You Are What You Love

Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash

Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

Our habits shape a lot of our behavior, and it is hard to break bad habits and establish good ones. In You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith explains why it is so hard to simply think our way to new ways of living.

Smith argues that the end to which we are oriented (and we are all oriented toward some vision of “the good life”) is not primarily something we think about, but what we desire — we are motivated by a vision of flourishing that we crave at a visceral level. This is our vision of what will deliver happiness, of what society should look like, and how the world ought to be. So Descartes was wrong in the end: We are not defined simply by what we think — in many ways, we are what we love.

There are competing visions of the good life. We may think that we wish to seek God and live as kind, virtuous, loving people, but we may very well be worshiping what many Christians call false idols and others call false paths to happiness. Often we follow these hollow desires unconsciously, but we can see them reflected in our daily habits and in our environment.

To be the person we wish to be, therefore, we need to be aware of our unconscious desires and the cultural practices (Smith calls them cultural liturgies) that may be shaping them….

If we wish to break away from the insecurities, materialism, and emptiness of consumerism and our throwaway culture, we therefore must think about our daily rituals and habits so that we can reorient our hearts toward the end we truly value.

This transformation cannot occur in isolation. If we wish to live a life animated by love, to live in communion with God and others, our relationships and communal spaces will play a big role in establishing these habits and reorienting our hearts. They will shape our imaginations and unconscious thinking.

Read the full article here.