Episode 26: St. Augustine and the Index of Self-Destructive Acts

In this episode, I talk with philosopher Jamie Smith (Calvin College) about St. Augustine and Christopher Beha’s latest novel, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts. Our conversation covers the surprising connections between St. Augustine and the existentialists–most especially Albert Camus–and how St. Augustine can help us understand the gap between what we long for and the finite world that we are situated in.

As always, I hope you enjoy our conversation.

James K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College where he holds the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview. The award-winning author of Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? and Desiring the Kingdom, his most recent books include Imagining the Kingdom (2013), Discipleship in the Present Tense (2013), Who’s Afraid of Relativism? (2014), and How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (2014), You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (2016). The author of a number of influential books, Smith also regularly writes for magazines and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Slate, First Things, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, and The Hedgehog Review. He serves as editor-in-chief of Image journal.

Jennifer A. Frey is associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyShe lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and a bunch of chickens.

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Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and edited by William Deatherage.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

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