- Series: Cultural Liturgies (Book 1)
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Baker Academic; unknown edition (August 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801035775
- ISBN-13: 978-0801035777
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Cultural Liturgies) unknown Edition
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From the Back Cover
A Philosophical Theology of Culture
Philosopher James K. A. Smith reshapes the very project of Christian education in Desiring the Kingdom. The first of three volumes that will ultimately provide a comprehensive theology of culture, Desiring the Kingdom focuses education around the themes of liturgy, formation, and desire. Smith's ultimate purpose is to re-vision Christian education as a formative process that redirects our desire toward God's kingdom and its vision of flourishing. In the same way, he re-visions Christian worship as a pedagogical practice that trains our love.
"James Smith shows in clear, simple, and passionate prose what worship has to do with formation and what both have to do with education. He argues that the God-directed, embodied love that worship gives us is central to all three areas and that those concerned as Christians with teaching and learning need to pay attention, first and last, to the ordering of love. This is an important book and one whose audience should be much broader than the merely scholarly."--Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School
"In lucid and lively prose, Jamie Smith reaches back past Calvin to Augustine, crafting a new and insightful Reformed vision for higher education that focuses on the fundamental desires of the human heart rather than on worldviews. Smith deftly describes the 'liturgies' of contemporary life that are played out in churches--but also in shopping malls, sports arenas, and the ad industry--and then re-imagines the Christian university as a place where students learn to properly love the world and not just think about it."--Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Messiah College; authors of Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation
"This is a wise, provocative, and inspiring book. It prophetically blurs the boundaries between theory and practice, between theology and other disciplines, between descriptive analysis and constructive imagination. Anyone involved in Christian education should read this book to glimpse a holistic vision of learning and formation. Anyone involved in the worship life of Christian communities should read this book to discover again all that is at stake in the choices we make about our practices."--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary
About the Author
James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition, he is editor of Comment magazine and a senior fellow of the Colossian Forum. He has penned the critically acclaimed Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? and Introducing Radical Orthodoxy, and his edited books include After Modernity? and Hermeneutics at the Crossroads. Smith is the editor of the well-received Church and Postmodern Culture series (www.churchandpomo.org).
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Before reading the book, I was already in alignment with many of Smith presuppositions about God, humanity and the created world. His understanding of the relationship between the physical and spiritual, the sacred and the secular, and Christ and culture are similar to my own, since we both come from the same strand of Reformed theology and have been influence by many of the same thinkers and practitioners. So I found much to agree with here. I appreciated Smith's dialogue with film and fiction throughout the book. I was challenged to examine some of the myopic practices of my own tradition and my own kingdom, for that matter. I was called to become more catholic and charitable in my worship.
The book's format could have been improved with shorter chapters, complemented by discussion questions. The book invites a communal theology of worship/life and therefore should lend itself to being digested in a communal setting. Perhaps this shortfall could be addressed in a future edition. This criticism nothwithstanding, I found Smith's argument to be well thought out and coherent as well as challenging and inspiring. Any worshiper who seeks to deepen their theology and practice of worship (i.e. life) would do well to consider what Smith has to say here.
Smith says, “[The] gospel[’s . . . ] power is beauty, which speaks to our deepest desires and compels us to come not with dire moralisms but rather with a winsome invitation to share in this envisioned good life” (21). Discipleship as Smith envisions it targets the heart first, our affections; it is “the education of desire” (23). While this approach seems fresh in our current context, it is not novel in the history of the Church.
Consider God’s first act of redemption. Israel is enslaved in Egypt. They are broken and defeated. God enters their life and decisively acts for them. Only after he acts, after he has arrested their affection does he give the law. And even when the law is given, he starts with love (Deut. 6:1-12). God first makes disciples by educating Israel’s affections.
Smith says, “Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting the right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behavior; rather, it’s a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly—who loves God” (32).
When Jesus arrives, he does the same thing. He tends to the affections of his sheep. He heals, feeds, raises—and ultimately dies and rise again. Nothing grabs for the heart like a sacrificial death. “God so loved the world he sent his son” (Jn. 3:16).
The next large point Smith makes has to do with the liturgies all around us. “If many configurations of cultural practices function as quasi-liturgies, as formative pedagogies of desire that are trying to make us a certain kind of person, we need to ask ourselves: Is there a place that could form us otherwise—a space of counter-formation?” (24). The rest of the book is spent developing these ideas. Smith points out the liturgies all around us and how they create certain types of people. He also points out that the church has often combated the affection grabbing liturgies of our culture with rational arguments—whereas we should combat them the kind of affection grabbing discipleship demonstrated in Scripture.
Desiring the Kingdom is the rare book that engages the reader and provides a fresh take on a crucial topic. We are at a cultural four way stop. The church will continue down its current path, especially with how it engages culture, or it will turn. Smith shows conclusively we must turn and in doing so we will find we have returned to the ancient practices of the Church and to the God who discipled us by sending his Son, by loving us.