Writing from Copper Harbor, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I am, literally, on the road! I will post soon about this trip, promise. But, today, on wifi spirited from the Welcome Center parking lot, I want to share the book review I just finished on my friend James K.A. Smith’s newest book, On The Road with Saint Augustine, out today. I hope you will consider reading it, it’s a gem!
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.