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St. Norbert College Dean for Humanities Publishes New Book

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From St. Norbert College, October 5, 2020
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, 920-362-8864

Jennifer Hockenbery, divisional dean for humanities at St. Norbert College, has published “Wisdom’s Friendly Heart: Augustinian Hope for Skeptics and Conspiracy Theorists” (Nov. 2020-Cascade Books).

Augustine, 1,600 years ago, begged his African congregants to think, to pay attention to evidence and to talk to their neighbors. Augustine, the theologian, preacher and bishop also was an evangelist for philosophy " for the pursuit of truth, generally, and for the public conversations that he thought were necessary for human beings to live well.

Importantly, Augustine was not naïve: He knew human error was more common than human knowledge. He had been a member of an elitist cult for nearly 10 years and then had spent several years as a skeptic resigned to seeking wealth and honors rather than truth or goodness. He would not be surprised by the rise of white supremacist cults in the United States today or the nihilistic apathy that has arisen in the “post-truth” era. He watched the rise of sects who pandered to nativism, to elitism, to fear and to doubt. He witnessed a crisis of hope that truth could be found, a crisis that led to the use of physical force rather than educated disputation and ended in the fall of both Rome and Carthage to Vandals and Visigoths.

His response to this crisis was to preach the hope that had saved him in his own personal quest for a happy life. His hope was based on his trust that while no individual human being can construct or discover truth on her own, wisdom is seeking with a friendly heart each and every human person. Truth is not beyond the grasp of human community, but is in relationship with people, which is revealed in small moments of understanding that are part of human everyday experience.

This book introduces and evangelizes for Augustinian hope so that readers might be inspired to engage earnestly in inquiry, dialogue and debate about the nature of themselves, their world and the possibility of a happy life.

For more information, go to the publisher’s description page at https://wipfandstock.com/wisdom-s-friendly-heart.html.

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