Jamie Smith shows us that what we love drives what we make.

Professor, philosopher, author, and friend of Praxis James K. A. Smith shows the linkage between the "liturgies" (rhythms, rituals, and practices) of our lives, our imagination, and what we create. We are what we love; we might not love what we think; we make what we want. 

He argues that worship is the "calibration technology" that God has provided to shape our hearts and minds to love what is good, and therefore to create what is good. 

This will connect closely to the next session, where Praxis Founder and CEO will argue that the imagination of the founders of a generation's startups determines what that generation will stand for.

Jamie is a professor of philosophy! So this talk and discussion will be more philosophical than even the first two in the course. But it is so important to the process of creating an alternative imagination for entrepreneurship.



Questions

 

1. Christians often talk about the "connection between faith and work." Jamie talks here, however, of the "connection between worship and work." Have you ever thought about this topic—that is, the relationship between what you want and what you create? Has his particular focus on love and desire changed your perspective at all? Why or why not?

This question is especially relevant to the world of startups, because founders truly are "makers" of products and services and organizations.

Still, this is a broad question that can be applied far beyond the world of startups. In a less entrepreneurial setting you could broaden the question's wording to "the relationship between what you want and what you do for work." Or you could focus the question on what participants would envision creating in a venture (the products, the services, the organization, the culture) and how that is connected to what they personally love and want for themselves and the world.

 

2. He gives the example of the Russian filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky, whose film Stalker contains "The Room" that gives you whatever you want. Imagine placing your entrepreneurial "wants" inside this room. What are some of them—not what you think you want, or what you're supposed to want, or what you want to want, but what you really do want?

This could be a very self-revealing question, so set expectations depending on the trust level in the group. As usual with a question like this, you may choose to go first, to model the kind of reflection you're looking for. Answering this question shouldn't feel live public confession of sin; you should expect (and encourage) that the entrepreneurial "wants" are a mixture of things.

If it helps them get started, consider having people begin with the "not" parts of the question: to describe their view of "what [I'm} supposed to want" and "what [I] want to want."

 

3. Jamie speaks of taking a "liturgical audit" of your life—an assessment of your daily rhythms, routines, and rituals—for the purpose of determining what your life is about. What powerful liturgies or practices do you engage in at work, at home, and in your free time, and what are they about?

Remember, these should not all be explicitly religious. Family, exercise, reading, TV, commuting, sleep ... these are all rituals and rhythms that in some sense speak to what your life is "about."

 

4. What liturgies or practices do you need in your life, in order to learn to love well? How might you order your life so that you habitually want the Kingdom of God?

Encourage people to keep the list simple (one or two items) and doable.

 

5. What is the world's narrative of entrepreneurship, and what liturgies and practices form us into that narrative? On the other hand, what might be the kingdom of God's narrative of entrepreneurship, and what liturgies and practices could form us into that alternate one?

What liturgies and practices form us into the world's narrative? Consider things like how entrepreneurship is regarded in the popular culture; public discussions of valuations, acquisitions, and exits; the pitch deck and process; the capital raising process; the key moves in typical success stories; etc.


Additional Readings

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of HabitCh 1: You Are What You Love: To Worship is Human

Saint Augustine, Late Have I Loved Thee: Selected Writings of Saint Augustine on Love"Preface" and "Selected Sermons"

James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural FormationCh 1: Homo Liturgicus: The Human Person as Lover


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