Because life is a series of edits

Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith (5)

In Books, Pedagogy on July 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

DTK cover

Quotes from chapter five, "Practicing (for) the Kingdom":

"If we read the practices of Christian worship, we would conclude that Christians are a people whose year doesn't simply map onto the calendar of the dominant culture…The church is not a people gathered by abstract ideas or teachings or ideasl; it is a people gathered to the historical person Jesus Christ." (p. 156-157)

"As a messianic people, the church is a people who inhabit the present with a ceretain lightness of being…Resisting a presentism that can only imagine 'living for the moment,' the church is a people with a deeply ingrained orientation to the future, a habit we learn from Israel…We go through the ritual of desiring the kingdom – a kind of holy impatience – by reenacting Israel's longing for the coming of the King…We are a futural people who will not seek to escape the present, but will always sit somewhat uneasy in the present, haunted by the brokenness of the 'now.'" (p. 156-158)

"At the same time, the rhytms of Christian worship and the liturgical year stretch us backward. They are practices of remembering – another habit we learn from Israel…We are constituted as a people who live between times, remembering and hoping at the same time. Each week this between-ness is performed in the Eucharist, which both invites us to 'Do this in rememberance of me' and by doing so to 'proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.'" (p. 158)

"The thrilling drug of novelty is drunk deeply by such presentism; but it is a narcotic with diminishing returns. At stake here is a forgetting of 'higher times' and the stretching of liturgical time…Strangely, it fails to be expectant about the future. It is an orientation to what's coming that lacks hope; instead, it simply records the onslaught of events." (p. 159)

"To be human is to be called. But called to what? Gathered for what? The congregation gathers in response to a call to worship, which is the fundamental vocation of being human…The very reason that we are gathered for worship under the cross is because of humanity's fundamental failure to carry out the task and mission of being the image of God. The imago Dei is not a thing or property that was lost (or retained); it was a calling and a vocation that Adam and Eve failed to carry out…Jesus takes up and completes the vocation of Israel, whose vocation was a recommissioning for the creational task of being God's image bearers. Thus Jesus is our exemplar of what it looks like to fulfill the cultural mandate." (p. 162)

"We fulfill the mission of being God's image bearers by undertaking the work of culture making." (p. 165)

"Worship is best understood on the order of action, not reflection; worship is something that we do…The practices of Christian worship do this work nonetheless because of the kind of creature we are…In the action of gathering, there is a visceral training of our imagination that shapes how we subsequently think about our identity and our calling as human, in relation to God and in relation to others." (p.166)

"Because we are so fundamentally creatures, being aimed at the Creator, so to speak, is a necessary condition for being fully or properly human." (p. 169)

"Authentic worship, like toddler talk, expresses who we are and forms what we are becoming." (p. 172)

"Implicit in Christian worship is a vision not just for spiritual flourishing but also for human flourishing; this is not just practice for eternal bliss; it is training or temporal, embodied human community." (p. 174)

"God's law is not a stern restriction of our will but an invitation to find peace and rest in what Augustine would call the 'right order' of our will. In this respect, the giving of commandments is an expression of love; the commandments are given as guardrails that encourage us to act in ways that are consistent with the 'grain of the universe,' so to speak." (p. 174-175)

"The conception of autonomous freedom as freedom of choice – freedom to construct our own ends and to invent our own visions of the good life – chafes against the very notion of a law outside of ourselves…Human and all of creation flourish when they are rightly ordered to a telos that is not of their own choosing but rather is stipulated by God…It is an invitation to find the good life by welcoming the boundaries of law that guide us into the grooves that constitute the grain of the universe and are conducive to flourishing." (p. 175-176)

"Just as the Fall means not that we stop desiring but rather that our desire becomes disordered, so too sin does not mean that we stop being culture makers; rather, it means that we do this poorly, sinfully, unjustly." (p. 178)

"Image-bearing is a social reality: we are not deputized as little isolated images; rather, we bear the image in our collaborative cultural labors." (p. 184)

"Unfortunately, in the Reformed tradition, because we are rightly concerned not to accede to the modern gnosticism that would denigrate the goodness of creation, we can also be prone to blur Scripture's marked distintion between the world and the new creation (of which the church is a part). We even get a little embarrassed about the New Testament's stark claims about the people of God. In short, in the name of defending the goodness of creation, we paper over the distinction between structure and direction; thus our affirmation of creation slides into an affirmation of the world, which then slides toward an affirmation of 'the world' even in its distorted, misdirected configurations. In the name of the goodness of creation, we bend over backward to affirm common grace and are embarrassed by the language of antithesis, which feels dualistic and otherworldly. In short, we forget the reunciations that attend our baptism." (p. 190)

"In contrast to secular liturgies that are fixated on the novel and the new (including the liturgies of the university), which are trying their best to get us to forget what happened five minutes ago, Christian worship constitutes us as a people of memory." (p. 191)

"The good news announced in the Great Commission is that God has made it possible for us to actually participate in the cultural mandate. We are sent into the world to make disciples, which means we're being sent into the world to invite them to find their identity and vocation in Christ, the second Adam, the model of the new human." (p. 206)

"When Christians engage in the practices of hospitality and Sabbath keeping singing and forgiveness, simplicity and fasting, they are engaging in a way of life that is formative and constitutive of Christian discipleship." (p. 212)

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