Desiring the Kingdom–Introduction

Mystie is hosting a book club on Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith. Drop by and read what others have to say about this book. I am intimidated to link this post with some of the women who are participating. Most of their posts are way past my level of thinking. I am afraid that this is going to be a simple, plain post with simple, plain thoughts.

I have read this book and I have to say that the introduction was my favourite part of the book. That isn’t saying much for the book, is it? The intro excited me. It caused me to re-think my daily rhythms. There was so much in the intro. I don’t know whether I will be able to post on the other chapters but I could write 3 or 4 posts on the intro alone.

Growing up, my family intermittently attended a Lutheran church. Actually, I was the one who did the attending. My dad would drive me to the church, let me out and I would go to the Sunday School. I hated that Sunday School. The teachers were not kind and the kids were less so. That church was very much a church of image. I didn’t fit that image because my parents did not attend the church services, well, not very often anyway. The few times that I did attend the church service were times of bewilderment and boredom. I had no idea of anything that I was reciting during the sermon. It was all gobbledygook to me.

That time in the Lutheran church (we left the church when I was 13) coloured my view of liturgy. I think most of that colouring had to do with how I was treated by the other kids but, regardless of the reason, to my mind, if you wanted to get closer to Jesus, liturgy was not the way to do it.

I became a believer 5 years after we left the Lutheran church. I wanted nothing to do with the liturgical church. In fact, I threw away anything that was liturgical in nature. I saw liturgy as soul-numbing.

Then I listened to Jenny Rallens talk on academical liturgy over at the Society of Classical Learners. Everything changed on that dime. I began to see the error of my ways. I began to see that what I have been doing with my children was indeed liturgical in the sense of experience. Through the rhythm of our day, I was giving my children a liturgy. In the habits that we carried out on a daily basis, well, that was liturgy. Through all of that, I was nurturing a love for those things of truth, beauty and goodness–things of God. On the heels of Rallens’ talk, I read the introduction of Desiring the Kingdom. The awareness and the excitement grew in bubbles all around me as I read this quote:

What if education…is about the formation of hearts and desires? What if we began by appreciating how education not only gets into our head but also (and more fundamentally)grabs us by the gut…? What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions…and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as input to our thinking? What if the primary work of education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect: And what if this had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds?

Those words changed my view on liturgy. I see it differently now. I am still not ‘there.’ But I am slowly changing. That was obvious on how we celebrated Advent this Christmas. It was a time of quiet, a time of simple so that we could experience and enjoy the waiting.

As I said above, I could write more on this introduction but I will stop here.

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2 Responses to Desiring the Kingdom–Introduction

  1. Melissa says:

    Julia, I recently read this book after it mentioned by you (or someone else? I can’t remember) on ClassEd. Though I have been thinking about the very related idea of ordo amoris for a few years now, Smiths book has been a paradigm changer for me. I’ve been thinking–and talking– about it a lot. Just ask my family : ) My son is reading it now (home for college on break) and he thinks he will recommend it for the required freshman Great Conversation class at his college.

    I was raised in a non-liturgical Protestant church, but my husband who was raised strict Nazarene, reminded me that even churches that are considered non-liturgical have a liturgy, and he went on to recount to me the church-liturgy of his childhood. Interesting.

    I too liked the introduction and beginning of Smith’s book best. He is repetitive, but it some ways that didn’t bother me as I am slow to grasp an idea and need many reminders and different ways to think about something. I’m hoping to read Imagining the Kingdom this year.

  2. Melissa, I always thought that the churches I went to were non-liturgical but in reading Smith’s book, I can see that there is liturgy in every church. I even see it in the Pentecostal church that we used to attend. Smith’s book has changed my view on liturgy.

    I have Imagining the Kingdom on my TBR pile. I hope to read it this year as well.

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