Because life is a series of edits

Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith (3)

In Thought on July 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

DTK cover

Quotes from chapter three, "Lovers in a Dangerous Time":

"One of the most important aspects of this theology of culture is first a moment of recognition: recognizing cultural practices and rituals as lituries. We need to recognize that these practices are not neutral or benign, but rather intnetionally loaded to form us into certain kinds of people – to unwittingly make us disciples of rival kings and patriotic citizens of rival kingdoms." (p. 90)

"The point of apocalyptic literature is not prediction but unmasking – unveiling the realities around us for what they really are…What we need, then, is a kind of contemporary apocalyptic – a language and a genre that sees through the spin and unveils for us the religious and idolatrous character of the contemporary institutions that constitute our own milieu." (p. 92)

"The rituals associated with secular liturgies constitute a pedagogy, a training of our hearts and loves; because education is a mode of formation, the formation that results from immersion in secular liturgies is its own education of desire…These are not just neutral and benign 'things we do'; they are formative liturgies, pedagogies of desire that function as veritable educations of our imagination. Thus, as we've emphasized, education is not confined to the classroom, nor is worship confined to the church." (p. 94)

"One might say that marketing is the mall's evangelism; television commercials, billboards, Internet pop-ups, and magazine advertisements are the mall's outreach…The mall holds out consumption as redemption…To shop is to seek and to find." (pgs. 95, 99)

"Unfortunately, the Christian response to the liturgies of consumerism is often woefully inadequate, even a sort of parody of the mall. Rather than properly countering the liturgy of consumption, the church ends up mimicking it, merely substituting Christian commodities – 'Jesusfied' versions of worldly products, which are acquired, accumulated, and disposed of to make room for the new and the novel. This happens, I think, mainly because we fail to see the practices of consumption as liturgies." (p. 103)

"Nationalistic and patriotic rituals are intended to make us into certain kinds of people – good, loyal, productive citizens who, when called upon, are willing to make 'the ultimate sacrifice' for the good of the nation…Over time, these rituals have a cumulative, albeit cover, effect on our imaginary. And together, these constitute liturgies of ultimate concern: the ideal of national unity and commitment to its ideals is willing to make room for additional loyalties, but it is not willing to entertain trumping loyalties." (pgs. 104, 106-107)

"Many Christians experience no tension between the gospel according to America and the gospel of Jesus Christ because, subtly and unwittingly, the liturgies of American nationalism have so significantly shaped our imagination that they have, in many ways, trumped other liturgies. Thus we now see and hear and read the gospel through the liturgical lenses of the 'American gospel.'" (p. 107)

"Given that we are liturgical animals who are deeply shaped by practices, I'm suggesting that a lot can happen when one just goes through the motions." (p. 109)

"Everyone, it's pointed out, starts from some ultimate commitments that shape what they consider to be 'rational.' So in this sense, the scholar and the university can't help but be religious; or, in other words, there is no such things as the secular…Thus the Cathedral of Learning represents the nature and limits of secularization at the univeristy: while on the one hand it seeks to shut out reference to the divine, it nonetheless lives off the borrowed capital of religious aspiration." (p. 112-113)

"There are two sets of questions that we can bring to the university: 1) What telos does it 'glorify'? What way of life or vision of the good life does it foster? What does the university want us to love? 2) What are the rituals and practices that constitute the secular liturgy of the university?" (p. 114)

"Taken together, all of these facets of the university build up a generally frenetic and frantic pace, rhythms of expenditure and exhaustion, with little room for sabbath. This, too, turns out to be excellent formative preparation for the 'real world' of corporate ladder climbing and white-collar overtime needed in order to secure the cottage, the boat, and the private education for the kids. In short, while the official story tells us that it's what we're learning in the classroom that will prepare us to be productive members of society, it is actually the rituals of the university outside the classroom that might constitute the most formative aspect of our education." (p. 117)

"Secular liturgies don't create our desire; they point it, aim it, direct it to certain ends…Christian witness to culture can affirm that even these secular liturgies, with their misdirected desires, are a witness to the desire for God; the misdirections are a sign of a perduring structure that we can build upon." (p. 122)


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