Microbiographia | Issue 20

Microbiographia | Issue 20

Saint Thomas Aquinas - Rebel, Theologian, Ass-rider

Ok, hereís how Iíma lay it down this week. Weíll kick off with a little historical context, just to keep it real. Then Iíll dive into a couple of choice anecdotes: brace yourselves for a guy falling off a donkey. Finally, Iíll give some time to Saint Thomasí work itself Ė work that certainly merits a doffing of the proverbial hat. Nuff talk, here we go: Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian philosopher and theologian who lived in the 1200s. And yes, Aquinas College is named after him.

As the youngest son of a well-to-do Italian family, Thomas was sent off to join the Catholic church. Not content with having his future prescribed for him, he resolved to defy his parentsí wishes. At nineteen, Thomas abandoned plans to become a Benedictine monk and joined the Dominican order instead. I donít really know what this means, but apparently it was a big deal. Thomas was sent to France by the Dominicans in an attempt to escape his motherís interference. Instead, his mother had him kidnapped and brought back home by his brothers. He was then held captive for two years. Guts. During this time, Thomasí family attempted to change his mind on the whole Dominican-Benedictine thing. Since Dominicans had to remain celibate, the attempted persuasion included his brothers tempting him with a prostitute. Legend has it that Thomas chased off the harlot with a burning stick. Later that night, he was visited by two angels. Moral of the story: be good and God will hook you up with celestial threesomes.

Many years later, now a respected religious thinker, Thomas set out on a fateful donkey-ride along the Appian way. Alas, ill winds were a-blowing. Perhaps deep in thought, or else just totally zoned out, Thomas somehow managed to hit his head on a tree branch. This knocked him off his steed and left him gravely ill. Although he seemed to recover for a time, Thomas soon relapsed and ultimately passed away. As tragic as all this is, there is something inherently comedic about a guy riding an ass hitting his head and falling down. Call it bad taste but I had a bit of a chuckle at his expense - mysterious ways and all that. Slapstick is awesome.

Thomasí life wasnít all donkey-rides and threesomes, he also jammed out some rad philosophical notions. Although to my mind none of his five proofs of God measure up, much of his reasoning about the nature of God is spot on. For example, Thomas contended that whatever brought about the universe must have been as simple as possible Ė just like the Big Bang. Consider my hat doffed.
This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2012.
Posted 5:14pm Sunday 12th August 2012 by Toby Newberry.