Articles by James K.A. Smith
December 1, 2015
Comment magazine editor James K.A. Smith finds in Peter Harrison’s The Territories of Science and Religion a remapping of the way we have come to know the world.
Harrison tracks the way religio and scientia of the ancient and medieval world come to mean something very different by the time they are translated as religion and science in early modern England Once science gets into “the truth and goodness business,” as Harrison puts it, and goodness is identified with progress, then science becomes a competitor of religion
June 23, 2015
I'm still here even on those days when it seems like I'm a million miles away, distant and detached and aloof because I'm haunted by the overwhelming absence of my father who has torn a hole in my life It's this distance that Franz Wright finally named for me years ago, in a poem about the destructi...
November 24, 2014
I imagine Rose protesting from the sidelines, “Be careful! Charles Taylor is telling us to swim in this stuff called ‘water!’” To which a wizened older fish replies, “Uh, brother: you’re already in it I suppose Rose is worried that people are looking to Taylor’s A Secular Age as if it were some sort...
June 1, 2014
Comment magazine editor James. K. A. Smith on understanding Charles Taylor
Your neighbours inhabit what Charles Taylor calls an "immanent frame"; they're no longer bothered by the "God question" as a question because they are devotees of "exclusive humanism" — a way of being in the world that offers significance without transcendence Think of me as an "assistant guide" to ...
March 11, 2014
Revelation overturns tradition and whatever "plausibility structures" we have in place, piercing through them and bowling us over with an "experience" of God He over-estimates it because he seems to imagine a kind of revelation that overwhelms our social embeddedness, as if it had to overcome our im...
March 10, 2014
The question that Linker in particular is asking, with and of Taylor, is this: Is it still possible to experience conversion in our "secular" age? Is religious experience possible in a disenchanted world? According to Linker's reading, Taylor argues "that in some important sense late modernity is ...
December 9, 2013
What's the connection between these two news items? You guessed it: many creditors, including unions and their pensioners, are looking at the DIA collection as something to be monetized to help settle the city’s debts Without question, protecting the DIA collection will mean even fewer cents on the ...
October 14, 2013
For example, those who champion Christian involvement in the public schools seem to focus on Christian schools as "private" enclaves of retreat and withdrawal, "holy huddles" whereby Christian children are sheltered from the world And at the heart of the best Christian schools is an integral vision ...
October 1, 2013
Christine Jones, John Zucchi, and Comment magazine editor James K.A. Smith reflect on Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei
And while our nation’s editorial pages daily offer a knowledge that passes away with the news cycle, Lumen Fidei shares a "faith knowledge" that endures eternally—to the praise and glory of God but also to our common good. This is why Lumen Fidei’s unapologetic proclamation is its own kind of apolog...
August 21, 2013
Indeed, the emerging theme is one of "slow" activism whose expectations are scaled down from the grand (indeed, federal) schemes of "cultural transformation" that captivated a prior generation But there is a sort of vague Anabaptism about the stories and strategies that we now seem to celebrate—a va...
August 7, 2013
But this American dream of upward mobility and economic stability is shriveling, or at least contracting—subject to a new sort of segregation (noted, for example, in Charles Murray's important 2012 book, Coming Apart) The Equality of Opportunity Project tracked the upward mobility of children born i...
July 12, 2013
Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God, in his love, and thus sheds light on the art of building; as such it becomes a service to the common good This Protestant is deeply grateful for the witness of...
May 24, 2013
In the event of an emergency, if I am going to be able to help my neighbours, I first need to put on my own oxygen mask If I'm going to be able to help the child beside me secure her oxygen mask, I need to first secure my own ...
March 28, 2013
The "chatter" of this class, I take it, is the constant din of commentary on everything: the need to analyze, dissect, explain, and predict ad infinitum But the situation of incessant commentary and distraction begs for Pascalian analysis: we have Twitter feeds to hide from the disturbing questions ...
February 22, 2013
Quite simply, I don't think you can sign up for pursuing "the common good" and hope to avoid at least some implicit commitment to paternalism—some sense that one knows what is good for others But is there really any ground for his assumption that creating political space for (negative) "freedom" wil...
February 6, 2013
When we do that, it seems clear that any Christian would of course side with Valjean, mourning the tragic fact that Javert has no room for grace or forgiveness in his worldview Let's first resist the temptation to read this as an allegory of salvation, with personifications of Grace and Law in Valje...
December 5, 2012
At Cardus, we pursue that drawing on more than 2,000 years of Christian social thought, and in Comment, we draw on that tradition with an accent we sometimes describe as "Kuyperian"—emphasizing the scope of God's concern for every square inch of creation, including public and political life Well, I'...