Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works

James K Smith, Author
James K.A. Smith. Baker Academic, $22.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8010-3578-4
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In the second of three volumes on a theology of culture, Smith (Desiring the Kingdom) urges churches to move beyond pursuing liturgy as a means to an end and instead to understand the embodied aspects of worship—kneeling, standing, singing, the repetition of creeds—as ends in themselves. Through liturgical practices, worshippers develop habits that turn them toward enacting God’s shalom kingdom in the world. Arguing that we are guided primarily by imagination, which is primed through the conduit of the body, Smith maintains that the structure of church liturgies matter deeply in providing a counterweight to the liturgies of self-centeredness promoted in the larger culture. Churches that rely too heavily on word alone, or which conform to a mall-culture ethos, threaten to deny people the holistic formation a classic church liturgy provides. Smith uses literature, poetry, philosophy, and film to make a compelling case that it would behoove churches and seminaries to attend more closely to imagination and aesthetics rather than doctrine as central to developing an other-oriented Christian desire. (Feb.)
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