What do you think? What do you want? What do you think you want? What do you love?
These are important questions, and they are the questions that orient a book we are looking at in Sunday adult education at our church, entitled You Are What You Love, by James A. K. Smith.
One of the main aims of this book is to call into question an assumption that many (most?) of us Americans make about ourselves—that we humans are thinking things. Whatever else being human might entail, it’s mainly about what I think. Open up Facebook, and you can get a glimpse of this: people are (too?) eager to share what they think about a particular political figure. Bring up religion, and someone will tell you what they “believe”—by which they mean religious thoughts or opinions.
I’ve spent a good part of my life around Christians who prioritize “believing in the gospel” above everything else. Now, I don’t wish to call this entire statement into question here. Rather, I would only call out the word believe: a word used in this context to mean “think about” or “affirm mentally.” Is affirming certain content, even contemplating it often, enough to ensure that we are faithful followers of Jesus? There has to be more to it than that.
I’m pretty sure the author does not wish to throw out the importance of ideas, thoughts, content. Instead, he thinks (ha!) that this is not enough; it doesn’t go far enough in making sense of humans.
Instead, as the title suggests, the author argues that who we are flows out of what we love. Something(s) and/or someone(s) stand at the center of our heart. And that is what determines who we are—what we believe, yes, but also what we do, how we do it, etc. So if instead of “you are what you think,” you are what you love.”
If this is true, then the fundamental human question—regardless of whether you are “religious” (FYI, everyone is religious)—is, What do I love? As the author will explore, the first step in determining the answer to this question is to look at what I actually say and do. As it turns out, what we actually love may not be the same thing as what we think we love or what we want to love.
I’m absolutely being rocked by this book. It’s a breath of fresh air, especially in light of what I’ve been going through in life over the last year. Confession: what I thought I loved did not line up with what I actually loved.
More to come!