In an interview televised yesterday, St. Augustine gained the upper hand on Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has been accusing St. Augustine of illogical and inflated representation of the events of his own life in the classic Confessions (see previous articles, part one and part two).
Oprah: And we're back. St. Augustine, the pear tree in book two. Am I to understand you stole the pears, didn't eat them, and then threw them at pigs for sport?
Augustine: Yes, that's right. It was the most base point of my life.
Oprah: Stealing pears was your most base moment? How can you possibly argue that? For cripes sake, you're sleeping with every other woman in the book in your teenage years. And they were just...pears.
Augustine: It was about motive. I had no need for the pears and no appreciation for the pears. I could have seen them as beautiful objects of God's creation, but I didn't.
Oprah: So pineapples wouldn't have cut it? I always thought they looked strange, like diving into a mutant pine cone.
Augustine: Sure, or a coconut. Brown, ugly, hairy things. I'm a saint and I still don't understand God's intention on that one.
Oprah: So if it had been a more attractive fruit...
Augustine: No, no, we're getting off track here. The thing is, I stole the pears only because I got a thrill out of doing something that was wrong.
Oprah: (intake of breath) Like James Frey....
Augustine: Excuse me?
Oprah: Sir, what do you think of Frey's A Million Little Pieces Memoir? It's clear that he overstated incidents of his life to the point of lying. Do you think he is getting a thrill out of doing something that is wrong? Maybe demonstrating a kind of addiction still, but to risky behavior? I mean, let's be honest, if Confessions is on the up and up, you seem to have been addicted to some risky behavior yourself.
Augustine: Well, I think you can say I was "addicted" to sin, especially lust...personally, I'd call it habit. That's why the grace of God was both unearned and absolutely necessary. Look, God knows James' motives, not me. Of course it's objectively wrong for Frey to misrepresent what happened and then call it his life. However, I can't imagine this public flogging was the most pastoral way to persuade him to tell the truth. (clapping)
Oprah: But the people have a right to know!
Augustine: The people have a right to be treated with human dignity, as God would wish for any of his children. (Audience gives a standing ovation.)
Oprah ceded the rest of the show as St. Augustine riveted the audience with a lengthy explication on the relevance of The City of God, On Free Will, and On the Holy Trinity in the present day. At the end of the show, ecstatic audience participants found copies of Confessions under their seats, and rushed the stage for autographs.
"That was fantastic," gushed a audience member afterward. "I never knew a Christian could be so smart, and I watch TV all the time."