“It sounds to me as if St. Augustine is trying pretty hard to combat his ten years of Manicheanism,” Elena said after Pavel read aloud Book 1 Chapter 3 of Confessions.

“He is asking a lot of questions about how God can be in all things.”

“I can see the appeal of Manicheanism. Even if God made all things and sustains all things, he isn’t the things, so you have to go beyond them to find him.”

“Then why do you think God made things to begin with?”

“I don’t know. They are a necessary evil?”

“There you go blaspheming again. How can God’s creation be evil, even if necessary?”

“Because they were not in any way present or necessary to him before he made them. If a person’s goal is to participate in the life of God, then things will not be necessary to him either. If they are, it means he has not attained God’s life.”

“I’ll lay aside the fact that Christ assumed created human nature and first say that if Godlikeness is independence from things, then why are there three persons in the Trinity?”

“That is a good question. The first thing that comes to mind is that it is not good to dwell alone, but that would imply that there is necessity in God and that can’t be right. I don’t think the Father needs the Son and Holy Spirit. Their generation must be out of generosity. He must choose to give them his life. The question is if they need the Father for their life, or if he gave them independence and they choose to abide with him. I lean towards the latter.”

“So you think their essence is self-sustaining.”

“However that works, I do, or else they would live in necessity and wouldn’t be God.”

“That makes sense. Back to things. Why would God make man dependent on things if He made him in his image?”

“I wonder if man was dependent on food before the fall, or if it was just made for his enjoyment.”

“I get the idea that he was dependent on it, and the change was that he would have to work for it instead of having it abundantly provided for him.”

“And he made him at least psychologically dependent on woman, for it was not good that he dwell alone. All this necessity does not seem god-like to me.”

“If God had not created man in a state of dependence then perhaps he would have strayed from God and become a god unto himself.”

“God of what? He would not have needed the worship of other things if he were truly independent.”

“If God doesn’t need our worship, then why is that so much a part of how we are to live?” questioned Pavel.

“It seems that’s another part of our weakness. We need it to develop a relationship where we are reliant on Him.”

“You sound like you don’t think that is fair.”

“It is nice that He wants to be there for us, but I keep coming back to thinking it is sort of coy. He can’t need people to need him, so why would it be good for us to need him? Couldn’t he have made us psychologically and materially independent?”

“But then what motivation would there be to commune with Him?”

“It seems there would be a stalemate. Neither God nor man approaching or distancing himself from the other. Just floating beings drifting around in bliss with nothing to do. Sounds boring, but he can’t have the need for entertainment, so what is the basis for communion?”

“Unity in freedom, but I don’t think we can understand what that would be like because we are so dependent on it, materially and psychologically. We may have been given that need because of our weakness and proneness towards independence.”

“It’s like we have been hobbled.”

“But there is joy in communion with God and man and nature.”

“I wonder if the joy happens after experiencing deprivation. Is joy dependent on deprivation?”

“Maybe so for us, not for God, or Adam would not have been tempted to sin. You’d either have to say he sinned because he felt deprived, or because he was discontent in his constant satiety.”

“Satan may have introduced the discontent, but there must have been something to it else Eve would not have imagined there could be more.”

“Adam did have further growing to do. He took the shortcut though.”

“So if he had lived in satiety, and the shortcut caused him to live in deprivation, without that, what would have been his motivation to keep growing towards maturity? And what is maturity if not the ability to experience self-deprivation?”

“If maturity is learning to deny yourself, then if Adam and Eve had had it, they would have chosen to trust God in obedience and wait for him to provide it.”

“So maturity is doing the right thing even when you feel deprived. Sounds like a test.”

“Or a contest.”

“I could run with that, but I’ll restrain myself and say, are we dependent on winning?”

“Press on toward the prize and all that.”

“Ideally one chooses God and not riches or other material! rewards.”

“You are so determined to forsake the world. You do sound like a Manichean. God loved the world.”

“It’s a circular argument.”

“Circles are the perfect shape.”