We are best catechized by our senses. We learn from parables and fairy tales, stories with the same homespun elements in infinite arrangements that we come to know by heart.
It’s why I so often say that it is art and story that drew me back to the practice of faith, not theology.
“Liturgies work affectively and aesthetically,” writes Image’s new editor in chief, James K. A. Smith in his book, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.
“They grab hold of our guts through the power of image, story, and metaphor. That’s why the most powerful liturgies are attuned to our embodiment; they speak to our senses; they get under our skin.”
Smith, who is also a philosophy professor at Calvin College, argues that traditional Christian worship re-orients our hearts toward eternity, while so much contemporary worship only apes popular culture, with churches designed to feel like secular spaces, arenas, malls and coffee shops.
Smith’s work has always moved me, not just as a person of faith but as a writer and artist, making me more aware of how art bends my internal compass, one way or another.
Now that Smith is editor in chief of Image, we’re working together to draw attention to the intersection of faith and the arts.
- You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith
- How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K.A. Smith
- On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real World Spirituality for Restless Hearts by James K.A. Smith
- “James K.A. Smith’s Theological Journey” in America: The Jesuit Review
- Sick Pilgrim
- US Catholic
- Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship in Letters by Jessica Mesman and Amy Andrews
- Caryll Houselander
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.