06 February 2007


There has been a lot of talk recently on the topic of Christian practices. I like the idea but exactly what does it mean to perform a Christian practice?

While researching the Seven Deadly Sins, Michael Eric Dyson in his book on Pride mentioned the book After Virtue by Alasdair McIntyre. The book has been on my shelf for some time, but I never have picked it up. I know that Stanley Hauerwas quotes the book often and others have cited it. But Dyson mentioned cited it in a way the whetted my appetite. Luckily my buddy Chad told me to start at chapter 14 then go forwards, so I did. While reading chapter 14 I found a thick definition of practice.

Practice: any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved, are systematically extended...Bricklaying is not a practice, architecture is. (p.187)

As applied to Christian practices how does that help/aide the a working understanding?

For me it requires a dive into my own particular Baptist tradition, what is it that we have held up as excellent? Further dive, how do those understanding of excellence converge with the greater history of Western Christianity? Then you accomplished an initial and secondary naivete. But where to go from here? Are the practices that I find worth preserving? Or if a practice is worth preserving does it need lifted up or chipped away? I find myself in the position of trying to figure these questions out.

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