Desiring the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation

Desiring the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation

by James K. A. Smith

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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

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781441211262
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2009
Series: Cultural Liturgies
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 678,857
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of congregational and ministry studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 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 (

Table of Contents


Introduction: Beyond "Perspectives": Faith and Learning Take Practice

Making the Familiar Strange: A Phenomenology of Cultural Liturgies

The End of Christian Education: From Worldview to Worship (and Back Again)

Picturing Education as Formation in Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier

Elements of a Theology of Culture: Pedagogy, Liturgy, and the Church

Part I: Desiring, Imaginative Animals: We Are What We Love

1. Homo Liturgicus: The Human Person as Lover

From Thinking Things to Liturgical Animals

From Worldviews to Social Imaginaries

From Spheres to Aims: Liturgical Institutions

2: Love Takes Practice: Liturgy, Formation, and Counterformation

Why Victoria's In on the Secret: Picturing Discipleship at the Moulin Rouge

"Thick" and "Thin" Practices: Ritual Forces of Cultural Formation

Formation, Mis-Formation, and Counter-Formation: Liturgies Secular and Christian

3. Lovers in a Dangerous Time: Cultural Exegesis of "Secular" Liturgies

"Reading" Culture Through the Lens of Worship

Consuming Transcendence: Worship at the Mall

Marketing (as) Evangelism

Picturing the Liturgy of Consumerism in The Persuaders

Sacrificial Violence: The "Military-Entertainment" Complex

Cathedrals of Learning: Liturgies of the University

Picturing the University's Liturgies in Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons

Apologetic Excursus: The Persisting Witness of Idolatry

Picturing Resistance in 1984

Part II: Desiring the Kingdom: The Practiced Shape of the Christian Life

4. From Worship to Worldview: Christian Worship and the Formation of Desire

The Primacy of Worship to Worldview

The Sacramental Imagination: Resisting Naturalism and Supernaturalism

Picturing the Sacramental Imagination in Graham Greene and Anne Sexton

Excursus: The Shape of Christian Worship

5. Practicing (for) the Kingdom: An Exegesis of the Social Imaginary Embedded in Christian Worship

Liturgical Time: Rhythms and Cadences of Hope

Call to Worship: An Invitation to Be Human

God's Greeting: Hospitality, Community, and Graced Dependence

Baptism: Initiation into a Royal Priesthood/Constitution of a New People

Song: Hymning the Language of the Kingdom

Confession: Brokenness, Grace, Hope

Law: Order, Norms, and Freedom for the Good

The Creed: Situating Belief

Prayer: Vocalizing Desire

Scripture and Sermon: Re-narrating the World

Eucharist: Supper with the King

Offering: Kingdom Economics

Sending: The Great Commission as Cultural Mandate

Worship, Discipleship and Discipline: Practices Beyond Sunday

6. A Christian University is for Lovers: The Education of Desire

A New Monasticism for the University: Why Christian Colleges Should Corrupt the Youth

Christian Education Takes Practice: Three Monastic Opportunities

Excursus: Christian Worship as Faculty Development: From Christian Scholars to "Ecclesial" Scholars


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