Because life is a series of edits

Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith (Intro)

In Books on June 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

DTK cover

Our Veritas staff summer reading is Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith, a wonderful look at what true Christian education should be. There are introductions to books, and then there are Introductions to books. As I process through this one chapter by chapter, I thought I'd pull some quotables:

"What is education for? And more specifically, what is at stake in a distinctly Christian education? What does the qualifier Christian mean when appended to education? It is usually understood that education is about ideas and information (though it is also too often routinely reduced to credentialing for a career and viewed as a ticket to a job)." (p. 17)

"What if education, including higher education, is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires?…What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions – our visions of 'the good life' – and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs to our thinking? What if the primary work of education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect? And what if this had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds?" (p. 18)

"What if education wasn't first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love?" (p. 18)

"If education is about formation, then we need to be attentive to all the formative work that is happening outside the university: in homes and at the mall; in football stadiums and at Fourth of July parades; in worship and at work." (p. 19)

"The core claim of this book is that liturgies – whether 'sacred' or 'secular' – shape and constitute our identities by forming our most fundamental desires and our most basic attunement to the world. In short, liturgies make us certain kinds of people, and what defines us is what we love." (P. 25)

"An education, then, is a contellation of practices, rituals, and routines that inculcates a particular vision of the good life by inscribing or infusing that vision into the heart (the gut) by means of material, embodied practices…There is no neutral, nonformative education; in short, there is no such thing as a 'secular' education." (p. 26)

"Could we offer a Christian education that is loaded with all sorts of Christian ideas and information – and yet be offering a formation that runs counter to that vision?" (p. 31)

"The end of Christian education has been seen to be the dissemination and communication of Christian ideas rather than the formation of a peculiar people." (p. 31)

"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 and neighbor and is oriented to the world by the primacy of that love." (p. 33)

"An important part of revisioning Christian education is to see it as a made of counter-formation." (p. 33)

"While Hollister and Starbucks have taken hold of our heart with tangible, material liturgies, Christian schools are 'fighting back' by giving young people Christian ideas…Christian education as formation needs to be a pedagogy of desire." (p. 33)

"The primary goal of Christian education is the formation of a peculiar people – a people who desire the kingdom of God and thus undertake their vocation as an expression of that desire." (p. 34)

My instincts as to what we are to be doing (and why) at Veritas find much affirmation in Smith's writing. Looking forward to chapter 2…

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  1. I love this book.

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