Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works

Overview

A Liturgical Theology of Culture

"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 ...
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Imagining the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): How Worship Works

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Overview

A Liturgical Theology of Culture

"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

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the second of three volumes on a theology of culture, Smith (Desiring the Kingdom) urges churches to move beyond pursuing liturgy as a means to an end and instead to understand the embodied aspects of worship—kneeling, standing, singing, the repetition of creeds—as ends in themselves. Through liturgical practices, worshippers develop habits that turn them toward enacting God’s shalom kingdom in the world. Arguing that we are guided primarily by imagination, which is primed through the conduit of the body, Smith maintains that the structure of church liturgies matter deeply in providing a counterweight to the liturgies of self-centeredness promoted in the larger culture. Churches that rely too heavily on word alone, or which conform to a mall-culture ethos, threaten to deny people the holistic formation a classic church liturgy provides. Smith uses literature, poetry, philosophy, and film to make a compelling case that it would behoove churches and seminaries to attend more closely to imagination and aesthetics rather than doctrine as central to developing an other-oriented Christian desire. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The second of a projected three volumes on Christian worship by Smith (philosophy, Calvin Coll.; Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation), this book focuses on the process through which liturgy, or scripted group participation in action, transforms its participants in both spiritual and secular contexts—making a difference in the way worshipers feel, think, and act in relationship to self, others, God, or a secular goal. Following philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Smith emphasizes the role of performance through body, perception, story, and imaginative participation in shaping both secular and Christian worldviews. He vivifies his discussion by analyzing contemporary literature, film, and human creativity as catalysts for worldview transformation. Good liturgy, says Smith, embodies habits of expression including bodily expression. Liturgies must not be simply the spouting of doctrine. Smith addresses both academic and more popular concerns in relation to his broader definition of liturgy. VERDICT An important book that may have wide appeal among serious readers in relation to secular education as well as Christian transformation.—Carolyn Craft, Emerita, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801035784
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/15/2013
  • Series: Cultural Liturgies
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 351,588
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet 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. Smith is the author or editor of many books, including the Christianity Today Book Award winners Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? and Desiring the Kingdom, and is editor of the well-received The Church and Postmodern Culture series (www.churchandpomo.org).
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Table of Contents

Contents

How to Read This Book
For Practitioners
For Scholars
Introduction: A Sentimental Education: On Christian Action
The End of Christian Education and/as the End of Worship
Situating Intellect: Educating for Action
Imagining the Kingdom
Part 1: Incarnate Significance: The Body as Background
1. Erotic Comprehension
Perceiving (by) Stories
The Geography of Desire: Between Instinct and Intellect
My Body, My Horizon
Being-in-the-World with Schneider: A Case Study
Erotic Comprehension: On Sex, Stories, and Silence
The Primacy of Perception
2. The Social Body
The Critique of Theoretical Reason
Habitus as Practical Sense
Belief and the Body: The Logic of Practice
Incorporation and Initiation: Writing on the Body
Part 2: Sanctified Perception
3. "We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live": How Worship Works
Imaginative, Narrative Animals
The Primacy of Metaphor and the Aesthetics of Human Understanding
A General Poetics: Imagination, Metaphor, Narrative
The iPhone-ization of Our World(view): Compressed Stories and Micropractices
4. Restor(y)ing the World: Christian Formation for Mission
Sanctifying Perception: Re-Narration Takes Practice
Redeeming Ritual: Form Matters
Redeeming Repetition: On Habituation
Redeeming Reflection: On Liturgical Catechesis and Christian Education
Indexes

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