This is such a great article by Os Guinness that I wish I could go back in time to post it again and then like my own post.
Christians should not be marked by pessimism
My only gripe: CCCU didn’t offer this article in a web version. You have to open up their PDF reader thing. Totally annoying. But it’s worth it. I promise!
You can read a quick summary of the main points of the speech here and listen to the audio file of the address.
Guinness hammers home the point that if the Gospel means anything, it certainly means that the pessimism that marks so much popular discourse in Christian circles needs to stop.
from Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation, by James K. A. Smith:
The church often adopts a . . . misguided strategy: while the mall, Victoria’s Secret, and Jerry Bruckheimer are grabbing hold of our gut (kardia) by means of our body and its senses — in stories and images, sights and sound, and commercial versions of “smells and bells” — the church’s response is oddly rationalist. It plunks us down in a “worship” service, the culmination of which is a 45 minute didactic sermon, a sort of holy lecture, trying to convince us of the dangers by implanting doctrines and beliefs in our minds. While the mall paradoxically appreciates that we are liturgical, desiring animals, the (Protestant) church still tends to see us as Cartesian minds. While secular liturgies are after our hearts through our bodies, the church thinks it only has to get into our heads. While Victoria’s Secret is fanning a flame in our kardia, the church is trucking water to our minds. While secular liturgies are enticing us with affective images of a good life, the church is trying to convince us otherwise by depositing ideas.
Such a rationalist response is inadequate and mistargeted because it continues to assume a flawed anthropology*.
*Smith would explain that this “flawed anthropology” is our tendency in Christian circles to define people as thinkers or believers (thus ministers try to change beliefs and worldviews) instead of recognizing that humans are, at heart, lovers and desirers and worshipers. What we LOVE determines what we believe and how we act.
Smith’s thesis is that our desires are “trained” by our practices, not by our beliefs. We live (subconsciously) according to our notion of “the good life” — we bend everything toward achieving that life for ourselves, and how we define “the good life” depends entirely on what we love.