“My hunch is that if people know anything about St Augustine, their picture is probably overwhelmingly negative,” Professor James K. A. Smith says, occupying a booth in the foyer of a South Kensington hotel. He suspects that they think of the fourth-century Bishop of Hippo as “the inventor of the doctrine of Original Sin . . . the champion of celibacy, and the generator of a particularly narrow doctrine of sexual ethics”.
If there is one misconception that he hopes that his new book will correct, it is the idea of an angry dogmatist: “When you really spend time with Augustine he is remarkably vulnerable, humble, and very much imagines himself as a co-pilgrim with people, rather than sitting up on this dais, sort of announcing and denouncing.”
Augustine is, he writes, less a judge than an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.
With a titular nod to Kerouac, On the Road with Saint Augustine offers the reader “an invitation to journey with an ancient African who will surprise you by the extent to which he knows you”.
At @ChurchTimes, @james_ka_smith and Madeleine Davies had a lovely conversation about Augustine and why the theologian might have something vital to say to our present age.https://t.co/5nMrBxgN6f pic.twitter.com/ZRbGFR29Zw
— Brazos Press (@BrazosPress) October 14, 2019