Heart’s desire

Desiring the KingdomReview by Craig Thompson

Book | Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation | James K.A. Smith

James K A Smith’s, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation is an accessible and valuable introduction to the nature and purpose of Christian worship. Drawing on contemporary understandings of the nature of the human being – which nevertheless have ancient Christian resonance – Smith characterises Christian worship and education as a process of formation of hearts and desires.

In this, Christian practices are not different in kind from those of other communities and institutions. Human communities establish and perform rituals which express desire and give shape to some beloved ‘thing’. Smith makes this case by demonstrating the liturgical character of attending and consuming at a local shopping mall, and studying at university. The practices of the church are thus shown not to be much different in kind from those of other communities or institutions. Alternatively, those other communities and practices – even self-nominated ‘secular’ ones – can be understood as having their own religious character not much different in kind from that of the church. We are all, Smith proposes, ‘homo liturgicus’: liturgical animals.

And the impact of these liturgies and practices runs very deep. The practices in which we engage affect how we think and how we will continue to act. The importance of worship is then heightened, for it is a matter of our being trained in particular ways of seeing and acting in the world, of being nurtured into a particular kingdom. The liturgy is not only the ‘work of the people’ (the meaning of the Greek roots of liturgy) but a working of the people into a different people, a different community, a different kingdom.

Desiring the Kingdom is very readable and would serve well as a refresher for the tired worship leader or as a stimulant for a church council or worship committee towards deeper reflection on what we are called to do, to be, and to receive in that most central aspect of the life of God’s people – its worship.

Available at: www.amazon.com RRP: $22.99

 

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