Provocation: Cultural Analysis w/ James K.A. Smith’s “You Are What You Love”

I read James K.A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom during the winter break of 2013, and it transformed the way I thought about my teaching. My way my classes look and feel are a direct result of me trying to apply that book’s insights.

I revisited the central thesis of that book yesterday via a lecture he gave at Berry College, and I wanted to think about how I could use it for not just the structure of my class but also the kind of analysis I ask students to do.

Here are the basic premises of Smith’s talk:

1. Human beings are defined by what they love/desire/crave, not what they know/believe.

2. We were created to love/desire/crave God, but because of sin our desires are often misdirected.

3. Smith claims that our hearts get desire-training from liturgies, which he defines as love-shaping rituals. They can be either secular or spiritual.

4. These liturgies are often embodied and non-rationalistic. They are not pitched as worldviews. They are story-laden practices that condition us to accept a particular vision fo the good life.

5. Proper cultural analysis should ask the question, “What does this institution/art work want me to love?”

Here are some applications for my British Literature I class…

Continue reading “Provocation: Cultural Analysis w/ James K.A. Smith’s “You Are What You Love””

Provocation: Cultural Analysis w/ James K.A. Smith’s “You Are What You Love”

Weekly Provocation: “What’s the Point of a Professor?”

On Sunday, May 9th, Mark Bauerlein (a senior English professor at Emory) wrote an op-ed for The New York Times provocatively titled, “What’s the Point of a Professor?” His answer? Not much nowadays.

The article’s weird argument is summed up by the ambiguous picture that accompanied it (shown below). Students are traversing their way across a sea of (what I assume are) professors. One is walking. Another is crowd-surfing. Another is mounting. This doesn’t look like a picture of what Bauerlein describes. It’s certainly not a picture of what he prescribes. Maybe it’s simultaneous fantasy and nightmare: walking on = bad and crowd-surfing = just fine. (But why do all the professors look like they have fleas?)

The reaction I saw to this was predominantly negative, but the article does occasion a very good question: what is the proper role of a professor in the education of a student?

Continue reading “Weekly Provocation: “What’s the Point of a Professor?””

Weekly Provocation: “What’s the Point of a Professor?”

Weekly Provocation: Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams

Over the next couple of months, I’ll try to post something at least once a week that’s making me think long and hard about my teaching. I encountered the clip below back in March, but it’s still gnawing at me.

Seth Godin is by trade a marketer, but I dig him (I write more about him here and here). Here’s his TedTalk on the problems with (public, K-12) education.

Weekly Provocation: Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams