Shout out to Faithfully Magazine and their interview with James K.A. Smith on public theology and racial justice.
Smith has done much in previous books to show how much we are formed by certain cultural “liturgies.” So, for example, consumerism is not just something we do but a liturgy we are regularly indoctrinated into by our culture. In this book, he does some needed work to show how this plays out in the area of race. Some quotes from the interview include:
"My first and primary 'political' identity is as a citizen of the city of God, and the liturgy of the body of Christ is the civics of the city of God. I spend a lot of the book trying to describe how this self-understanding would change the sense of our political center of gravity—not because we would retreat into the church as some alternative enclave but because it would be from this centered identity in Christ that we would then be sent into the shared spaces of public life, forging a commonweal alongside our neighbors and for the sake of the vulnerable. (I point to the Civil Rights Movement as an example of this.) It is precisely God’s call to care for widows, orphans, and immigrants that won’t allow us to withdraw into the church as some alternative society. To do so would leave them vulnerable to the unjust who would only be all too willing to fill the vacuum of power left by sequestered Christians."
“We need to recognize that racism is operative more on the order of a liturgy than a worldview. If you merely treat racism as a worldview—an 'ideology'—then you can confidently congratulate yourself that you “don’t believe those ideas.” That is, by reducing racism to an ideology, you can dismiss it as a set of beliefs that you reject and isolate it to some cultural fringe. But if racism is more like a cultural liturgy, a repertoire of rituals that are part of the water we swim in, then I’m absorbing a racialized imaginary without even realizing it. That’s why I think a “liturgical” analysis of culture reframes our analysis of racism.”