Archives For James K.A. Smith

“Elegance is inferior to virtue.”
– Mary Shelley,
who was born on this day, 1797

Poem of the Day:
By Seamus Heaney
***Plus, 9 other poems read by the poet, who died on this day one year ago.

Kindle Ebook Deal of the Day:
Letters to a Young Calvinist
by James K.A. Smith
Only $2.99!!!

*** NOTE: This stated price is for the United States. Unfortunately, this offer may or may not be available in other countries. Sorry!

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The Wake Up Call – August 30, 2014


We Are All Secular

How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor

James K.A. Smith

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Brad Fruhauff
James Smith sets out to accomplish two main things in his short book. First: to paraphrase and condense Charles Taylor’s magisterial 2007 A Secular Age as “an homage and a portal” to the larger book. Second: to translate some of Taylor’s philosophical musings into practical questions for reflection for Christians in ministry or leadership contexts. It’s important to keep in mind that, unlike some accounts of secularism, this isn’t primarily about disarming the logic of secularity or explaining why the New Atheists are wrong. Nor is Smith about to use to Taylor to sound an altar call back to some foundational truth of Christianity as an antidote to secularity. It is neither polemic nor didactic in that way. It is, however, always intriguing and often illuminating. Thus it succeeds as an “homage.”

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A great conversation with James K.A. Smith about his new book on Charles Taylor:


How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
James K.A. Smith
Paperback:  Eerdmans, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
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James K.A. Smith talks about his newest book
(which is one of my best books of the first half of 2013)

Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.
James K.A. Smith

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

*** Other Books by James K.A. Smith

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Tapping into the “Aesthetic Know-How” of the Worshiping Bodies

A Feature Review of

Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.

James K.A. Smith

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed By Jasmine Smart


In 2010, Christianity Today awarded Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation a book award for the category of Theology/Ethics. Englewood Review of Books, similarly, awarded DTK as the “best theology book” of 2009. With these accolades, it is not surprising that the second volume of this three-part series of “cultural liturgies” has been highly anticipated.


Smith aims to be both accessible and scholarly in Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works, but recognizes doing so may get him critics from both camps: “Such is the fate of a hybrid book: too many footnotes and references to German philosophers to qualify as ‘popular’; not enough footnotes and too many creative asides to be properly ‘academic’” (Imagining the Kingdom, xi). Originally, ITK was supposed to be aimed at a more specialized audience of scholars, but thankfully for us non-specialized readers, he has changed his plans and will continue to go the hybrid route for volume two and three.


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The Wake Up CallThe Wake Up Call –
26 February 2013


Like the smell of strong coffee wafting down the hall, we offer a few book-related thoughts and stories to jumpstart your day…

*** Receive an email with The Wake Up Call (and daily ERB posts) in your inbox each morning! Sign up for The Daily Book Morsel



One of the best books of the year so far is Jamie Smith’s IMAGINING THE KINGDOM: HOW WORSHIP WORKS…
Enter now to win a copy of this wonderful book on our Facebook page!!!


Paraclete Press is running a huge sale on their ebooks!!!
Ebooks from writers like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Scot McKnight, mostly $1.99 and $2.99!!!


The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather in spite of ourselves.
Victor Hugo, born on this day 1802
*** Get a FREE Kindle Ebook of Hugo’s Les Miserables
(This is an somewhat abridged edition, but has garnered mostly positive reviews…)


Book News:

Thanks be to God for this new day, may it be full of beauty and grace!

The Wake Up Call image via WikiMedia Commons

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Our most anticipated new book release this week is:

Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.

James K.A. Smith

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

This is the second book in the Cultural Liturgies Series.  The first book Desiring the Kingdom was one of our 2009 Englewood Honor Books.  [ Read our Review…]

*** Other Books by James K.A. Smith

Excerpt available through Google Books…
(Sorry, it won’t let us embed the excerpt right now…)

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James K.A. Smith - The Fall of InterpretationRecovering from Fundamentalism

A review of

The Fall of Interpretation:

Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic.

James K.A. Smith.

Paperback, 2nd Edition: Baker Academic, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Shaun C. Brown

James K.A. Smith is one of the most prolific Christian philosophers writing today.  His writing ranges from works on Pentecostalism (Thinking in Tongues) and the Reformed tradition (Letters to a Young Calvinist) to Radical Orthodoxy (Introducing Radical Orthodoxy) and Postmodern philosophy (Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?).  Smith’s first book, The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic, originally written as his master’s thesis at the Institute for Christian Studies in 1995 and published in 2000, has now been re-released in a second edition.  The second edition includes two major additions, “Reconsiderations: An Introduction to the Second Edition” and an additional chapter.

Smith says,

The Fall of Interpretation is, in a sense, a brief on behalf of particularity, an affirmation of difference and plurality as goods inherent in God’s good creation.  It is a celebration of the conditions of creaturehood—conditions that include and demand the inescapability of interpretation (2).

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Review of

Letters to a Young Calvinist:
An Invitation to
the Reformed Tradition
James K. A. Smith.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Jasmine Wilson.

In the same year as publishing a book detailing the benefits of pentecostal theology (Thinking in Tongues, reviewed here), very few people could write a book introducing and praising the Reformed tradition, but James K.A. Smith has done just that.

Letters to a Young Calvinist is a brief primer introducing readers to the Reformed tradition, and extending an invitation to those who are already a bit familiar but perhaps still on the fence about it. It is written pastorally as a compilation of letters to a fictional young man representing those who are just becoming inculcated into the Reformed tradition.

In my Christian high school I was taught the theology of TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints). When I decided to attend Calvin College, a college associated with the Christian Reformed Church (where Smith also happens to teach), I appreciated TULIP and felt I would be well-prepared for the type of conversations that would take place on campus.

Instead, TULIP was never even mentioned.  Phrases like, “practice Shalom,” “be agents of renewal,” “There is not a square inch of the world that God does not call mine!” etc. were the common language of the college culture.

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James K.A. Smith Summarizes and Critiques
James Davison Hunter’s TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Many of us are more indebted to James Davison Hunter than we might realize. His 1991 book, Culture Wars, has been a lens through which many have understood the dynamics of American politics, even if they have never read it. An astute and influential observer of American culture, particularly the role of (and transformation of) religion in the public sphere, Hunter is a sociologist without the usual allergy to normative language. And while he’s never taken sides in the culture wars (indeed, despite the way it is cited by both friends and detractors, Culture Wars was pointing out the futility of conducting such battles), Hunter has not shied away from prescription rooted in description and analysis. Thus, his later book The Death of Character unapologetically laments the loss of a unified moral ethos in American culture that undercuts the possibility of true character formation. Although Hunter’s writing can sometimes tend toward the curmudgeonly end of the jeremiad spectrum, he’s nonetheless an important cultural critic.

His latest offering is a logical trajectory from this earlier work. To Change the World is explicitly addressed to Christians in the United States and is his most unabashedly prescriptive and theological work to date. It is also one of the most important works on Christianity and culture since Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Until Justice and Peace Embrace. One could hope that To Change the World might finally displace the lazy hegemony of Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, even if I think Hunter’s book might have a couple of similar faults.

Read the full piece:

To Change the World:
The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.

James Davison Hunter.
Hardback: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Lauren Winner reviews Ernesto Cardenal’s

In the 1960s and 1970s, Catholic priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal lived and worked among the campesinos of Solentiname, a 36-island archipelago in Lake Nicaragua. On Sundays, the community gathered for worship. In lieu of a sermon, Cardenal led the men and women in a conversation about the gospel passage. Cardenal recorded many of those conversations and published them as The Gospel in Solentiname. In a 1998 essay, Timothy Gorringe points to these dialogues as a good example of a more widespread phenomenon: “Cardenal’s Bible studies are the products of a community,” writes Gorringe, “which believes that Jesus is the incarnate, risen and ascended Lord, who encounters us both in the Eucharist and in the struggle for justice. Whilst recognizing that everything is political, the members of the community do not think politics is everything.”

Read the full piece:

The Gospel in Solentiname.
Ernesto Cardenal
Paperback (Reissue Edition): Orbis Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]