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

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,217 ratings  ·  251 reviews
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 L
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Brazos Press (first published 2019)
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Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smith's premise here is exciting; a journey with Augustine through his Confessions to address our modern needs and questions. And for the most part he executes well on that promise. However, he brings a whole lot of other friends (the snobby French philosophical kind that roll their eyes at you because you've never seen that avant-garde film down at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema). And those other friends speak loudly throughout the book and say they are just ruminating with you on what Augustine s ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poignant, personal, and beautiful. The chapters on ambition, sex, fathers, and death (odd combination, I know) made an indelible impression on me as I read.
David Haines
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Smith presents the reader with a beautiful roadmap to some of life's most important and difficult experiences, using Augustine as our guide. He interacts with many important contemporary thinkers, and shows how Augustine not only helps us think about and properly approach life and our living experience of it, but he also shows how Augustine answers many of the existential questions that gave been asked by contemporary thinkers. You don't have to agree on every point to be able to recognize that ...more
Unchong Berkey
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading On the Road with Saint Augustine was like settling in to savor a bite of rich dessert. Throughout the chapters, I felt moved and desirous of lingering over the ways Augustine’s spirituality speaks to our deepest longings. Couple favorite quotes:

“There is delight in the sojourn when we know where home is.”

“Joy is arriving at the home you’ve never been to.”

“Augustine’s refugee spirituality is an account of what the Christian life feels like. The disciple as much as anyone finds herself in
Alex Stroshine
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-living
Beyond the biblical writers, Augustine has arguably shaped Christian theology more than anyone else. His life also serves as an enduring template for Christian conversion and sanctification. In "On the Road with Saint Augustine," James K.A. Smith looks to Augustine to help modern readers work through key themes or values of the human drama, such as freedom, sex, ambition, friendship, and death. Augustine wrestled with these concepts in his own life - from his parents' urging him to ascend to the ...more
Jana Light
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read it in one go on a plane. Apt?! This is a gentle, compassionate walk through how St. Augustine exhorts us to "be" in our journey through life and spirituality. I found it a little trite at times (not Augustine's fault! Probably the genre) and disagreed with some philosophical, theological, and psychological points, but overall I found it motivating, calming, enlightening, and soothing. Impressive considering where I was reading it. (TRAPPED IN A CYLINDER HURTLING 700 MILES PER HOUR OVER A VA ...more
David Steele
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The postmodern prophet and rock star, Bono Vox laments, “I have run I have crawled I have scaled these city wall, these city walls, only to be with you. But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” U2 isn’t the only one tapped into the inner drive and existential angst of the ages. Augustine had them beat by 1,600 years! “Oh Lord, you have created us for yourself but our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

James K.A. Smith is on a similar quest and is eager to share the f
Eileen Mulshine
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my third read of this book, finishing it today on September 17, 2020. This time, two other women joined me for this summer on a weekly bases to discuss one chapter each week. It was so rich with the insights of a retired English professor and a librarian. My only regret is that we reached the end the book. "On The Road With Saint Augustine - A Read-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts"
kept me interested, ruminating some of the depths of Augustine, while reading parts of Augustine's "Co
Clay McBroom
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book was a timely read for me. I am more confident to begin reading Augustine's works because of the way that Smith helps the reader understand who he was. He makes Augustine feel scarily relatable. One of the most impactful portions of the book for me was how Smith illustrates the prodigal son story in light of Augustine’s. I was not expecting to personally benefit from this book as much as I did. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to see how the gospel is the answer, and it alway ...more
Alex Etheridge
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Is it possible for philosophical prose to relax you?  After reading this, I'm shocked that such a thing might just be possible. Reading this book was like sitting in a calm meadow, overlooking a vast and picturesque landscape, being shepherded in truths for the soul. (I'd have said a beach, but beaches stress me out.  They are the opposite of relaxing.  Seriously? How does anyone relax with so much sand and salt flying around?)

James K.A. Smith uses the life and theology of Augustine, specificall
Jenny Wood
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wonderful - so grateful for James K. A. Smith's contextualization of this spiritual father (Saint Augustine) for my generation. I really enjoyed his integration of so many threads: Augustine's biography, age-old philosophical queries, rich and vibrant theology, and relevant cultural references (such as Wes Anderson, Kelly Clarkson and Ta Nehisi-Coates, to name a few). He clearly understands the angst of my generation - mainly because it's not unique to my generation at all.

Though this book was m
Carl Jenkins
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
James K.A. Smith's new book on Augustine is not just helpful, it isn't just needful, it is beautiful, and it is healing. In typical Smithian fashion, we are introduced to some sort of modern and well known story and piece of pop culture and find Kerouac's 'On the Road' to be our starting point. Smith reminds us of the common hunger we all seem to have for The Road, for the journey of life, but how in that we have seemingly forgotten about a destination and find ourselves more focused on the jour ...more
Dan Glover
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the reviewers of this book here mentioned Bono's lyric, "I still haven't found what I'm lookin' for", and that is certainly consistent with the restless heart-longing that Jamie Smith taps into and interprets in the works of existentialist postmodern philosophers and artists, and well before them, St. Augustine. I couldn't help thinking of another U2 lyric: "She's running to stand still." For me, that line pretty much sums up not only our cultural moment but the human condition. We are bu ...more
Nolan Hostetler
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A profound work that in displays the tensions common to us as complex human beings in an imperfect world. I found that James KA Smith, drawing upon the works of Augustine, has put into words of what lays underneath the deep desires of the heart. The work is extraordinarily helpful and relevant in describing so many of the experiences I have had with faith, doubt, and the Christian life as whole.

So many of the works of Augustine, especially his Confessions, reveal the joys and struggles that come
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-living
This is my favorite book of 2020 so far.

James K.A. Smith deftly unpacks Augustine’s hard-won wisdom, making “Confessions” come alive for modern readers. It’s amazing how relevant his ideas remain even in our post-modern culture, as people still struggle to find ultimate meaning in life but cannot shake that nagging feeling of unsettledness.

This book is fantastic and every chapter is a gem. If I haven’t already sent you a copy, go get one.
David Goetz
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Winsome and inviting, often illuminating, sometimes deeply moving. I'll add more later. ...more
Matt Pitts
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

First of all, this is a beautiful book. Not only the cover but the TOC are delightfully designed. Whoever did the design work deserves an award.

Second, I believe in this project. I love Augustine and agree he has much to say to us today, indeed much more than anyone only vaguely aware of him would guess. And James K A Smith is as well positioned as anyone I'm aware of to bring the two together. It reminded me of Rod Dreher's How Dante Saved My Life (which I also thoroughly enjoyed).

Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Any book that starts with Kerouac and ends with a Spotify playlist of music that inspired the book is bound to contain something worth reading in the middle.

If you've never read Augustine, James K.A. Smith's book-length introduction to this 4th century African bishop is a compelling argument for why you should. Western Christian theology, philosophy, and modern secular thought are all shaped by this incredible thinker; his ideas permeate our 21st century lives more than we realize.

Writing for t
Samuel Kassing
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoy Smith's prose. He is an excellent writer and this book doesn't disappoint.

By far my favorite chapters in this volume were on 'Ambition', 'Fatherhood', and 'Death'.

With that being said this book is wonderful in certain places and then average in others. I didn't always know where Smith was taking us. I enjoyed the insights into Augustine's life but I wish Smith would have come down in some more concrete ways through out the book.

Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s hard to imagine a better guide to the journey of life than the man whose greatest works point to the realities that we were created for something far greater than ourselves and that the world we live in is at its best when it points to the eternal world we await.

The first part lays a bit of a philosophical foundation for the second half. I’m not well-versed in the likes of Sartre or Heidegger but Smith isn’t trying to turn this into an academic exercise and his review of these thinkers is c
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality, owned
I read this one slowly and really savored it and I am so glad that I did. Smith makes St. Augustine and his writings so relatable and relevant. I feel a weird kinship with Augustine after reading this and I am looking forward to studying his life further. The philosophy jargon was a bit over my head, but I enjoyed seeing the influence of Augustine's writings on modern thought. The chapters on freedom, ambition, and friendship especially struck me. ...more
Peter Dray
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favourite so far of everything I've read by James K A Smith. Beautifully written, a great introduction to Augustine and a wonderful demonstration of how life with God can satisfy the deepest of human desires. ...more
Bradley Somers
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first time I’ve read any of James K A Smith’s writings. This was an outstanding read. Definitely the read of my year. So refreshing, honest and clear. If you’re journeying in hopes of connecting your everyday life to the larger reasons for living, you will be drawn in by both James and Augustine. If you are already further along on the journey of faith James uses Augustine as a tuning fork. Sounding out the clear note of faith beyond simply faith in self. Definitely a book to reread ...more
Michael Hands
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I enjoyed this book, some stages it meanders much the same way I suspect journeying on a pilgrimage would as well - but it is food for the soul and formative for the heart. Smith yet again provides deep food for thought and fuel for discipleship in the way of Christ.
Lee Wright
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So great! I recommend to any person in our modern world who is angsty and struggles to know their ultimate purpose. Smith draws in some great illustrations in movies, TV and literature. It’s a must-read!
Andrew Willis
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
So many good nuggets. Plan on rereading soon.
Jordan J. Andlovec
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been waiting years for a book to come along that I could give to my friends who share, like many of us, Augustine's journey. The Confessions are beautiful and striking, but they aren't what I would call "popular level" reading, and I'm thankful that Jamie Smith did the work of taking us on this journey. ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is a great blend of philosophical, theological, and pastoral concerns that converse with each other so well. This would make for great reading in a class on the spiritual life, and could make for a great supplement to a reading of Augustine’s own work. There are chapters that are readily accessible and others which might be challenging to those who haven’t engaged a lot of philosophy yet. Even if there are more technical conversations that may be intimidating at first glance, I would encou ...more
Dale Muckerman
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I have read another book by James K. A. Smith which was quite good, but this book was disappointed me. I read Augustine's Confessions several years ago, and found it a fascinating book by a great thinker. I don't think Smith captures the genius of Augustine very well at all. There are some moments of inspiration, but too often Smith gets caught up in his own storytelling. At times Smith seemed like some youth minister trying to show how "with it" he is by referencing popular culture, existential ...more
Will Barbour
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Grace isn’t high-speed transport all the way to the end but the gift of his presence the rest of the way.” (p.222) Loved this thematic, personal, artistic exploration of themes and yearnings we can all relate to: from fatherhood to sex. I anticipate I’ll be looking back at it for quotes and illustrations. I’m impressed how well read and widely read Smith is! I didn’t understand all the allusions but appreciated most of them.
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