Volume 18, Issue 2, Summer 2021
“Habits of the Flesh” and the Call to Conversion
How Augustinian Ecology Can Illuminate Justice in the World
In this essay, the author “scrutiniz[es] the ‘signs of the times’ and seek[s] to detect the meaning of emerging history” to explore the call to conversion issued by the 1971 Synod of Bishops in Justice in the World (JW). In that document, they condemn oppressive systems of domination that hinder authentic human development and urge people toward conversion of the Spirit, which “frees [them] from personal sin and from its consequences in social life.” To determine what it is that people are to convert from, this essay builds on an evolutionary framework—developed through Augustine’s ecology and contemporary scientific theory—and explores how this framework can help limit the pursuit of domination in favor of promoting a more integrated and just world. Doing so contributes to the dialogue concerning how Christians can “work out their salvation by deeds of justice,” in light of the prescient framework delivered in JW.