Archive for the ‘James K. A. Smith’ Category

I grew up in the Church. There were many times when I had the haunting feeling that we were only filling chairs for the theatrical events that would ensue for the three visitors who had not yet “accepted Christ into their lives”. I am positive that I recognized the impoverished nature of those circumstances, but, in a way, I had not experienced or learned that there was another way. I thought, perhaps this is what the church is supposed to be. I recently finished James K. A. Smiths pop-theology book — I think it’s fair to call it that — Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, and in the section on Lyotard, Smith had this fantastic quote:

When I travel to France, I hope to be made to feel welcome. However, I don’t expect my French hosts to become Americans in order to make me feel at home. I don’t expect them to start speaking English, ordering pizza, talking about the New York Yankees, and so on. Indeed, if I wanted that, I would have just stayed home! Instead, what I’m hoping for is to be welcomed into their unique French culture; that’s why I’ve come to France in the first place. And I know that this will take some work on my part. I’m expecting things to be different; indeed I’m looking for this difference. So also, I think, with hospitable worship: seekers are looking for something our culture can’t provide. Many don’t want a religious version of what they can already get at the mall.

In the last year, I started attending a church in the Anglican Communion and, while there are several hundred essays/posts/etc., that could be written on the things going on within the communion, I must say, I have quickly learned the profound depth in the language and practice of the liturgical tradition. I think the church has much to offer to the world — in thought, word, deed, etc. — but will she have her unique voice, and a coherency to her message, a cogency to her thought? I think she/we can, but I think that as a whole we need to consider what that language is, and how we can practice it, rather than leaving our uniqueness behind for contemporary (or relevant) interests.


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