I read this in graduate school and enjoyed the way in which Oberman takes seriously all of Luther's medieval wildness. Luther was "ahead of his time"I read this in graduate school and enjoyed the way in which Oberman takes seriously all of Luther's medieval wildness. Luther was "ahead of his time" in many ways and an admirer or Erasmus and the other sophisticated humanists. However, Luther was also extremely earthy, homespun, and passionate; he had deep roots in medieval life and piety that are critical to understanding even the most radical reforms and changes that he championed....more
Specifically he challenges the idea that human beings are essentially "thinking beings" who are shaped and formed by belBy Keefe H. Cropper at Amazon:
Specifically he challenges the idea that human beings are essentially "thinking beings" who are shaped and formed by beliefs and/or ideas. Rather, human beings are essentially imaginative and desiring beings oriented to seek out their first love. What Smith wants to bring to light is the precognitive, prereflective understanding of the world situated in the human imagination that then gives rise to thoughts and beliefs. He draws from Charles Taylors concept of the social imaginary to describe this precognitive understanding of the world. That is, we indwell an understanding of the world before we think about it. Thus, current talk about worldview, while valuable, focuses too heavily upon our conceptual understanding and misses the fact of an imaginative construction of the world that precedes it. This imaginative construction is formed in the most mundane of ways - through practices that form habits, each of which have implicit in them an understanding of the world. Thus, Smith calls for us to exegete the things that we do (such as go shopping at the mall and attend sporting events) in order to bring to light how we are training ourselves to be human. For Smith, everything is formative - the question is "how are we being formed by what we are doing?" He calls us to engage in an intentional counter-formation grounded in Christian worship.
By Joseph Bumbulis at Amazon:
Overall, the power of Part I is Smith's aim is to unveil the truth that behind every pedagogy or practice for teaching is a philosophical anthropology, or understanding of human existence. I fully appreciate Smith's understanding of human anthropology: "loving, desiring, affective, liturgical animals who, for the most part, don't inhabit the world as thinkers or cognitive machines." So, instead of being pushed by our beliefs, we are "pulled by a telos that we desire."
Part II builds off of the anthropology of humans as "fundamentally and primordially- lovers," to instill worship as the creation of habits that "constitute the fulcrum of our desires." Smith claims rightly that instead of focusing on changing beliefs or worldviews, the church or particularly the Christian university must inculcate habits that counter the cultural practices that are "thick"- or powerful enough to (mis)guide human desire. The final section of Desiring the Kingdom reflects on the worship practices in the Christian tradition that are "formative for identity, that inculcate particular visions of the good life." Possibly the most important piece in this section for myself is Smith's argument that the imago die is basically the participation of humans in the missio dei, but not in those words.
This is where Smith gets closest to being right. The practices that will ultimately guide human desire lie with and beyond the Sunday morning worship service. "[T:]he image of God is a task, a mission," writes Smith.
By G. Kyle Essary at Amazon:
Smith explains that in terms of education, since the human is foundationally a "thinking thing," the university must be geared at informing the mind. This move, which actually partially began before the Cartesian revolution, fundamentally confronts the origin of the university in the Christian monastery. The Christian monastery focused on forming the person through practice, repetition, method, sacramental living and worship, while also informing the person through scheduled readings, discussions and teachings. The modern university moved toward focusing on pure information. Now, the student reads books, the teacher lectures while the students take notes in order to pass tests. Most students will skip classes, throw together papers and stay up the night before the exam in order to cram in every last bit of information that will fit. After the semester finishes, the student leaves unchanged and ultimately unformed, waiting for other aspects of culture to form them. What about other forms of knowledge? What about the desires? What is the role of the imagination? Am I molded ethically, or can I merely now think "rationally" about ethics? Have habits and life been changed in any formative way, or does the student simply now have access to a larger database of information?
Since the modern university has moved from forming people to informing them, where do they find their formative influences? Smith critiques some of the secular liturgies that actually shape the majority of Western individuals. The finest two examples of formative ideals and locations are the shopping mall and the stadium, both used by Smith to show that we are desiring, worshipping animals that will find our liturgical formation even after the university has excluded formation from their program.
In a masterful chapter, Smith shows the formative aspects of a liturgical worship service. He focuses on the bodily aspects, the scents, the images, the sounds as well as exegeting the very meaning of a people coming out from their general lives in order to take part in this formative practice of "going to church." After reading this chapter, sitting on a bus in SE Asia, I wanted no more than to be in the midst of a worship service. I found myself trying to critique my situation and find what sacramental aspects of the bus ride could inspire my personal worship. Ultimately, this social/theological critique actually moved me as a reader beyond the fascinating discussion of the text, and toward a desire to worship God and serve others.
By G. Francke at Amazon:
He's grown up a bit since 'Introducing Radical Orthodoxy', but this is still the James Smith who believes Herman Dooyeweerd is important today, and thinks Karl Barth produced an anti-secular 'bombshell' (in what countries, exactly?). He strains in this book to rehabilitate conservative Protestant theology on the other side of its true bombshell (fundamentalism), in a postmodern guise. If you're interested in philosophical theology about language, eros and the kingdom, why not read the Anglicans he's drawing from? Their English is better as well....more
Lyrical and balanced, this is a story of old age, suffering and defeat in the light of a just glimpsed and hoped-for youth and regeneration. It's useLyrical and balanced, this is a story of old age, suffering and defeat in the light of a just glimpsed and hoped-for youth and regeneration. It's use of simple South African realities and timeless biblical images is honest, extravagant and lovely....more
Joyce relates how he found and accepted his calling as a secular priest and exiled artist. It's a heartbreaking and profound story of faith and idealiJoyce relates how he found and accepted his calling as a secular priest and exiled artist. It's a heartbreaking and profound story of faith and idealism lost and and (in some small sense) regained. His story, a thousand times repeated and imitated in subsequent generations, portrays youth and artistry under modernity's (or just mankind's) harsh thumb....more
Provides great insights into this challenging field as well as a readable survey of the OT conceptual world. I particularly appreciated his discussionProvides great insights into this challenging field as well as a readable survey of the OT conceptual world. I particularly appreciated his discussion of the fact that ancient people understood something to exist if it had a divine function (served the gods) rather than if it had spacial-temporal properties....more