coverCulture is a cultivating force.

We grow in a certain soil, and are formed by the environment we grow in and the practices we choose. Not “churchy” practices primarily, but ordinary, daily ones: social practices, media practices, shopping practices and more.

We are always being discipled: the question is, by who and what and to what end?

James K.A. Smith calls these forming practices “secular liturgies.” If this is all slightly mind-bending, but lights are going off, then it’s time you discovered his series of books. The first was Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation. You can get a very good sense of it in this excerpt. I shared briefly from the book shortly after its release, and several other times since then, anticipating the release of the second in the series: Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.

Smith has taken a middle road between a strictly academic work, and something more popular. And of course that fits with his thesis: we are desiring, worshipping animals. Appealing strictly or even PRIMARILY to cognition isn’t all that useful, and has contributed to the loss of energy and passion in our movement worldwide, particularly in the Cartesian West.

Lucky us – the Englewood Review has a look at the new book today. Elsewhere Jason Clark notes it on his website, as a book that has influenced him profoundly. Better still, you can hear Jamie talking about the books HERE.

Jasmine Smart writes,

“Smith’s work is ultimately about anthropology (what makes humans the way they are). In DTK, he established that humans are desiring animals. But he would sometimes receive the critique: “Before I love something, don’t I need to know what I’m loving? So doesn’t that mean that knowledge precedes love, and hence that intellect is prior to affect?” (125). Instead of intellect as a foundational orientation, Smith argues, with the vocabulary of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Pierre Bourdieu, humans develop a “know-how” that “seeps into their bones,” that is deeper than intellect. This aesthetic logic of my body is formed by habits that ultimately “construe my world in certain ways” (51) which means more often than not, I do not primarily think my way through the world; thinking emerges secondarily to this “bodily interaction with the world” (82).