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True faith is a hard faith The early christians, con-Temptuous of this world be-Cause they expected christ's imminent return, felt that self-Sacrifice in his name was a man or woman's highest calling.Consequently, the martyr(From the ancient greek martus,"Witness")Became a defining feature of the faith.Not that martyrdom was simply the ultimate expression of other-Worldly devotion;There was an intercessory element as well-Martyrs could assist the living on their journey towards salvation.All this is a far cry from the"Sacrifice"Of today's islamic terrorist, winning paradise by destroying, not saving, others. One of the results, as aideen hartney argues in her highly informative survey, was a genre of"Martyr"Literature designed to advance the christian cause-The gorier and more serene the death, the better.Pagans had long believed that humans could be transformed through mental and physical discipline, and early ascetics included people as disparate as diogenes, living in his clay wine jar and rejecting the whole concept of"Society", and the millionaire Stoic thinker Seneca, committed to the idea of public service for the public good, but still justifying withdrawal into a private life of study. But while for pagans ask was a"Lifestyle"Statement only the rich could afford to indulge, for christians, anyone could do it.Its purpose was to purge the body of its desires and needs in order to bring about communion with god while still on earth;Whence the hermit(Greek er"Solitary"), and the fascination with the desert, that powerful symbol of the renunciation of society and civilisation.Since such self-Denial implied great wisdom, famous ascetics such as simeon stylites("Pillar-Man")Attracted huge crowds. More pragmatic christians took a different view.It was all very well for alexander the sleepless and his followers to wander about scrounging off others and preaching against the church for owning property, but christ's return seemed indefinitely delayed.In the interim the church needed an organisation and hierarchy to instruct the faithful, convert the unbeliever and establish the doctrine.In that context, renunciation of the demon sex could be enough of a statement about one's determination to serve both the lord and the needs of the church in the world(This is the source of the doctrine of celibacy for priests). The problem-Whether to renounce the world or serve it-Was one that deeply affected st augustine(Ad 354-430)Who, as an ascetic, wept for the loss of his monastic life when in 391 he was forcibly ordained a priest and so plunged into the hurly-Burly of the world's affairs.In her beautifully written discussion of Air Jordan 23 his famous confessions [bristol phoenix press, 104 pp], gillian clark, professor of ancient history at bristol, paints a persuasive picture of the historical augustine. Born in(Modern)Algeria in the north african"Bible-Belt"Of the roman world, augustine was educated in the classical tradition and was excited by cicero's philosophy with its command to discover the gods'/god's designs for the world.But it was only after a tortuous intellectual search that god, through the bible, finally and decisively intervened in his life. cheap jordans shoes This, clark argues, is the key to the confessions.It is the explanation ofHowa worldly young man in line for a top university career became a celibate, austere, spiritual leader of men:How"One man's life became a way of demonstrating true religion". Clark is particularly interested in augustine's almost post-Modern awareness of the slipperiness of texts and selectiveness of memory:For example, he grappled hard with the problem of accurately describing his life when he no longer felt what he had felt in the past.