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Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works (Cultural Liturgies) Paperback – February 15, 2013
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From the Back Cover
"Imagining the Kingdom is a fit successor to Jamie Smith's remarkable Desiring the Kingdom. The new book is, like its predecessor, learned but lively, provocative but warmhearted, a manifesto and a guide. Smith takes Christians deeper into the artistic, imaginative, and practical resources on which we must draw if we wish to renew not only our minds but also our whole beings in Christ."
--Alan Jacobs, Honors College of Baylor University
"In this wonderfully rich and engagingly readable book of 'liturgical anthropology,' Smith makes a persuasive case for the thesis that human beings are best understood as worshiping animals. It has important implications at once for practical theology's reflection on religious formation, liturgy, and pedagogy and for philosophical theorizing about just what religion is. And it develops as an engaging and lively conversation among an astonishing mix of people: imagine Calvin, Proust, Merleau-Ponty, Augustine, Wendell Berry, Bourdieu, and David Foster Wallace all in the same room really talking to each other about being human and how to think about it!"
--David Kelsey, Yale Divinity School
"Jamie Smith shows us that the gospel does not primarily happen between our ears but in all the movements of the body by which we are formed and in turn form the world. I know of no more thorough and sophisticated account of how secular liturgies form and deform us and how Christian liturgies can help. Though sophisticated, Smith's book is also a delight. Its pages are filled with great poetry and insights from films, novels, and everyday life."
--William T. Cavanaugh, DePaul University
"A thought-provoking, generative reflection on the imagination-shaping power of Christian worship practices. What an ideal book for crossing boundaries among academic disciplines and between the academy and the church."
--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College, and Calvin Theological Seminary
"It is heartening to set one's eyes on Jamie Smith's bold and creative endeavor to awaken Christians, Protestants in particular, to the centrality of worship in even, nay especially, our moral lives. This thoughtful book is rightly concerned with a restoration of the Christian imagination rooted in habits of virtue."
--Vigen Guroian, University of Virginia
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Smith's underlying argument is that human beings are feeling, emotional, affective beings, shaped and molded by our actions and arts. He pushes against the dominant intellectualist, "world view" approach to the Christian life that says our doctrines and knowledge are the bedrock on which faithful Christian life exists or from which action inevitably flows. In this second volume of a planned three volume set, Smith focuses on the practices of worship, and how worship serves (or should serve) as a set of, context for, and arrangement of practices that orient us as individuals and communities towards loving, serving and knowing God.
As a cultural anthropologist teaching at a Christian college, these have been the waters in which I have been swimming for a long time, and I am profoundly grateful for a text that makes this point so wonderfully. I am particularly appreciative of Smith's extensive use of the work of Pierre Bourdieu, an anthropologist and social theorist I have also found enormously helpful in my own research and teaching on Christian life.Read more ›
In this book, Smith looks specifically at what that insight means for the practices of worship and Christian education. The book comes in two parts. In part 1, the theoretical part of the book, Smith walks the reader through expositions of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Pierre Bourdieu, asking what their theoretical models of how we are formed might mean for how we worship. In part 2, the practical part, Smith talks explicitly about how the theory discussed in part 1 reframes Christian formation and gives a fresh understanding of how worship works.Read more ›
If I could give it 3.5 stars, that's about where I'd put it. This book was much harder slogging than "Desiring the Kingdom". Far too much of the book was spent laying groundwork through explicating the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Pierre Bourdieu and their theoretical models of habituation and formation. In the preface, Smith notes that he had intended volumes 2 and 3 of this Cultural Liturgies series to be scholarly monographs, but due to the cross-over popularity of the first volume with pastors and educators, he had decided to broaden this appeal of this volume as well. Sadly, I don't think that he accomplished that.
The last part of this book is certainly brilliant and ties in well with the first book. Individuals not well versed in Merleau-Ponty, Bourdieu, and modern French philosophy may have a hard time getting to the last part of the book. I know I did.
I had hoped to find more material that I could translate pastorally and practically. I will certainly draw upon ideas in part 2 for inspiration in that regard.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Far less helpful than Desiring the Kingdom, this book is thick with jargon. One gets the impression Smith is just trying to trot out his academic bona fides, as he defends his... Read morePublished 10 months ago by jfn2015
I think it took a whole lot of words to say that being sentimental is important. I'm really looking for the next book in the series.Published 10 months ago by John Jelinek IV
Once again Smith offers a great challenge to alter our Christian formation from right thinking to right doing/being/ loving. A very good read!Published 11 months ago by Jeremy
We all know that worldviews (hereafter w-v) are inescapable. Worldviews rarely move beyond the intellectual dimension. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jacob
“When we worship on Sunday, it spills over into our cultural labor on Monday” (3).
Imaging the Kingdom is volume two of James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies series. Read more
A great argument for the necessity of liturgical practices within worship. My only wish was to see more attention to how particular practices contribute to formation, and what... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Kelly
Complex and deep at times, but overall, a very thorough treatment as to the nuances of understanding the relationship of our physical, mental, spiritual capacities and how all of... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Randy Schmor
If church and Christian education are about preparing and sending Christians to remake the world in cooperation with God, how do they do that? Read morePublished on May 4, 2014 by Darren Cronshaw