), being a Christian meant that one may be subject to persecution and death. Just deciding to become a Christian required a serious commitment as it frequently meant a loss of status at very least. Following the legalization of Christianity, this radical path of Christianity was no longer available, and as time went on, many Christians didn’t have the desire for such an intense life of sacrifice for their faith.

However, there were some who truly wanted to live a radical life of spiritual commitment. Because the avenue of martyrdom was no longer available to them (at least not to the same degree as it had been before), some sought another kind of martyrdom—one of spirit rather than body. These people began to separate themselves from society, often in the deserts of the East, and live as hermits. Of course, their living was primitive and sparse. This lifestyle, which eventually evolved onto monasticism, is sometimes referred to as “white martyrdom,” as opposed to the red martyrdom of the earlier Church period.

The writings of St. Athanasius went a ways to promote this lifestyle. On one of his many exiles and sojourns in the desert, he befriended St. Anthony of the Desert, one of the great Desert Fathers. He wrote a biography of St. Anthony, and that biography became the impetus for many who sought a more radical encounter with Christ to choose a hermetical existence.

St. Basil the Great himself wanted to live the life of a hermit but was denied this opportunity with the exception of a short period of time. However, he greatly encouraged this lifestyle, and in a series of conversations with other monastics, developed an important set of guidelines for monastic life in the East—the short and long rules of St. Basil. St. Benedict would later develop something similar for the West.

Describe the contributions of Ignatius of Antioch, Origen, Clement and Jerome.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was possibly a direct student of St. John the Evangelist and Apostle and a friend of St. Polycarp. He wrote a series of letters as he was being transported to Rome for trial. One of the most memorable letters he wrote was to the Church of Rome. In it, he noted his love for them but also his concern that in their zeal for him they might prevent his martyrdom. He asserted his complete desire for and surrender to martyrdom, evoking an image of wheat being ground by the beasts in the coliseum into bread for Christ. This letter is also invoked as an early example of a bishop who recognized the ascendancy of the See of Rome and of the limits of his own authority as a bishop to his own diocese.

Origen was a theologian and scripture scholar in Alexandria. He is known for his creative spiritual exegesis of scripture and his development of the school of theology started by Clement of Alexandria. Because of disagreements with his own bishop, he was ordained by a bishop in the Holy Land and wound up in exile in Jerusalem, where he started another school of theology. While Origen has been repeatedly accused of (and condemned) for heresy after his death, he truly desired to be orthodox and to teach the faith of the Church. He wrote (according to Eusebius) some 2000 titles. However, because of his troubled history, only a small remnant of his works remain—many of them cited or translated by St. Jerome, who held him in high regard as an exegete.

St. Clement of Alexandria was a teacher of Origen and started the Catechetical School of Alexandria (also called the Didascalium). He helped to develop a proper sense of Christian Gnosis in opposition to the Gnosticism that was prevalent at the time. As a philosopher, he was well versed in pagan literature and developed a Christian Platonism. Clement understood the need for Christians to engage in philosophical modes to fully understand their faith.

St. Jerome is known mostly for two things: the Latin Vulgate and his charming personality. As an aside, I have to say that I’m tempted to study Jerome for the sheer entertainment value. I’m certain I would still learn a great deal from this saint, but I confess that I find him captivating largely because of his reputation as a monumental curmudgeon. He should be the patron saint of Catholic bloggers. That said, he contributed a great deal to the study of scripture, understanding the absolute necessity of knowing the original languages of scripture as a means of seeking the intent of the author. He greatly esteemed Origen’s work on scripture, although he clearly had some disagreement with some of Origen’s theological opinions. He inserted himself (bidden or not) into every theological dispute of his day. Concerning him, I am reminded of the words in Revelation to the Church of Laodicea concerning being lukewarm. St. Jerome was anything but. For whatever faults he may have had in the charity department, he had zeal for Christ.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lecture 5 Study Questions

Comments on Augustine's theology concerning these questions would be appreciated. I've found that most of these lectures are simply not deep enough, nor do they provide much in the way sources references.

Describe the main themes in Augustine's theology of grace.

Augustine’s theology of grace breaks down into four main themes: grace as a remedy for original sin; grace as preparation for and coincidental with good works; grace as a healing response to fallen nature that liberates man from sin; and grace as a mean of assistance toward sanctification.

Grace is needed as a remedy for original sin. While Adam was created good, he willed to disobey God and fell from the state of grace (at which time he lost also many of the preternatural gifts of original justice). This sin was passed from Adam and Eve to all mankind. Grace, particularly infused at baptism, eliminates original sin and restores man to a state of grace.

Grace precedes and accompanies good works. Grace is prevenient in that it prepares the will for good works, and it is also accompanies the good works. So grace prevents man from sinning and assists man in developing habitual grace or virtue.
Grace heals fallen nature and frees the will. Concupiscence acts to lean man’s will toward evil. Grace does the opposite and encourages man to do good. Augustine described both grace and concupiscence as binding. The former bound us to righteousness while the latter bound us to sin. However we can also see grace as a force freeing us from the bonds of sin.

Augustine reflects the Greek Fathers’ understanding of grace also as divinizing force. However, he also repeatedly invokes the image of Christ as a healer and grace as medicinal. While grace infused in baptism removes the guilt of original sin, there’s still a process of healing that must take place to address the wound to our nature.

Grace assists and strengthens the will to persevere toward sanctification. While the Pelagians denied the necessity of grace for sanctification, Augustine insisted that man needs continual assistance. Grace is both prevenient (preventive) and occurrent (immediate or coincidental) so that it precedes the works we do but also accompanies them to bear us up to persist in our efforts.

Describe Augustine's use of analogies as a contribution to Trinitarian theology.

Augustine used analogies, particularly analogies of the human psyche, as a way of explaining the relationality of the three Persons of the Trinity. His starting point or platform from which he starts is Genesis 1:26, in which God says, “Let us make man in our own image.” So Augustine expects, then, to see the Trinitarian reality reflected in some way in man’s psychological make-up.

Augustine starts with the notion of love, which involves the subject who loves, the object of love, and the love itself. In the human person, this trifold relationship comprises the mind, the mind’s knowledge of itself, and the love of itself. These three things are one, and when they are perfect, they are equal—that is, when the mind knows itself and loves itself as it is, then all are equal. And while each has a relationship to the other, the three are distinct but not separate and are the soul itself. Each also permeates the others so that the three distinct ‘substances” extend through out and cannot be seen as distinct in essence. Yet they remain three relationally.

Augustine also suggested other psychological analogies: a thing seen by the imagination, the act of seeing by the imagination, and the willing focus on the thing seen; the memory, the internal internal seeing by the memory, and will; mind, knowledge, and love/desire; memory, understanding, and will.

However, with each model he proposed, he acknowledged how they fell short of describing the Trinity, but the intent was give people some more concrete way in which to understand how there could exist three Persons in one Divine nature.

If anyone would like to comment on these analogies, I’d be grateful for some elaboration. I’ve delved a bit into the first, but the others I haven’t found in the source yet. The course lecture tends toward breadth at the expense of depth.

Describe the three main steps in Augustine's approach to the mystery of the Trinity.

Augustine’s first step in approaching the mystery of the Trinity is to draw some conclusions about the implications of the Three in One. In his examination of the mystery of the Trinity, Augustine starts by examining the various scriptural expressions about God, those pointing both to the distinctiveness within God and those that affirm the Oneness and unity of God as absolute, simple, indivisible, and unchangeable. The unity is identical with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three are identical with it. However, they are distinct from each other. From this point, Augustine comes to three conclusions. First, all of the absolute perfections of God should be expressed in the singular. Although, Father, Son, and Spirit are each good, there are not three separate goods, but one; not three separate wisdoms, but one; not three distinct omnipotences, but one. Second, the three act in concert, inseparably, in common. There is one Divine will, so the three all act in accord with it. Third, we can attribute to one Divine Person what belongs to all three Persons together.

The second step in Augustine’s approach is to respect the true distinctiveness of each Person of the Trinity, despite the essential unity. Augustine built upon the ideas of the Cappadocian Fathers concerning the relationality of the three Persons, noting that each Person is related to the Person (or Persons) from whom He originates. Father is distinct from Son and Son from Father. The relationship is mutually opposing, and each cannot be the other. The Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son. Augustine didn’t like using the term Person because it connoted independence of substance. However, because of the inadequacies of language, we have the limitations we do. The Greek Fathers used the term hypostasis or prosopon to refer to the same idea. Human vocabulary will always fall short of capturing the truth about God and the Trinity.

The third step in St. Augustine’s approach concerns the procession of the Holy Spirit. The original Nicene-Constantinople Creed notes that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Doctor of Grace came to the conclusion that Father and Son are one principle or source with respect to the Holy Spirit. The Greek Fathers (at least some) accepted the notion that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. Saint Augustine notes that whatever the Son has of the Father, He should certainly have that the Holy Spirit should also proceed from Him.

Describe how Pelagius and Augustine differ as to their understanding of grace.

Augustine held the traditional view that by Adam, death entered the world but that Adam was immortal otherwise immortal prior to sinning. Pelagians held that Adam would have died even if he hadn’t sinned.

Augustine held that Adam’s sin caused a wound to his nature that was subsequently passed down by heredity to all mankind. Pelagians denied that this was the case and believed that Adam’s sin harmed only himself in any substantive way and that his impact on mankind was merely through his sinful example, which individuals emulate.
Augustine uses the tradition of infant baptism as support to the position that original sin is passed down from parents to their children and that mankind inherits the wound caused by Adam’s fall. While Pelagians accepted the necessity of baptism for salvation, they held that newborns were in the same state of original innocence as Adam.

Augustine held that mankind inherited death through Adam’s disobedience but will rise again because of Christ’s resurrection. Pelagians denied that mankind experiences death because of Adam’s sin and contraction of death. They also denied that mankind rises again because of Christ’s resurrection.

Pelagians held that the law (Mosaic Law) is as effective a path to salvation as the Gospel of Christ. Augustine indicates that this position empties the gospel of its meaning and makes it such that Christ died in vain.

Pelagians held that even before the Gospel, there were men who lived righteous lives without sin. Augustine does not deny this, but he notes that they are still righteous because of grace, not despite it. He also points out that we don’t know that these men were without sin but that scripture simply doesn’t dwell on those details.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Bass

The band has been working on a number of songs that require a drop D tuning, and a few others that have some low Bs. So I was forced to take advantage of an opportunity posed to me by my stepson—a six-string bass that he needed to move. He got me a very good price for it.

Turns out, it's the same line as my four-string bass.



I'm trying to get used to the new fingerings, and so far, I like. My daughter (a celloist and fledgling bass player) is also pretty happy to have a new toy around.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm back!

Happy Easter to you all! Lots going on here. I really shouldn't even be blogging yet, but I have a paper due tomorrow. That means I'm doing whatever I can to avoid writing anything topical.

So nothing on Augustine's and Pelagius' views on grace!

But I am trying to come up with a good title, and naturally, being a Catholic blogger, by "good" I mean something involving a bad pun. Something like

"How long will he Pelagius?"

Or maybe "Pelagian in the Sandbox of Heresy."

Or not.

Anyway, I'm way too busy. Deacon formation assignments are getting the better of me right now. I have new music to learn for the young adult ministry, and I also have to get used to having two more strings on this darn new six-string bass I picked up for a song.

UPDATE: I guess I should include the other possible title that I posted on my Facebook page—one I thought might make a good band name:

Catholic Cage Match: Augustine vs. Pelagius

15 Questions About Books Swiped from Julie D

The questions, not the books.

Answer and pass along.

1. Most treasured childhood book(s)?
Hate to say it, but I didn't have one (strictly speaking). However, I probably checked out Meet George Washington about a bazillion times from the school library until I was in third grade. I found a copy about 10 years ago and bought it.

2. Classic(s) you are embarrassed to admit you’ve never read?
The Odyssey.

3. Classics you read, but hated?
Tristram Shandy, The Pickwick Papers

Actually, I'm not sure those are classics in the strict sense.

4. Favorite genre(s)?
Historical fiction, fantasy, history, theology

5. Favorite light reading?
Stuff by Bernard Cornwell, S.M. Stirling, other historical fiction

6. Favorite heavy reading?
Tolkein
Jaroslav Pelikan

7. Last book(s) you finished?
O, Jerusalem

8. Last book(s) you bailed on?
The Crusades by Jonathan Riley-Smith.

9. Three books on your nightstand?
Transformation in Christ by Dietrich Von Hildebrand
The Life and Writings of Josephus
The Third Watch by Brock and Bodie Thoene (don't ask)

10. Book(s) you’ve read more than once?
Brideshead Revisited

11. The book(s) that meant the most to you when you were younger (ie, college/young adult)?
The Masks of God series by Joseph Campbell (sadly, because it reinforced my rejection of the faith)

12. Book(s) that changed the way you looked at life?
Transformation in Christ
Fire Within

13. Favorite books
I don't believe in favorite books.

14. Favorite author(s)
Hard to say. I tend to like (or dislike) whomever I'm reading.

15. Desert Island Book
I'm going to cheat. Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume II.

Bonus
Desert Island Book for Your Worst Enemy
I'm going to write something that people will doubt, but I don't have an enemy (at least I don't have anyone whom I consider an enemy). And if I did, I would probably wish that they were stuck on a desert island with the New Testament or Chesterton's Orthodoxy. My desire would be to convert them , not to punish them.

I hope that doesn't sound sanctimonious.