You Are What You Love (2016)

James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love begins with an examination of what he calls cultural liturgies, and he places them in opposition to the historical liturgies of the church. Taking Augustine’s claim that our hearts are restless until they rest in God for his launching point, he points out how the things we do—such as going to the shopping mall—have a formative impact on us through the habituation of certain practices that create vices in us. As a counter to the cultural liturgies that blind us to others and ourselves, he suggests formative engagement with Christian liturgy, especially that which follows the classic pattern of gathering, listening, communing, sending.

The final three chapters talk about the home, education, and vocation. Speaking about the home, he suggests that intentional practices be undertaken so as to continue the formation received at church—intentional moments of prayer, hymn, and communing. Especially, he notes how baptism and marriage reorient the home away from expressivist claims about the self toward the formative claim of holiness of life. Concerning education, he notes that education is best understood as a formative set of practices, rather than a set of ideas to be taught. That is, it is better to let children engage in worship practices at church and home in order to be formed at the heart level as opposed to teaching children about doctrines. The heart will inform the mind. Vocations, finally, find the fullest expression when they are oriented toward justice, peace, and joy; this orientation is, again, learned in worship practices.

Worship forms our hearts to love God and provides a counter narrative to cultural liturgies. The result is formation in the way of God, who desires that all persons rest in him.

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