Desiring the Kingdom Book Club, week 3: Fully Human Vision

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Desiring the Kingdom Book Club

This week we’re discussing the middle of chapter 1, pages 46-63, of Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith.

Summary: Lots of Augustine

After the first section, which we read last week, covering incomplete anthropology, now Smith begins developing his idea of a more complete, holistic anthropology, one where man is not only a thinking or believing thing, but also a loving thing. And, that love or care is not general or abstract, but always intentional. Our love and care in the world always has direct objects, direction, aims.

Again we get echoes of Poetic Knowledge: Smith writes that most of the time we are not making deliberate, conscious choices, rationally decided, but are “simply involved in the world,” making choices on the gut-level, a prerational, affective place rather than a cognitive place. We can’t always articulate why we make the choices we do, but it is a prerational (poetic) love that directs those choices.

Smith says that love is what ultimately governs our vision of the good life. What we love is what we pledge allegiance to. What we love is what we worship.

Page 63 contained what I thought was a perfect summary of his position:

This love or desire – which is unconscious or noncognitive – is always aimed at some vision of the good life, some particular articulation of the kingdom. What primes us to be so oriented – and act accordingly – is a set of habits or dispositions that are formed in us through affective, bodily means, especially bodily practices, routines, or rituals that grab hold of our hearts through our imagination, which is closely linked to our bodily senses.

I did a little googling to find a summary of Augustine’s development of rightly ordered loves (other than C.S. Lewis’ more-often quoted summary), and I found this helpful article: St. Augustine on Rightly Ordered Love.

Further Book Club Conversation

Visit these other participants’ posts and keep the conversation going in the comment sections! You don’t have to have a blog to participate. Please jump on in.


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Next week: pages 63-73, the rest of chapter 1.

7 Responses

  1. Dawn
    | Reply

    I greatly appreciate your weekly synopses and thoughts on this book, Mystie. I have been wanting to read DtK for over a year and I was thrilled when you announced the discussion, as it finally prompted me to purchase the book. I am not participating much in words, but am following a long and enjoying the conversation. I admit to not loving this book thus far – although the ideas it contains truly are wonderful. Is that heresy? I do enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts and applications, though. Thanks everyone:).

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Not heresy at all. :) I think Smith would be a better writer if he spent a little less of his time and reading in postmodern academia. :)

      • Lisa
        | Reply

        I agree. I also feel like he really got most of his point across in the intro. :)

  2. Willa
    | Reply

    Hmm, my name isn’t showing up for me on my link-up, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to edit it. So I am hoping it is showing up for others.

    I love your summaries, Mystie! And thanks for the Augustine link.

    • Virginia Lee
      | Reply

      Willa, mine does not either. So maybe it is for others, because I do see your name on your link up.

      Now I need to actually go read others link ups! =)

      • Mystie Winckler
        | Reply

        It takes a minute or two before it shows up. :) Both links are there!

        • Willa
          | Reply

          Thanks! It was probably just being sluggish since usually I can see it once I refresh the page. Good to know that it works that way. I didn’t want you to think it was some weird anonymous spam thing.

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