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Augustine: A Mother's Son - Dolina MacCuish

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Genre: Biography / Author: Dolina MacCuish / Mass Market Paperback / 160 Pages / Book is published 2005-09-01 by Christian Focus Publications

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      09.03.2011 22:02
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      A recommended read

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      From Birth - Intro
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      Augustine: A mother's son is a very human portrait of Augustine of Hippo. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo and lived from 354-430 and generally considered to be the greatest thinker of the early church. He was the intellectual face of North African Christianity and faced down threats from the Donatist, the Pelagians and other ideas of the time.

      He wrote copious amounts of letters and books culminating in the majestic City of God which was a response to the sack of Rome by the Vandals. Overseeing this monumentous event Augustine demonstrated that this was not the end of civilisation as we know it.

      Similarly he verbalised the concepts of original sin and the absolute sovereignty (rule) of God over all things, beliefs which the early church had not fully developed by this stage.

      His towering intellect makes him still readable and still useful today as a thinker who took the early church deeper into the truths with which it was beginning to grapple.

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      Mother of the book - The Author
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      I know little about Dolina MacCuish except that she wrote this in 1999 and has also written a similair style book about Martin Luther and his wife Katie.

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      Developed parts - The Book
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      The book is brief; 18 chapters spread over 150pages. But what it lacks in length it makes up for in its sheer humanity. Many have written books on Augustine which have considered the progression of his thought or over-analysed and made much of his remarkably honest biography, 'The Confessions'.

      This is not MacCuish's intention. She gives a very personal portrait which considers his mother's influence on him. It was her who impacted him most with her Christian faith, although he more than dabbled with fashionable philosophy of his day. MacCuish's storytelling ability covers mother Monica's raising of Augustine in North Africa and her tears and prayers for him as he grew and moved away as Professor of Rhetoric in Milan.

      This was where Augustine comes under the influence of the great Christian preacher of the day Ambrose, and he was impressed. But life was not smooth for Augustine and Monica never gave up on him but chased him there.

      From there she traces the ups and downs of Augustine's life and the battles he faces. But the focus post-Monica is still on her influence on him. As the back cover says, 'If it wasn't for the faithful witness of his mother, Monica, Augustine may have remained a clever-tongued middle-class playboy rather than a giant of church history.'

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      A Life Considered - Assessment
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      MacCuish tells the story in an engaging and exciting fashion. The effect of dealing with the very identifiable events of Augustine's life and struggles bring the story to life in a way which I wasn't expecting. This is not a dull and dry biography. It doesn't have the length to for a start, but were it longer it would not bore.

      MacCuish doesn't get into arguments about him, she simply presents Augustine as she finds him, neither dwelling on his playboy lifestyle or any effect that may have had on his psyche, nor ignoring it as if it were not there.

      I very much enjoyed this book as you can probably tell and will look out for her book on Martin Luther.

      Recommended.

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