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James K.A. Smith discusses cultural liturgies, secularization at First Mondays visit

October 1, 2013

“What if human beings are defined not just by what they know or what they believe, but what they love?” “What does it mean when we describe ours as a ‘secular’ age?”

These are the questions that Professor James K.A. Smith will wrestle with when he visits Dordt College on Monday, October 7, as part of the First Mondays Speaker Series. Smith, well-known for his works in philosophy, theology, and cultural criticism, will discuss “Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Liturgies” at 11 a.m. in the B.J. Haan Auditorium.

Exploring what he calls a “liturgical reading of culture” that includes an explanation of “secular liturgies,” Smith will reframe what he believes is at stake in Christian worship.

At 7:30 p.m. in the Ribbens Academic Complex classroom CL 1144/1148, Smith will present “The Secular is Haunted: Inhabiting our Cross-Pressured Present,” tackling what we mean when we describe ours as a “secular” age.

Drawing from literature, pop culture, and his analyses of Charles Taylor, Smith will argue that secularization is “less a triumph of ‘de-religionizing,’” and is more a “mode of believing otherwise, an explosion of believings.”

Smith will also examine how “the contested nature of belief in our ‘secular’ age is better accounted for by Christian than other naturalistic explanations.”

A professor of philosophy at Calvin College, Smith holds the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview. He also teaches in the Department of Congregational and Ministry Studies and is a research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Smith is the author of many books, including Letters to a Young Calvinist; Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Formation; and Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church. A regular contributor to Books and Culture, Perspectives, Relevant, and other magazines, Smith also speaks nationally and internationally.

The First Mondays Speaker Series brings opinion-leaders, writers, and thinkers to campus to challenge students, faculty, and staff to stretch their imaginations, grow in understanding, act boldly, and re-creatively serve God’s kingdom. It is sponsored by the Andreas Center for Reformed Scholarship and Service.

Both presentations are free and open to the public.

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