Desiring the Kingdom

“We absorb rival gospels as habits. And so we act towards, are pulled towards, a rival vision of what we think the good life is. And this isn’t because we are intellectually convinced. It’s because we are habitually conscripted by practices that work on us unconsciously. So through a vast repertoire of what we might call secular liturgies, we end up becoming quietly assimilated to the Earthly City of disordered loves governed by self-love and the pursuit of domination. That’s Augustine’s City of God. That’s the entire summary of his analysis of the Earthly City.

“So we toodle off to church or Bible study week after week comforting ourselves that we are devoted to, as Jeremiah says in chapter seven, “the temple of the Lord,” but then don’t realize what he says later in Jeremiah seven, that we spend the rest of the week making bread for idols. Because we have failed to appreciate the religious nature of some of those “secular” – seemingly secular – practices. So we become the kind of people that are inclined to a sort of low-grade socially acceptable greed that makes us remarkably tolerant of the exploitation of the global poor. It’s not because you showed up at the mall and somebody gave you an argument and convinced you that that was okay. It’s because you’ve been living immersed in ritual practices that have unconsciously trained you to imagine the world in that way.” — Redeeming Ritual: Penance Takes Practicem by James K.A. Smith, about 21:40 in

This is a rough transcription with edits for readability. I look forward to reading Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom.