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2011 Seminars

From Worldview to Worship: The Liturgical Turn in Cultural Theory
June 20 - July 8, 2011

Directed by Dr. James K.A. Smith (Calvin College)

Funding provided by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Seminar Description

"Religion” has received increased attention from both social scientists and journalists over the past decade. But the phenomenon of religion has also been reconceived: rather than focusing simply on beliefs and doctrines, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers of religion are increasingly attentive to the role of practice and ritual as fundamental to religious identity. So rather than merely distilling the “worldview” of religious communities, scholars exegete the understanding implicit in worship practices. Thus one could speak of something like a “liturgical turn” in "cultural theory” –an appreciation for the formative role of cultural practices in constituting communities of meaning.  This can be seen in the philosophical work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Charles Taylor; the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu and Christian Smith; research in social psychology as seen in the work of Timothy D. Wilson and John A. Bargh; and the theological developments in the work of Stanley Hauerwas, Graham Ward, and Craig Dykstra. This has important implications both for the study of religion, including Christianity, as well as for critical reflection on faithful religious practice.

About the Director

Jamie Smith is Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College where he also teaches in the Department of Congregational and Ministry Studies and serves as a Research Fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Trained in phenomenology and philosophical theology, Smith's most recent work has focused on cultural criticism, philosophy & liturgy, and philosophy of the social sciences. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Baker Academic, 2009) and Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy (Eerdmans, 2010). His more popular writing has appeared in magazines such as Christian Century, First Things, Christianity Today, and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. He also serves as Executive Director of the Society of Christian Philosophers and is editor of the "Church and Postmodern Culture" series for Baker Academic.

Application Information

Applicant Information, including who may apply and how to apply can be found here. The application deadline was January 14, 2011. We are no longer accepting applications.

2011 Seminars Index

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