James K. A. Smith interviewed live in the Box Canyon at Laity Lodge, July 18, 2015.
Full story: theboxcanyon.org/essays/augustine-redux/
"I think one of the reasons I'm so drawn to Augustine is because he diagnoses this unrest, this struggle, this interior wrestling. It's something, if I'm honest, works on a couple of levels for me. Sometimes the most comfortable is to identify the exterior struggles.
As a Canadian who's moved to the United States, and lives in what has been recently described as one of the most segregated cities of the north. The reality that the way the races live together in a city is not the way it's supposed to be. You're living into this, and you don't even know how to speak to it. The injustices of that.
Augustine, I think, also gave me permission to own more interior struggles about fatherhood. I was abandoned by my father when I was 11 years old. I think it's one of the reasons why Augustine's gravitation towards the parable of the prodigal son is really about the compassionate father who meets him at the end of the road and has been waiting there. I think I've spent my whole life looking for that father who's waiting at the end of the road and is coming to find me. That hasn't happened on an earthly level, and probably will never happen on an earthly level.
I think I'm starting to make the connection between head and heart. I know I've been found by a heavenly father. What I'm living into now is this tension between intellectual convictions and what I actually live out at this imaginative level. Which is I think a lot of space where Christians live, is this gap between what we doctrinally know and what we incoherently understand about ourselves.
Augustine, the main thing, as a thinker, he is somebody who gets this incohernt understanding part of who we are. One of the tensions I keep trying to work on is closing that gap between intellectual conviction and a lived into story that matches it."