Friday, August 8, 2014

Postmodernism 101

White, Heath. Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006.

White begins his book by asking the question, "Why read about postmodernism?" In answering this question he gives his motivation for writing this book. He kept hearing about postmodernism in various Christian "circles." There were Christians who wanted to understand these discussions, but did not know "what postmodernism was." Other Christians knew about it and wanted to "think more deeply" about how it could be applied to current Christian thinking. They were unable to do this without further knowledge.

White thought he could help different groups of Christians by writing this book. In Postmodernism 101 he seeks to explain what postmodernism is what issues it raises for Christianity in the twenty-first century. The author identifies himself as an evangelical Protestant in the introduction. He has written the book, however, for all types of Christians who have questions about postmodernism. White is a philosophy professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He earned his doctorate at Georgetown University.

Postmodernism 101 is a quick and easy read. It is only 176 pages but it reads much shorter. The prose and presentation of ideas a are quite clear. The author uses many illustrations and examples to illustrate his points. He does a good job in explaining key ideas and people associated with postmodernism. His explanations how a certain postmodern idea affects Christianity is quite helpful. This book is meant for the reader with little or no knowledge of postmodernism. The author includes an annotated bibliography for further reading at the back of the book. This is a good first book to begin reading about postmodernism. Another good point of the book is how the author compares pre-modern, modern, and post-modern thought.

The book includes seven chapters: "Why read about postmodernism?; "Premodern and modern minds;" "The postmodern turn against reason;" "Truth, power, and morality;" the self; "language and thought;" "inquiry and interpretation;" "culture and irony;" and "history and hope.

In the chapter on premodern and modern, he narrates the transition "from authority to reason." This is characterize by resisting traditional authorities like the Church. In addition, he notes, "faith in the power of reason is the central pillar of the modern worldview" (37). It is quite ironic that it is faith in reason. In our own times, people are losing faith in reason. Like Chesterton said, it is believers who are defending reason. The next chapter describes how postmodernism makes a "turn against reason." Postmodernism believes the modern project has failed.

The chapter on "truth, power, and morality" describes the denial of absolutes by postmodernism. It is thought that absolutes give people power over other people and this power is used to abuse others. The author thinks this denial of moral absolutes is troubling. He gives reasons for the necessity of moral absolutes.

One of my favorite chapters was the one on "inquiry and interpretation." The author notes, "for postmoderns, no knowledge is fully reliable and no concepts are absolutely indispensable. The reader is probably aware of the many attacks against foundationalism and certainty. Many Christians have accepted these critiques. Another postmodern idea is that everything is a text and needs to be interpreted. The author spends much time in the chapter on how postmodernism effects the way we think about interpreting the Bible. One aspect is the postmodernism emphasis that there are multiple meanings in the text. This actually agree with the pre-modern view of multiple senses in the Bible. This is one of the longer chapters in the book.

Postmodernism 101 is written as an introductory guide to postmodernism. It is written at a level that the beginner should be able to understand the concepts explained. The annotated bibliography will be useful for the reader who wants to go deeper.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Contending for the Faith

Wood, Ralph C. Contending for the Faith: The Church's Engagement with Culture. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2003. 218 pages. ISBN 0-918954-86-x

Ralph Wood in his book, Contending for the Faith: the Church's Engagement with Culture argues that churches must witness to the post-modern world. He believes that we are living in an "anti-cultural era: an era that is rejecting, with increasing vehemence, even the most basic requirements of life together and life before God" (1). He thinks the world is being "rebarbarized." The church can play a role in Christianizing the culture as it did in the Middle Ages. It can at least act as salt and culture to the culture. Wood notes, "The argument of this book is that Christian existence itself requires a culture: a realm where the most fundamental practices and doctrines of the church can be inculcated" (1). A the title implies the Church needs to engage the culture. One definition of engage is to "become involved in." The Church must not isolate itself from its culture. It must work within the American culture strengthening and transforming it.

Wood's goal is not to duplicate the work of H. Richard Niebuhr's, Christ and Culture. He is not going to offer one of the responses listed by Niebuhr. He thinks Niebuhr's book assumes that we live in a "Monolithic" culture. Wood thinks this is not true. Instead, the culture is "an immensely varied and dependent thing" (1). There are many cultures. He thinks the Church is called to create its own culture. He notes, "I will argue, in fact, that Scripture and Tradition provide the church with a distinctive kind of existence--with unique ways of birthing and dying, of becoming youthful and of growing old, of marrying and remaining single, of celebrating and sacrificing, of thinking and imagining, of worshiping the true God and protesting against false gods--and that these distinctive beliefs and practices constitute the church's own culture" (2). He denies that he is trying to create a Christian ghetto--Christian isolation from culture. Instead, the church will offer a culture that will revitalize the world. For example, the present culture seems to affirm death as shown in abortion and euthanasia. The Church will witness to the affirmation of life.

Ralph C. Wood is University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University. He is the author of The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Cosmic Vision in Four American Novelists, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ Haunted South, and Chesterton: the Nightmare Goodness of God, and other published works.

The book includes ten chapters. Some of the major themes addressed in this work are: the Church and culture; alternatives to the current culture; problems with 'evangelical engagement with culture; Church's Colleges; "Creating a Christian Educational Culture;" skepticism and sentimentality; truth, beauty, and goodness; Christian Romance; faithfulness and piety.

Wood argues that the "church can best engage its individualist American culture precisely by seeking to remain uncompromisingly faithful to the community-centered Gospel" (78). This is in contrast to the failed liberal Protestantism that said the church must accommodate its message to the liberal culture. The author thinks we need something like the twentieth century Catholic revival and something the like the work of the Inklings--C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and others. The author argues that writes like these and the fiction of Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor have been "a source of theological vitality for evangelicals. Thousands of them have found, through Catholic figures such as these, that their own scholarly and church lives have been given theological rigor and depth" (81). This has been shown even in the work of Wood which has majored on Catholic authors like Flannery O'Connor.

In chapter five, Wood describes the challenges facing the Church's colleges. He describes the works of Burtchaell and Marsden which have documented the secularization of colleges and universities. Wood notes, "without rootage in Christian thinking--faith seeking understanding, the good of the intellect--Christian piety and morality eventually die, though they may thrive for a while" (87). This seems to imply that our culture is living on borrowed time. How long will the culture collapse because it has been separated from its Christian roots?

Another point made by Wood in this chapter are the importance of a Christian vision of education. He notes, "One evident result of an unabashedly Christian vision is that it enables the liberal arts to flourish as often do not in more secular settings" (91). Wouldn't it be better to champion the liberal arts in Christian colleges and universities than abandoning them like the secular universities?

In other chapters Wood argues for the importance of religious liturgy. In the context he discusses the importance of beauty and holiness in the context of worship. He also shows how even the "ugly" can be a vehicle to worship God. What we look as disfigured could be a picture of Christ. This reminds me of my reading from Nouwen this morning. He spent time working with the mentally handicapped. Many will not see a purpose for those severely handicapped, either mentally or physically. Nouwen tells how God uses these people to show Christ's love. They even teach us how to love. How often do the values of the world determine our own values? Why do we think people that are wounded are of less value than the successful and powerful in the world's eyes?

Wood's Contending for the Faithful is a good read. It shows how the Church can be more beneficial to the culture by being true to its own teaching. However, the main purpose to being faithful is to glorify God. As the Westminster confessions says that our first duty is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Wood tries to lead a path between liberalism and fundamentalism. This book is written mainly for evangelicals. In it Wood encourages them to retrieve Catholic tradition, liturgy, and culture to revitalize their own tradition. It provides good advice on engaging the postmodern culture of our day.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Art of Reading Scripture

The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003. 334 pages. ISBN 0802812694

In the introduction, Davis and Hays note, "The difficulty of intepreting the Bible is felt not only in secular culture but also in the church at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Is the Bible authoritative for the faith and practice of the church? If so, in what way? What practices of reading offer the most appropriate approach to understanding the Bible? How does historical criticism illumine or obscure Scripture's message? How are traditional readings to be brought into engagement with historical methodologies, as well as feminist, liberationist, and postmodern readings? The church's lack of clarity about these issues has hindered its witness and mission, causing it to speak with an uncertain voice to the challenge of our time. Even where the Bible's authority is acknowledged in principle, many of our churches seem to have lost the art of reading it attentively and imaginatively" (xiv-xv).

These questions led the Center of Theological Inquiry (Princeton, New Jersey) to assemble fifteen scholars and pastors to meet "periodically over four years" to study these questions. They name this conversation "the Scripture Project." The project came up with nine principles of interpretation of Scripture. These nine "Theses" is described at the beginning of the book. Each of the essays address some or all of these principles. Here they are:

1. Scripture truthfully tells the story of God's action of creating, judging, and saving the world.

2. Scripture is rightly understood in the light of the church's rule of faith as a coherent dramatic narrative.

3. Faithful interpretation of Scripture requires an engagement with the entire narrative: the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old be rightly understood apart from the New.

4. Texts of Scripture do not have a single meaning limited to the intent of the original author. In accord with Jewish and Christian traditions, we affirm that Scripture has multiple complex senses given by God, the author of the whole drama.

5. The four canonical Gospels narrate the truth about Jesus.

6. Faithful interpretation of Scripture invites and presupposes participation in the community brought into being by God's redemptive action--the church.

7. The saints of the church provide guidance in how to interpret and perform Scripture.

8. Christians need to read the Bible in dialogue with diverse others outside the church.

9. We live in the tension between the "already" and the "not yet" of the kingdom of God; consequently, Scripture calls the church to ongoing discernment, to continually fresh rereadings of the text in light of the Holy Spirit's ongoing work in the world.

This volume gathered some of the best biblical interpreters of our day. The group includes Gary A. Anderson, University of Notre Dame; Richard Bauckham, University of St. Andrews; Brian E. Daley, University of Notre Dame; Ellen F. Davis, Duke Divinity School; Richard B. Hays, Duke Divinity School; James C. Howell, Methodist Pastor; Robert W. Jenson, Center of Theological Inquiry; William Stacy Johnson, Princeton Theological Seminary; L. Gregory Jones, Duke Divinity School; Christine McSpadden, Episcopal Priest; R. W. L. Moberly, University of Durham; David C. Steinmetz, Duke Divinity School; and Marianne Meye Thompson, Fuller Theological Seminary. These authors do not all agree with each other. However, they are unified by the Scripture Project and the Christian faith. They provide many different perspectives that will enlighten the reader. It is like going to a feast with many different dishes. I felt my faith challenged and engaged by these essays.

The book includes four parts: reading and teaching the Scriptures; "A Living Tradition;" "Reading Difficult Texts;" and "Selected Sermons." Some of the themes of the essays: teaching the Bible confessionally; the authority of the Scripture for the church; reading the Scriptures as a "cohereent story;" Patristic exegesis; model interpreters; Scripture reading and postmodernism; "embodying Scripture in the community of faith, and others.

There are many positives to this volume. I like the emphasis of reading the Scriptures in the context of the church. The authors accept the work of historical criticism but they want to go beyond it. They believe the scriptures is the book of the church. It is to be interpreted by the church. In addition, I like the emphasis on the multiple senses of the Scriptures. Readers will learn much here that can enhance their reading and teaching of Scripture.

One might think that because of the scholarly nature of the book that it is written for scholars. It is definitely not. I found the essays quite readable and enjoyable. I think the general adult reader should not have a problem of reading these essays. I especially like how these writers interpret the hard tasks of scripture like the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. There is much wisdom here in helping us to be better interpreters of Scripture. It was also helpful to see how Jewish scholars can help us interpret the Old Testament and make even the New Testament come alive. I might not agree with everything in this volume, but I agree with a lot of it. I found myself haven a deeper appreciation of Scripture from reading ths volume.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Evangelicals and Postliberals in Conversation

The Nature of Confession: Evangelicals & Postliberals in Conversation edited by Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996. 298 pages. ISBN: 0-8038-1869-3

The Nature of Confession was one of Christianity Today's Book of the year. It brought together Postliberals and Evangelicals to discuss issues they agreed on and differed. It including many of the leading theologians of our day: Alister McGrath, Miroslav Volf, George Lindbeck, Rodney Clapp, David Clark, George Hunsinger and others. IT includes six parts: (1) Introduction; (2) Evangelical critiques; (3) "Realism and Foundationalism; (4) "The Bible & the Church;" (5) "Theology and the Christian Life;" (6) "Putting the Postliberal Model to Work." The last part includes a panel discussion with Lindbeck, Hunsinger, McGrath & Fackre. There is really only two negative critiques by McGrath and Volf. I was disappointed by McGrath's essay, but I was impressed by Volf's essay. I think it is a more effective critique. This is despite my being an admirer of McGrath's work. I was even dissapointed with his comments in the panel discussion.

A common theme in these discussions is a conversation with the project of postliberalism as connected with George Lindbeck's The Nature of Doctrine. Lindbeck is surprised by this since he says the true founder of postsecularism is Hans Frei. Another important Postsecularist not part of the conversation was Stanley Hauerwas. The occasion for this book was a conversation held at Wheaton College dedicated to discussing postliberalism and evangelicalism.  This conversation concentrates much on a critique of foundationalism.

George Lindbeck begins the panel discussion my listing six points. First, he thinks comparing evangelicals and postliberals is "like comparing apples and oranges. Postliberals happen to be a collection of individuals engaged in what science calls a research program, whereas evangelicals are members of communities, institutions, movements that are historically associated with inerrancy controversies on the one hand and conversionist revivalism on the other" (246).

Second, the project of postliberals is "an attempt to recover premodern scriptural interpretation in contemporary form" (246). This can be taken in a couple different ways. First, it can operate on the basis of multiple senses of Scripture. For example, the five senses of Thomas Aquinas. Second, the Scriptures are a book of the Church. It needs to be interpreted in the context of the Church and Christian tradition. Another important implication is the importance of community. This would also urge a resistance to excessive modern individualism.

He points out that this research program "overlaps . . . with goals that a number of evangelicals have" (247). He suggests recovering "both the Reformation and Catholic heritages" (247). In other words, it aligns with attempts of evangelicals to renew the faith by retrieving the Catholic tradition.

In his fourth point he seems to respond to McGrath's critique about a lack of substantial theology coming from this project. He thinks this critique is "misplaced." He notes, "It's misplaced because the research program is one regarding methods of reading Scripture, not specifically regarding the development of any single theological outlook. If I do theology, it's Lutheran theology in the Lutheran confessional tradition" (247).

In his fifth point he describes his realization of his differences with evangelicals in his interactions with them. He knew it before, but it became more obvious at the conference. Lindbeck notes, "I'm much more creedal than most of the people here. I place more emphasis on creeds, confessions and dogmas. I'm sacramentally realistic in a way that free church people are not. I have much higher ecclesiology than most of the people here" (247). I think this is changing with evangelicals. More evangelicals are seeing a need for creeds and confessions. They are also drawn to liturgy and Catholic tradition. Many are trying to create a sacramental view of life.

In his last point, he notes that Hans Frei is the true founder of postsecularism.

There are many excellent essays in this volume. I especially enjoyed the many different critiques of foundationalism. Some of the essays responded to what they thought were misinterpretations. For example, Jeffrey Hensley showed how postliberalism does not have to be interpreted an anti-realists. George Hunsinger presents an evaluation of the debate between Carl Henry and Hans Frei. He shows how evangelicals and postliberals can learn from each other. It is hoped that this conversation will help both evangelicals and postliberals to understand each other better.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Who Needs a Liberal Education?

Gilbert Meilaender, "Who needs a Liberal Education?," The New Atlantis, Number 41, Winter 2014, pp. 101-108.

Who needs a Liberal Arts Education?

The main purpose of this article is to argue for the importance of a liberal arts education. Meilander, however, suggests that there are correct and incorrect ways to defend a liberal arts education. Quite surprisingly, he argues against having a core curricula and argues for specialization. Why would this author argue in this way? In addition, he seeks to address the question who needs a liberal education.

One argument the author is making that some of the things that are defended by "educational traditionalists and defenders of the liberal arts" are not necessarily good for a liberal arts education. One of these things is the defense of core curricula. Another is the "bemoaning of the rise of specialization among faculty" (2). Another argument the author makes is that the "notion of 'interdisciplinary' study is misguided" (3). In addition, the author argues room must be made for the natural sciences. Lastly, the author concludes, "it may simply be true that education in the liberal arts is not intended for or needed by many students" (6).

The evidence the author uses in this article to support his arguments are student indebtedness, a definition of liberal arts, disciplinary knowledge, student interest, and vocation. He notes that many students do not want to be in these general education courses. In addition, their "energies are focused mostly on other aspects of the curriculum" (2). The author actually thinks we should have few required courses. He thinks that simply adding educational courses to students coming to college to earn a degree in business, nursing, education, or some other professional field does not make it a liberal arts education. He defines the liberal arts as being free. He notes, "they are free in the sense that they serve no goal external to themselves" (2). In other words, a liberal arts education is not training for a job. Neither are they to make us "good citizens." The author thinks the true goal of a liberal arts education is "an openness to what transcends us" (6). It is a freedom to pursue truth and wisdom.

What are the implications of the article? Should we give up general education courses? Should we give up interdisciplinary studies? The author thinks that the future liberal arts students should "look for schools where the specialized academic disciplines are valued and cultivated" (3). In addition, he argues that "no one's knowledge is narrower than the non-specialist, who knows a very little about a very lot" (3). These words seems quite strong. Does this condemn all interdisciplinary studies? Is there a difference between disciplinary studies at undergraduate and graduate levels? The author believes we get at truth from a disciplinary perspective. It is specialists in different disciplines in conversation about truth:

"But why do we need students of philosophy, literature, history, or religion? What is their study for? The point of this sort of education is simply that we want to understand ourselves and to know the truth about human life, whether about individual lives as we might examine them in literature or philosophy, or life in society as we might examine it in political theory or sociology. To be sure, an education in the liberal arts will sometimes be more about seeking than finding this truth. There are no guarantees. At its best, however, it draws us into a centuries-old conversation among specialists--scholars from various disciplines, each providing us a different angle from which to examine what it means to be human" (3).

Meilaender makes a strong case for his argument. He defends a liberal arts education, but, maybe, not in the way we would expect. Not everyone will want to follow his suggestions. Do we really want few required courses? Do we really want no general education requirements? Is career training really the purpose of education?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rational Faith: Catholic Responses to Reformed Epistemology

Rational Faith: Catholic Responses to Reformed Epistemology, edited by Linda Zagzebski. University of Notre Dame Press, 1993. 290 pages. ISBN: 0-268-01644-5.

A popular new movement in epistemology arguing for the rationality of religious belief is "Reformed Epistemology." It is called this because of it's origin in Calvinist theology. Some of the major thinkers are Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, George Mavrodes, and others. One of the key texts is Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. This was published in 1983. Plantinga would later revise his ideas in a later book, Warrant and Proper Function.

Reformed Epistemology has been largely unnoticed by Roman Catholic Philosophers. This neglect is addressed in this book: Rational Faith: Catholic Responses to Reformed Epistemology. The contributors to this volume include John Greco, Patrick Lee, Ralph McInerny, Hugo Meynell, Philip L. Quinn, James Ross, Thomas Sullivan, Linda Zagzebski, and John Zeis. All of the contributors are professional philosophers at some of the leading universities: Fordham University, University of Notre Dame, University of Calgary, and others. The authors show a firm grasp of Reformed Epistemology and its contributors. They do a good job in critiquing their works and showing problems with it. They also address the issue of natural theology. Reformed Epistemology and Calvinist theology seems to argue against natural theology. Catholic philosophy has defended it historically. The contributors of this volume argue for the necessity and the usefulness of natural theology.

There are many things I like about this book. It provides a good commentary of Reformed Epistemology. It shows where they agree with it and where they disagree. They provide arguments for at least the usefulness of natural theology. The authors seem to be engaging Plantinga, Wolterstorff, and others in a respectful way. It does not seem they are setting up straw men for them to knock down. The Catholic philosophers do not agree with each other on every point. Some seem closer to Reformed Epistemology than others. Some seem to be foundationalists, while others do not.

For example, "both foundationalism and evidentialism are strongly defended" in the paper by Hugo Meynell, "Faith, Foundationalism, and Nicholas Wolterstorff." Thomas D. Sullivan disagrees with more moderately with Reformed Epistemology. The editor summarizing Sullivan's paper notes, "Sullivan agrees with Plantinga that believers are right to refuse to pare down confidence in a putative revelation in the face of unanswered objections. But his justification for such resolute belief is different from Plantinga's. The attempt to justify absolute conviction cannot be made successfully on Plantinga's account of warrant, Sullivan argues, but must instead be justified by reference to certain functions of the will that make revelation both reasonable and objective. Sullivan answers objections from the rationalist and the evidentialist in the course of defending a position similar to John Henry Newman" (8). This idea is that faith is caused by both the mind and the will. It is similar to the position of Thomas Aquinas.

Other contributors speak of the ethics of belief. According to their interpretation of Plantinga, he seems to suggest that in the right situation and proper machinery, belief just happens. It is naturally implanted in us. Patrick Lee argues "that the function that reasons or evidence play in a reasonable act of belief is morally responsible act or that one morally ought to believe" (8). This seem to suggest that we have responsibility in believing or not believing.

I appreciated James Ross' reflections on those who do not believe: "But it is a harsh view that those who do not believe that God exists (and accept revelation) are caused not to do so by their unrighteousness and that by that unrighteousness have wills opposed to God and deserve so as to deserve damnation. That seems totally implausible, especially when a kind of atheistic naturalism can be as well warranted by the means of rational reliance (natural faith) as the right belief, since warrant from the aims of the rational appetite can extend to what is not true as well as to what is true. . . Still, whether one's unbelief amounts to a will opposed to God cannot be determined from the externals of unbelief alone but only from the inner heart visible to God. So we are not entitled to attribute unrighteousness to unbelievers from their unbelief" (247). These are words that I heartily commend. Too often we attribute evil motives to those who disagree with us. There is a difference between faith and reason; however, they are compatible. We should do our best to respect the beliefs of others as we witness to the Christian faith.

In "Religious Knowledge and the Virtues of the Mind" Linda Zagzebski discusses three characteristics of Reformed Epistemology she disagrees with and provides characteristics that an epistemology must have to be considered knowledge. One objection she has is that it is "belief-based rather than person-or virtue-based"(222). Other features she disagrees with are they are based on "externalism-nonvoluntarism" and "individualism. She seems to be arguing that the believer has no control over what she believes. For example she notes, "Plantinga stresses that we do not decide what to believe. Typically, he says, I simply find myself with the appropriate belief"(203). The other objection is that it is individualistically based versus community based. She argues that Catholics look at revelation as something given to the church and not the individual. One would find warrant within the church. Other authors see the faith being confirmed in living it out in Christian practices.

Rational Faith provides an excellent critique of Reformed Epistemology. It shows some of its weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses have been addressed in more recent works. Reformed Epistemology still seems to have many followers today. This book does a good job in introducing us to a conversation taking place between Catholic and Protestant Reformed philosophers on the rationality of religious belief.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Imagining the Kingdom

James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. Baker Academic, 2013. 198 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8010-3578-4.

Imagining the Kingdom is Smith's long-awaited second volume of the "Cultural Literary series. In the first volume, Desiring the Kingdom, Smith showed the importance of desire or our loves in shaping what we do. In this volume he continues this conversation with an emphasis on the imagination and poetics. In addition, he shows how we are shaped either by secular or religious liturgies.

Smith explains how the series has changed in intention. He originally was writing to scholars and the first volume turned out to be more of a hybrid, written both to scholars and practitioners, or ordinary readers. He decided to keep this focus for the rest of the series. This volume could have been the first volume because of the emphasis on the imagination. This is thinking on a subconscious level. It is our perception on what causes human flourishing.

Smith shows how we are shaped by our worship. We are repeating the story of God in worship. He gives an example of a man who has been shaped by confession and worship in the liturgy. At a particular time his son has departed from the right path. He comes to the father asking for forgiveness. Because of the father experiencing God's forgiveness in worship many times, he forgives his son. Smith says the worship of God is an end in itself. It is also connected to mission or our being sent out to the world.

Smith does a good job in explaining the thought of Merleau-Ponty and Bourdieu. He has mentioned them in other works and I was interested in knowing more about this work. He gives an excellent commentary on their work and how it applies to the emphasis on the body, practices, imagination, and thick, particularized Christianity. They authors argue that we are more shaped by bodily actions. They also emphasize the importance of story.

Smith says that "the focus of this second volume is to home in on these themes, further exploring the shape of liturgical anthropology in order to articulate a Christian philosophy of action that (1) recognizes the nonconscious, pretheoretical 'drivers' of our action and behavior, centered in what I'll call the imagination; (2) accounts for the bodily formation of our habituated orientation to the world; and thus (3) appreciates the centrality of story as rooted in this 'bodily basis of meaning' and as a kind of pretheoretical compass that guides and generates human action. In short, the way to the heart is through the body, and the way into the body is through story" (14). This leads to his last chapter on worship. How intellect and desires are shaped by the bodily actions of worship. He provides good insights on how tradition liturgies shape us into God's image. It is important how we worship. I like this affirmation of Christian liturgy and how it tells a story. We need to be more intentional on how we worship.

The second volume is as good if not better than the first volume. Smith seems to be still working on these ideas. There is much to like about this project. I like how he corrects the over emphasis on the intellect and how we are shaped more by our desires or loves as taught by St. Augustine. I look forward for volume three.