The 2014 E.P. Wahl Lectures -- Friday March 14, 2014

“Imagining the Kingdom”

Jaime Smith  - Wahl Lectures 2014 SpeakerIn this day-long lectureship, Dr. James K.A. Smith (pictured right) of Calvin College will discuss his recent research and the subject of his newest book, Imagining the Kingdom, exploring how our forms of worship and liturgy shape us in our journey with Christ

Taylor is pleased to welcome Dr. Smith as our featured presenter for the E.P. Wahl Lectures. Born and raised in Ontario, he is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, the Institute of Christian Studies and Villanova University. He held a faculty position at Loyola Marymount University and is now Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, holding the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview. Smith occasionally teaches in the PhD program at Calvin Theological Seminary and has been a visiting professor at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and Regent College in Vancouver, BC. He also serves as editor of Comment magazine and a Senior Fellow for The Colossian Forum.

Smith is the author or editor of many books, including the Christianity Today Book Award winners Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? and Desiring the Kingdom, and his newest Imagining the Kingdom (2013, Baker Academic).

This is an opportunity to gain fresh insights and perspectives on understanding and appreciating the bodily basis of habit formation and how liturgical formation--both "secular" and Christian--affect one's fundamental orientation to the world. Worship "works" by leveraging one's body to transform his or her imagination, and it does this through stories understood on a register that is closer to body than mind. This has critical implications for thinking about the nature of Christian formation and the role of the arts in Christian mission.

Registration is Now Open!

SCHEDULE (more details on these topics available soon) 
2014 E.P. Wahl Lectures | Friday, March 14, 2014, at Taylor Seminary

8:30 AM  Registration and Coffee
9:00 AM  Lecture #1: We Are What We Love: Discipling Desire
10:15 AM  Refreshments
10:30 AM  Lecture #2:  Lovers in a Dangerous Time: On “Secular” Liturgies
12:00 PM  Lunch – included with your paid registration
1:00 PM  Lecture #3: Restor(y)ing the Imagination: Christian Worship as Re-narration
2:30 PM  Refreshments
2:45 PM  Lecture #4: The Secular is Haunted: Christian Proclamation as Postmodern Invitation
4:30 PM  2014 E.P. Wahl Lectures Conclude


"Imagining the Kingdom is a fit successor to Jamie Smith's remarkable Desiring the Kingdom. The new book is, like its predecessor, learned but lively, provocative but warmhearted, a manifesto and a guide. Smith takes Christians deeper into the artistic, imaginative, and practical resources on which we must draw if we wish to renew not only our minds but also our whole beings in Christ."
--Alan Jacobs,
Honors College of Baylor University

In this wonderfully rich and engagingly readable book of 'liturgical anthropology,' Smith makes a persuasive case for the thesis that human beings are best understood as worshiping animals. It has important implications at once for practical theology's reflection on religious formation, liturgy, and pedagogy and for philosophical theorizing about just what religion is. And it develops as an engaging and lively conversation among an astonishing mix of people: imagine Calvin, Proust, Merleau-Ponty, Augustine, Wendell Berry, Bourdieu, and David Foster Wallace all in the same room really talking to each other about being human and how to think about it!"
--David Kelsey, Yale Divinity School

Jamie Smith shows us that the gospel does not primarily happen between our ears but in all the movements of the body by which we are formed and in turn form the world. I know of no more thorough and sophisticated account of how secular liturgies form and deform us and how Christian liturgies can help. Though sophisticated, Smith's book is also a delight. Its pages are filled with great poetry and insights from films, novels, and everyday life."
--William T. Cavanaugh, DePaul University

A thought-provoking, generative reflection on the imagination-shaping power of Christian worship practices. What an ideal book for crossing boundaries among academic disciplines and between the academy and the church."
--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College, and Calvin Theological Seminary

It is heartening to set one's eyes on Jamie Smith's bold and creative endeavor to awaken Christians, Protestants in particular, to the centrality of worship in even, nay especially, our moral lives. This thoughtful book is rightly concerned with a restoration of the Christian imagination rooted in habits of virtue."
--Vigen Guroian, University of Virginia


"James Smith shows in clear, simple, and passionate prose what worship has to do with formation and what both have to do with education. He argues that the God-directed, embodied love that worship gives us is central to all three areas and that those concerned as Christians with teaching and learning need to pay attention, first and last, to the ordering of love. This is an important book and one whose audience should be much broader than the merely scholarly."
--Paul J. Griffiths, Duke Divinity School

In lucid and lively prose, Jamie Smith reaches back past Calvin to Augustine, crafting a new and insightful Reformed vision for higher education that focuses on the fundamental desires of the human heart rather than on worldviews. Smith deftly describes the 'liturgies' of contemporary life that are played out in churches--but also in shopping malls, sports arenas, and the ad industry--and then re-imagines the Christian university as a place where students learn to properly love the world and not just think about it."
--Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Messiah College; authors of Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation

This is a wise, provocative, and inspiring book. It prophetically blurs the boundaries between theory and practice, between theology and other disciplines, between descriptive analysis and constructive imagination. Anyone involved in Christian education should read this book to glimpse a holistic vision of learning and formation. Anyone involved in the worship life of Christian communities should read this book to discover again all that is at stake in the choices we make about our practices."
--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary


ImaginingTheKingdomInterested in Reading Dr. Smith's book? Check it out here:

035784: Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies Volume 2 Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, Cultural Liturgies Volume 2
By James K.A. Smith / Baker Academic

How does worship work? How exactly does liturgical formation shape us? What are the dynamics of such transformation? In the second of James K. A. Smith's three-volume theology of culture, the author expands and deepens the analysis of cultural liturgies and Christian worship he developed in his well-received Desiring the Kingdom. He helps us understand and appreciate the bodily basis of habit formation and how liturgical formation--both "secular" and Christian--affects our fundamental orientation to the world. 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.

Professors and students will welcome this work as will pastors, worship leaders, and Christian educators. The book includes analyses of popular films, novels, and other cultural phenomena, such as The King's Speech, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, and Facebook.