James K.A. Smith

The Grain of the Universe

Desiring the KingdomOne of the myriad reasons it’s important to believe in a Trinitarian Creator is the fact that the pattern of the universe begins to take form rather than fall apart on the grounds of subjectivity (i.e. – Evolution, Platonism, Gnosticism). Moreover, when a Trinitarian Creator gives his laws we can trust that these laws do not run against the way He has made the universe to operate but with the grain of the Universe. It is this sentiment that James K.A. Smith captures so well in his book Desiring the Kingdom. In the fifth chapter of the book Smith works his way through the liturgical practices of the church to show the many different ways in which they form a peculiar people.

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That’s Shocking!

As I slowly work through James K.A. Smith’s work Desiring the Kingdom I notice him coming back to a familiar theme: Literature, poetry, art, etc. can do a better job getting at the heart of certain truths than theology, philosophy, science, etc. Smith doesn’t write this in order to disregard the didactic transfer of knowledge. To the contrary that’s what his entire book is (as he readily admits). Rather, Smith points out the fact that a theological treatise on courage doesn’t go nearly as far getting at what courage actually is than say J.R.R. Tolkien does when he writes about Gandalf standing down a balrog in Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring.

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Apocalyptic Thinking

Unfortunately, most of the time people hear or see the word “apocalypse” today they immediately associate it with some sort of catastrophic, end of the world, event that’s portrayed in movies like I Am Legend or the forthcoming Left Behind movie. This is unfortunate considering the menial amount of work required to clarify such confusion. Most of you readers should know that the last book in the Bible is named The Revelation to John (not “Revelations”). The word “revelation” comes from the Greek word that we get “apocalypse” from. Ultimately, the word “apocalypse” means “reveal”, hence the name of the last book of the Bible is The Revelation to John & opens by stating “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” (Rev. 1:1a). Another translation of the first sentence in The Revelation of John goes like this: “Apocalypse of Jesus Christ…” (Wycliffe Bible). The words “reveal/revelation” and “apocalypse” are synonymous. This means that when we are looking at “apocalyptic” literature we aren’t necessarily trying to figure out what it is telling us about the end of the world. Instead we should be asking what it is trying to reveal to us about the world we live in (or more correctly, the world the apostle John lived in).

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From the Body Up

In the Introduction to James K.A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, & Cultural Formation Smith makes the argument that the theories we make about how we should educate people are formed from a prior assumption about what we believe people are. Smith argues that in our Modern age we generally assume that people are (at our core) thinking beings. Such a view of humanity results in a pedagogy that aims (primarily) at the head; education is seen as cognitive. Smith sees this approach to education as lacking because he sees the assumed anthropology as flawed. Smith argues that this truncated view of humanity (as thinking things) does not agree with the Bible’s more holistic view of humanity.

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Aesthetics & the Gospel

Yesterday I read an article that I wanted to bring to y’all’s (my faithful reader or two) attention and briefly discuss. The article itself discussion the much publicized Bibliotheca Kickstarter campaign Adam Lewis Greene. It’s a pretty amazing occurrence considering the original goal for the campaign was $37,000 and as of right now they’ve raised almost $1.5 million! The goal of the Bibliotheca Kickstarter project is to publish a Bible. Greene’s vision is to simplify the Bible and remove much of the additions that have found their way into Biblical production over the years. No, Greene is not talking about the actual content of the Bible, he’s focusing on things like: cross-references, footnotes, study notes, concordances, and all the other things you’ll typically find in a Bible at Barnes & Nobel. Greene wants to publish a Bible (ASV translation) looks, feels, and reads more like a book.

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