Nietzsche discusses different types of passions for God. One type is the “slave who has been undeservedly pardoned and elevated, as for example in the case of Augustine, who lacks in an offensive manner all nobility of bearing and desire.”
St Augustine writes most seductively, using the nobleman’s rhetoric to fine effect. Yet what an offensive and ignoble public undertaking it is to publish one’s confessions – although in this case there was no real confessing. Instead, we get crying for milk, pinching apples, incomplete homework, flirtation with unCatholic philosophies and a wee bit of nooky.
In the end, St Augustine gets his social elevation – which is the real passion of the Confessions – by throwing his lot in with St Ambrose. St Augustine becomes the world’s greatest-holiest ever bishop-king! How? He was astute enough to recognise two things: firstly, that old Rome’s day was up; and secondly, that St Ambrose was the best contact a commoner-teacher like he could make. All that was needed was the teaching that passions are pure when ordered to the service of God and… bingo!
Bonne chance mon frère!