Friday, February 01, 2013

"Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works"

The second book in James K.A. Smith's Cultural Liturgies Series is out:

(see video version of the first book here  and an excerpt at 

Why Victoria's In on the Secret")


Books and Culture podcast about the book here

 Info from Baker Books:

How does worship work? How exactly does liturgical formation shape people? And how does the Spirit marshal the dynamics of such transformation? In the second of James K. A. Smith's three-volume theology of culture, the author expands and deepens the analysis of cultural liturgies and Christian worship he developed in his acclaimed Desiring the Kingdom. Drawing on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Pierre Bourdieu, this book helps readers understand and appreciate the bodily basis of habit formation and how liturgical formation--both "secular" and Christian--affects one's fundamental orientation to the world. Worship "works" by leveraging one's body to transform his or her imagination, and it does this through stories understood on a register that is closer to body than mind. This has critical implications for thinking about the nature of Christian formation and the role of the arts in Christian mission.
Students of philosophy, liturgical studies, and theology will welcome this work as will scholars, pastors, worship leaders, and Christian educators. Imagining the Kingdomincludes analyses of popular films, novels, and other cultural phenomena, such as The King's SpeechRise of the Planet of the Apes, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, the iPhone, and Facebook.

How to Read This Book
Introduction: A Sentimental Education: On Christian Action
Part 1: Incarnate Significance: The Body as Background1. Erotic Comprehension
2. The Social Body
Part 2: Sanctified Perception3. "We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live": How Worship Works
4. Restor(y)ing the World: Christian Formation for Mission

"This book is a thought-provoking, generative reflection on the imagination-shaping power of Christian worship practices. Smith describes and demonstrates how practices, perceptions, emotions, and thought interact and how together they can be shaped in cruciform ways. 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
"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, Clyde S. Kilby Chair Professor of English, Wheaton College
"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, Luther A. Weigle Professor of Theology Emeritus, 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. Smith shows how we encounter God with our whole selves and how God carries us even when we don't know what is going on."
William T. Cavanaugh, senior research professor, DePaul University
"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. Smith's acute insight into the false and lying stories and liturgies generated by the dominant powers of our economy makes his case for a reclamation of worship within the churches compelling; for this thoughtful book is rightly concerned with a restoration of the Christian imagination rooted in habits of virtue."
Vigen Guroian, professor of religious studies, University of Virginia; author of The Melody of Faith

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