Homo Liturgicus


Well, I finally just finished up an amazing book that I started back in January. I need to thank my newest sister-in-law for providentially selecting this book for my Christmas present from a list of nearly 100 books on my Amazon wish list – not sure how you did that Amanda, but good choice! The book is one that I’ve blogged about before, and that I really should blog about a bit more: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith. The main idea of the book goes like this:

  • Human beings are liturgical creatures and not just thinking or believing ones; you are what you love and not, primarily, what you think.
  • Practices – the things we do – shape our desires. The end, the goal, the telos, of our lives is oriented by what we do day in and day out. The shape of our desires reveals our definition, or our vision, of the good life.
  • We participate in “liturgies” all the time – going to the mall, attending a sports game, or going to college. These seemingly “secular” and “neutral” practices are actually forming us into the kind of people who desire a specific vision of the good life; one that is antithetical to the Kingdom of God.
  • Christianity is not primarily a set of beliefs or a worldview, but rather “an encounter, a love story; it is an event.” What we think and believe as Christians is born out of what we do and this raises the stakes for what wedoin Christian worship.
  • By analyzing the common practices of Christian worship (the stuff we usually think of when we hear “liturgy”), we can articulate a Christian worldview. Worship should be seen as a counter-formation to the secular liturgies that vie for our hearts.
  • Finally, this has implications for “Christian education.” The usual goal of Christian education is to develop the same kind of students as non-Christian education, only with a “Christian perspective.” This results in students who act the same as their peers and who still desire a life that is antithetical to the Kingdom. Instead, “Christian education” should be deeply connected to the formative practices of the Church. Its goal should be formation; not information.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this book. It really has me excited in a lot of ways. I could not recommend it enough!

 

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3 comments on “Homo Liturgicus

  1. joshuawalters says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since your first post on shopping mall liturgy. I absolutely love thinking of Christianity as “an encounter, an event, a story” rather than a set of beliefs. In my final paper at Palmer I described worship as the re-telling of the Gospel story so that, by doing so, we inscribe ourselves into God’s Story.
    Thanks for sharing this concise summary, Joe.

  2. Kenneth C. Jackson says:

    Thanks so much for this summary! Even though I have not read this master piece but I have grasped the “meat” in it, and that is succinctly emphasized in your last statement, “Christian Education should be deeply connect to the formative practices of the Church. Its goal should be formation; not information”. I believe this this confirms what someone said, “We are human beings not human doing.” For me, this has to do with God molding you in the context of your cultures as we worship Him each day in our walk with Jesus Christ.

    God bless you brother.

  3. […] Liturgies” project and follows what could be the best book I’ve read in several years: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. You can find my extremely brief summary of that book right here. You can find a great review of […]

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