In Augustine and the Fundamentalist’s Daughter, Margaret Miles weaves her memoirs together with reflections on Augustine’s Confessions. Having read and reread Augustine’s Confessions, in admiration as well as frustration, over the past thirty-five years, Miles brings her memories of childhood and youth in a fundamentalist home into conversation with Augustine’s effort to understand his life. The result is a fascinating work of autobiographical and theological reflection. Moreover, this project brings together a rare combination of insights into fundamentalist convictions and habits of mind, as well as into the differences among fundamentalists. Such reflections are especially urgent in this time in which fundamentalism is prominent in political and social discourse.
1. Disorder and Early Sorrow
2. Learning How to Live
3. Laziness and Inertia
4. Beyond the Pleasure Principle
5. Staying Is Nowhere
6. Mothers and Sons, Mothers and Daughters
7. Relaxing from Myself – a Little
8. Conversion and Conversions
9. Parents or Fellow Pilgrims?
10. The Difficulty of Beautiful Things
11. The One Thing
12. A Sharp Quick Sense of Life
13. The Weight of Love
Endorsements and Reviews
For over thirty years we have read and heard Margaret Miles on Augustine, and her insights on this spectacular ancient have been compelling. Now we read Miles in Augustine’s Confessions, and her self-disclosure is as compelling as Augustine’s. This is a soul-rending book that opens the world of Augustine to the world of a fundamentalist’s daughter. We have known for a long time that scholarly study reflects the life experience of the scholar, but Miles has taken this to both new heights and new depths. This book reveals both Augustine and the world of a fundamentalist, and it is simply stunning in its depth of disclosure and revelation – all what we have come to expect from Augustine and now from Miles.
Richard Valantasis, Canon Theologian for Formation and Education, Diocese of the Rio Grande
Augustine and the Fundamentalist’s Daughter is a revealing, lively, and deeply engrossing conversation among many speakers, from Saint Augustine to modern poets to the multiple voices that age and insight have given Professor Miles on her own journey from fundamentalism to wisdom. In this book, we meet the rich tapestry of life’s defeats, fears, delights, and changes in the vignettes of memories narrated from either Augustine’s new state of restful faith or Margaret Miles’s hard-won place of gracefully honest reflection. Find a quiet room, pull up a chair, and listen to this superb scholar and teacher talk with her longtime mentor, Augustine, about life, love, sex, faith, and family. It is a conversation not to be missed.
Mary Ann Tolbert, George H. Atkinson Professor of Biblical Studies, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley
… an autobiography with a difference.
Church Times, 19 July 2013