"A lively study of how contemporary rituals, practices, and habits form character in ways that are not consistent with the things of God. . . . This is amazingly good, extraordinary stuff, a major contribution to cultural studies ([Smith's] interaction with Charles Taylor is very helpful), clarifying what we mean by worldviews, and how a Christian way of life can be sustained by our worshiping communities. A must-read for serious thinkers in our day."--Byron Borger, heartsandmindsbooks.com
Philosopher James K. A. Smith reshapes the very project of Christian education in Desiring the Kingdom. This text is the first of three volumes that will ultimately provide a comprehensive theology of culture. The entire set will address crucial concerns in ontology, anthropology, epistemology, and political philosophy. Desiring the Kingdom focuses education around the themes of liturgy, formation, and desire. The author contends--as did Augustine--that human beings are "desiring agents"; in other words, we are what we love. Postmodern culture, far from being "secular," is saturated with liturgy, but in places such as malls, stadiums, and universities. While these structures influence us, they do not point us to the best of ends. Smith aims to move beyond a focus on "worldview" to see Christian education as a counter-formation to these secular liturgies. His 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, Smith re-visions Christian worship as a pedagogical practice that trains our love. Desiring the Kingdom will reach a wide audience; professors and students in courses on theology, culture, philosophy, and worldview will welcome this contribution. Pastors, ministers, worship leaders, and other church leaders will appreciate this book as well.
"The prolific Smith is a polymath who has emerged over the past decade as a force in the world of religious studies, with a reach extending well beyond. . . . From the very fountainhead of the Dutch Calvinist stream, Smith intends to disrupt what has become business as usual and push the evangelical academy hard on its fundamental sense of identity. . . . Driving the book . . . is Smith's careful, charged case for intersecting practices, liturgies, and worship in the lives of all humans, whether they realize it or not. . . . To read Smith is to get a primer on contemporary theology and philosophy, though he's not a popularizer so much as an able, agile public scholar who collects and redirects. He sees his work as 'an attempt to articulate the Reformed tradition as an Augustinian renewal movement within the church catholic,' an admirable and altogether necessary way of conceiving of ecclesial differences in our atomizing age. . . . It adds up to a compelling case. Worldview-espousing administrators and faculty--and all who find themselves captive to the wrong loves--owe it to their progeny, not to say their Lord, to give Smith's sharp critique and holy vision a careful look."--Eric Miller, Christianity Today
"One of the truly significant books of the year. . . . In this deeply philosophical study, [Smith] invites us to ask how to relate worship, life, and a radically Christian way of life. . . . Can universities help us become Godly dreamers? A huge, huge question, and this is a book worth working on for a long school year. Highly recommended"--Byron Borger, heartsandmindsbooks.com