Title: You Are What You Love
Author: James K. A. Smith
Genre: Non-fiction 264.001
Publisher/Date: Brazos Press/2016
Dates read: 8/12/17 – 9/16/17
“Who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. We may not realize, however, the ways our hearts are taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. In You Are What You Love, a popular speaker and award-winning author James K. A. Smith helps us recognize the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices.” This blurb is from the back cover.
I quote it because the book is hard to read and even harder to review. Our pastor decided to do a series based upon the book You are What You Love. He did a great job in getting the ideas across to us through his weekly messages. Through his insight of his material, his gift of summary, and a couple of short videos, he delivered the messages in good order.
For example, one Sunday we got to see in a video about the Backwards Brain Bicycle. It seems a fellow named Destin Sandlin created a bicycle with an important hitch. When you turned the handlebars right the front wheel turns left, and vice versa. He went around the country, encouraging people to ride the bicycle. People found that it takes practice to master the crazily-designed bike. Little kids, like Sandlin’s son who had already learned to ride a regular bike, seemed to catch on right away. It only took him two weeks to master the “backwards bike”. Adults had the hardest time, simply because riding a regular bike, had become second nature to them. “Only with extraordinary effort did Sandlin learn to ride the bike -- after eight months of practice! Old habits die hard.”
The idea behind this metaphor is to show that a person who wants to become more Christ-like in their actions can do so by practice.
St. Paul puts it this way. To put on Christ is to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. See Romans 13:14 in the Holy Bible. These virtues take practice, especially if you haven’t mastered them by the time you’re an adult. Spending an hour and a half on Sunday morning in church is not enough time to change the habits of our hearts that are immersed in our daily, secular activities.
Another reviewer puts it this way. “In this wise and provocative book, Jamie Smith has the audacity to ask the question: Do we love what we think we love? It is not a comfortable question if we strive to answer it honestly. Smith presses us to do so and then shows us the renewed and abundant life that awaits Christians whose habits and practices – whose liturgies of living – work to open our hearts to our God and our neighbors.