In the Preface to this second volume of his Cultural Liturgies series, philosophy professor Jamie Smith acknowledges that volume one, Desiring the Kingdom, was perceived as “a challenging academic book” by those who operate outside of the groves of Academe. To rectify that in this follow-up, he structures the first part as a more-scholarly apologia and the second part as a more-practical application of the previous theory. That said, much of Imagining the Kingdom will be hard to digest for all but the most intellectually curious. But where Smith shines, for the contemporary Church and its worship leaders, is the final chapter, “Restor(y)ing the World,” an interesting look at how a proper appreciation of narrative—over and against enlightened logic—informs our understanding of how worship works. To wit: “We absorb the Christian faith as a mode of ‘practical sense,’ not primarily by the didactic dissemination of content, … where the Story is the air we breathe and the water in which we swim, operative in the background in ways we might not always realize. There is a kind of grand poetry about the shape of … Christian worship that shows rather than tells. And the narrative ‘showing’ resonates with our imagination in ways that elude our intellectual grasp.” Okay, Bob Webber was saying similar things in more accessible fashion 15 years ago, but for those looking for something a bit more meaty, Smith provides an excellent metaphysical look at worship.
Watch six informational videos from James K.A. Smith about the book:
What is the Cultural Liturgies Project?
From “Desiring” to “Imagining”
How Worship Works: Implication for Practice
Defined by Our Loves: A Liturgical Anthropology
The Power of Habit and the Gift of Practices