Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 121 just arrived, and I had a chance to listen Friday.
A high school acquaintance, Walter Hansen (Senior when I was a Freshman, but it was a small school and he was not standoffish) has become patron of painter Bruce Herman, and they were interviewed about their joint book, Seeing Through Your Eyes.
They talked with host Ken Myers about meaning in art – a meaning that is nonverbal and not reducible to words, though talking about it can enhance appreciation in what the painter describes as a “dance.” They even dabble at the periphery of the theology of icons, from a Protestant perspective, it appears, as the artist is in regular dialog with an Orthodox Priest, Fr. Spiridon, who tells him his portraits are dangerous.
The prior track was an interview of Calvin College philosophy professor James K. A. Smith, who has shaken up the Evangelical/Calvinist world by two books under the rubric “Cultural Liturgies:” Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation and Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.
I wouldn’t say the Evangelical/Calvinist world is overreacting. These books are light years away in their sensibility from the Calvinist ne plu ultra of 4 bare walls and a 4 point sermon addressed to the left hemisphere of a wet computer.
“Smith seeks to re-vision education through the process and practice of worship” (Amazon book description)! He uses the word “liturgy”! He actually thinks that embodiedness has practical consequences, and isn’t just an interesting thought experiment from which to spin out philosophies! He even thinks that the body may have something to do with what the mind loves and therefore finds plausible!
Those are very challenging ideas for Calvinist especially, as they intrinsically challenge one to go beyond mere ideation, on which Calvinism tends to be strong, into praxis, on which it tends to be weak (and tended to be legalistic when praxis was strong).
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.
(Amazon book description of Smith’s second of three “Cultural Liturgy” books) Well do tell!
“Emergent Church” strikes me as an unintelligible mish-mash, but it bespeaks a longing for something more, and that something more often involves raids on traditional Christianity to borrow (they can’t steal it) bits of liturgy.
I cherish signs that my former Evangelical and Calvinist co-religionists are waking up to things that Orthodoxy has tacitly known all along, as both items 6 and 7 on Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 121 seem to me to signal. I keep thinking “the coin will drop” for Mars Hill muse and host Ken Myers soon, and he’ll frankly become the Orthodox Christian that seems to be emerging – but he may be three cars ahead of me on that train of thought.
It’s just not the sort of thing you blurt out while emerging if you want to “work in this town again.”
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)