Superstition, the Liturgy of Social Media, Chicken Sexers & Judaism


The best bits from this week: impacting excerpts that influence our worship and discipleship…

rabbits foot“If we participate in worship and simply hope that our being there will cause God to bless us, what we are doing in church really amounts to practicing something other than Christianity. We are practicing superstition, or hypocrisy— in which we sometimes even intentionally learn to say things to God that we do not mean. Spiritually speaking, the sin of hypocrisy is one of the most vexing antidotes to formation. In hypocrisy, our external actions are cut off from internal attitudes. We may even become well practiced at not meaning what we say or do.” (from James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): How Worship Works)

Do I shape my image to appear like God, or allow God to shape me into His image? 

fb“Users [of social media] can severely underestimate the (de) formative power of cultural artifacts, approaching them with just a little bit too much confidence, assured that they are masters of the technology when it might be the technology that is slowly mastering them. Social media— despite the good uses to which it can be put— might be just this sort of disordering liturgy. Signing up for Twitter or Facebook is not a neutral decision to simply employ a “medium”: it is to insert oneself in an environment of practice that inculcates in us certain habits that then shape our orientation to the world— indeed, they make our worlds.” (from James K. A. Smith, Imagining the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): How Worship Works, 2013)

In speaking of ways the Church and Christian University should work hand-in-hand to nurture and disciple the next generation of believers to experience and act out the way of Christ as second nature…

chick“These perceptual skills can be astonishingly subtle. Many chicken farms employ professional chicken sexers. They look at newly hatched chicks and tell whether the chicks are male or female even though, to the untrained eye, the chicks all look the same. Experienced sexers can look at eight hundred to one thousand chicks an hour and determine their gender with 99 percent accuracy. How do they figure it out? They couldn’t tell you. There is just something different about the males and females, and they know it when they see it.” ( David Brooks, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, 2011)

Consistent, disciplined practice will help the heart catch up…

jew“Judaism stresses that if you begin with the right actions, you’ll come upon the right beliefs; Christianity works the other way around. In the Talmud, there is a passage that’s considered fundamental in Jewish education, ‘Let a man busy himself with observing the commandments and customs even if his heart is not in them, for eventually the hand will teach the heart’.” (Scott-Martin Kosofsky, The Book of Customs: A Complete Handbook for the Jewish Year, 2004)

Everyone Worships Something


So…lots of reading these days on the topic of Worship. Which is probably a good thing, since that’s the area in which I’m called to lead and disciple others. As this unfolds, I’ll periodically post some the best bits. This one left me both convicted and breathless:

David Foster Wallace had this to say to a graduating class at Kenyon College in 2005:

In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship— be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles— is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things— if they are where you tap real meaning in life— then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.

Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already— it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power— you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay.

Worship your intellect, being seen as smart— you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

Quoted in…Smith, James K. A. (2013-02-15). Imagining the Kingdom (Cultural Liturgies): How Worship Works (Kindle Locations 4764-4766). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.