cover image You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit

James K.A. Smith. Brazos, $19.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-58743-380-1

Smith (Desiring the Kingdom), philosophy professor at Calvin College, offers a thought-provoking analysis of present-day American culture's secular liturgies, which he defines as "rituals that are loaded with an ultimate Story about who we are and what we're for," and argues persuasively for the need "to intentionally recalibrate the unconscious" in order to worship faithfully. Making an intriguing exploration of the shopping mall as a modern-day temple with a "consumer gospel," Smith invites readers to take a "liturgical audit" of other secular temples that provide formative, not innocuous, experiences. Unpacking the dramatic narrative of worship, including confession, sacraments, and weddings, Smith lifts up the power of story and "the historic practices of the faith," maintaining that faithful worship is "embodied, tangible, and visceral." He asserts that repetitive spiritual practices, at home and in church, have the power to shape moral character: "We become what we worship because what we worship is what we love." Examples from Smith's personal life as well as references to literature, philosophy, film, and art make this compelling and inspiring contribution to the study of spiritual disciplines both accessible and engaging. (Apr.)