Imagining the Kingdom by James K. A. Smith
How Worship Works (Cultural Liturgies)

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How does worship work? How exactly does liturgical formation shape us? What are the dynamics of such transformation? In the second of James K. A. Smith's three-volume theology of culture, the author expands and deepens the analysis of cultural liturgies and Christian worship he developed in his well-received Desiring the Kingdom. He helps us understand and appreciate the bodily basis of habit formation and how liturgical formation--both "secular" and Christian--affects our fundamental orientation to the world. Worship "works" by leveraging our bodies to transform our imagination, and it does this through stories we understand on a register that is closer to body than mind. This has critical implications for how we think about Christian formation.

Professors and students will welcome this work as will pastors, worship leaders, and Christian educators. The book includes analyses of popular films, novels, and other cultural phenomena, such as The King's Speech, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, and Facebook.

About James K. A. Smith

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James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition, he is editor of Comment magazine and a senior fellow of the Colossian Forum. Smith is the author or editor of many books, including the Christianity Today Book Award winners Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? and Desiring the Kingdom, and is editor of the well-received The Church and Postmodern Culture series (
Published February 15, 2013 by Baker Academic. 224 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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In the second of three volumes on a theology of culture, Smith (Desiring the Kingdom) urges churches to move beyond pursuing liturgy as a means to an end and instead to understand the embodied aspects of worship—kneeling, standing, singing, the repetition of creeds—as ends in themselves.

Dec 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Imagining the Kingdom: How Wo...

The American Conservative

Although religion and art seem to be at cross-purposes, they can reach a kind of détente because religion needs artists “in order to make concrete its abstract notion of the soul.” Thus, a Michelangelo finds personal immortality on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Catholic Church maintai...

Sep 10 2014 | Read Full Review of Imagining the Kingdom: How Wo...

Christianity Today

It may sound strange for a philosopher (at Calvin College) to downplay the role of thinking, but Smith is quick to see the inconsistencies between what we think and what we do.

May 24 2013 | Read Full Review of Imagining the Kingdom: How Wo...

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