I offered up a quote from James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom the other day and, last night, finished making my way through the book.
After a discussion of aims, intentions, and targets, he talks a bit about practices – the things we do that actually shape our character and move us toward an ultimate goal or destination, whether we recognize it or not. Smith suggests a “Practices Audit,” where we ask whether there might be “ritual forces in our culture that we perhaps naively immerse ourselves in – and are thus formed by – that, when we consider them more closely, are pointed at some ultimate end?” (84).
Here are some of the questions he offers to prompt this audit:
What are some of the most significant habits and practices that really shape your actions and attitude – what you think and what you do?
What does your time look like? What practices are you regularly immersed in each week? How much time is spent doing different sorts of activities?
What do you think are the most important ritual forces in your life? And if you were honest with yourself, are these positive or negative?
What do you think are some of the most potent practices in our culture?
In my reading, I tend to blow by most practical suggestions or exercises. I’d rather not stop and spend thirty minutes meditating. I would really just finish the chapter so I can move on with my life.
But, I am considering taking Smith’s “practices audit” seriously and actually giving it a try, mainly because I buy into his argument that the things we spend our time on are not neutral but are actually the things that shape and form us.
The only reason I see not to do it is fear. Fear that life might have to change on the other side.
So, we’ll see what happens, but I’m going to give it a go.