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Saint From Hippo

How Augustine’s dilemmas shaped modern Christianity.

May 3, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 31 • By EDWARD SHORT
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Is it really possible that “twentieth-century man” had an “exalted estimate of sex” because of his “intimate affinity with the animal kingdom?” This puzzling thesis notwithstanding, Chadwick’s biography is a rewarding read. It certainly confirms Augustine’s own sense of the wonder of conversion. In one passage from his writings, Augustine noted how “the daily miracles of creation are as great as those of the incarnate Lord,” and to illustrate his point, as Chadwick says, he pointed to those “miracles of inward moral conversion,” which “are greater than the material miracles once done by Christ himself,” since “now the Lord opens not blind eyes but blind hearts.” 

Only someone convinced equally of original sin and God’s love could see the miraculous in quite those terms.

Edward Short, a writer in New York, is the author of the forthcoming John Henry Newman and his Contemporaries.

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