On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts

On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts

by James K. A. Smith


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Publishers Weekly starred review

Named One of the Top 100 Books and One of the 5 Best Books in Religion for 2019 by
Publishers Weekly

This is not a book about Saint Augustine. In a way, it's a book Augustine has written about each of us. Popular speaker and award-winning author James K. A. Smith has spent time on the road with Augustine, and he invites us to take this journey too, for this ancient African thinker knows far more about us than we might expect.

Following Smith's successful You Are What You Love, this book shows how Augustine can be a pilgrim guide to a spirituality that meets the complicated world we live in. Augustine, says Smith, is the patron saint of restless hearts—a guide who has been there, asked our questions, and knows our frustrations and failed pursuits. Augustine spent a lifetime searching for his heart's true home and he can help us find our way. "What makes Augustine a guide worth considering," says Smith, "is that he knows where home is, where rest can be found, what peace feels like, even if it is sometimes ephemeral and elusive along the way." Addressing believers and skeptics alike, this book shows how Augustine's timeless wisdom speaks to the worries and struggles of contemporary life, covering topics such as ambition, sex, friendship, freedom, parenthood, and death. As Smith vividly and colorfully brings Augustine to life for 21st-century readers, he also offers a fresh articulation of Christianity that speaks to our deepest hungers, fears, and hopes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781587433894
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 65,467
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is a popular speaker who has written many books, including Awaiting the King, Imagining the Kingdom, How (Not) to Be Secular, and the Christianity Today Book Award winners You Are What You Love, Desiring the Kingdom, and Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? He is professor of philosophy at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he holds the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. He previously served as editor in chief of Comment magazine and is now editor in chief of Image journal. Smith has written for Christianity Today, First Things, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Washington Post.

Table of Contents


Heart on the Run
How to Hit the Road
Augustine Our Contemporary
How to Find Yourself
A Refugee Spirituality
How to Live Between
Detours on the Way to Myself
How to Escape
How to Aspire
How to Connect
How to Be Dependent
How to Belong
How to Believe
How to Be a Character
How to Protest
How to Be Broken
How to Hope

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On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Mark Moland 4 months ago
Sometimes the answers to the challenges we face today are found on dusty back roads trod centuries before. In On The Road With Saint Augustine, James K. A. Smith describes our modern restlessness and invites us to consider Augustine as a guide to point our heart to the end of its wanderings. I appreciate that Smith approaches Augustine as both a philosopher and mentor. He shows the reader how Augustine’s search for rest and authenticity echoes in the writings of the existentialists such as Heidegger and Camus. Smith weaves together Augustine’s biography and major writings along with the saint’s lesser known letters and sermons to see a man seeking rest in a world of ambition, sex, and stress that is in many ways not unlike our own. Smith never asks us to wade through long discussions of doctrine, but to see a man on a journey home. Smith connects the reader back to our present day with illustrations from his own study of Augustine and frequent references to popular culture ranging from Jay-Z to the Gilmore Girls to Kerouac. Smith’s writing is warm and friendly welcoming the reader into alleys of philosophy or theology with which they may be unfamiliar. Smith’s invitation is to simply journey alongside the African saint and consider his invitation to find our rest in God. Smith is honest about Augustine and his own struggles and faults. He even feels free to disagree and debate Augustine over issues, especially in discussing sexuality. Yet even when he sharply disagrees with Augustine, Smith helps the reader see the humanity and logic behind the saint’s conclusions.
JAPWalton 4 months ago
Jamie Smith’s newest book, “On the Road with Saint Augustine” is an extraordinary treatise on the ageless search for home. In the language of pilgrimage, Smith deftly leads readers to a precipice of understanding that there is an existential blindfold embedded in our psyche that impels us to a self-determined search for identity, meaning, belonging, love, and home. Following his other works, Smith reminds us again of the Augustinian notion that what we love determines the direction of our life. Moreover, that our loves are disordered away from God the Father because we habitually fail in the denial of self. In “On the Road”, Smith wonders if life’s journey isn’t one of prodigality, not of going out, but of coming back home to a waiting and watching Father. We each harbor a deep desire to hear someone say, “welcome home.” Smith contends that we not only look for love in all the wrong places, we also look for home in all the wrong places, which creates an angst that leaves us weary and distracted. Made for a life with God, our deepest sense is one of displacement, of being in exile in a foreign land desperate for an open-armed welcome. Into all this self-induced chaos, Augustine’s words float down through the centuries to guide us home, with a wisdom carved out of a repentance forged in rebellion. Smith shows us Augustine’s map. Its waypoints include our wrong-headed desire to escape our own circumstances, to chase after ambition without godly aspiration, to indifferently deny others refuge and justice, and to create our own “good” through a grim self-determination that shuns God-given boundaries. If you feel like your life is going nowhere, you want to read this book. If you are tired of trying but failing, you want to read this book. If you have an unformed notion of what it means to die, you want to read this book. And if all your looking for home has you feeling lost, then, by all means, read this book. It is a jewel of timeless wisdom that will, finally, set you free and turn your face toward home.