That should keep you busy,” an Amtrak conductor commented as he saw my already-worn copy of Saint Augustine’s City of God in front of me shortly after boarding in Baltimore for New York. Reading the 1,000-plus-page classic was not something I had planned for 2017, but something Twitter, of all things, drew me into.
Chad Pecknold, a professor of theology at my alma mater, the Catholic University of America, had the idea to conduct a 15-week seminar over Twitter on a book he was teaching this semester anyway. Of course, a classroom is one thing; social media, very much another. But sure enough, as I got myself to Twitter on that first Thursday night, a father announced he had put his kids to bed and was ready, a federal judge weighed in with his insights, and all sorts of people from varied backgrounds shared their favorite quotes from the first chapters of City of God, and made connections to politics and religion and culture today.
Now entering its fifth week, held from 8 to 10 (Eastern time) on Thursday nights, the discussion is led by Pecknold, who designates chapters and half-hour slots, all flagged by the hashtag #CivDei, which makes it easy for anyone who misses “class,” as I have already a week or two, to catch up at another hour.