All political action tells a story. These stories teach us something about what is good or evil, what is heroic or cowardly, and which ideas—or even people—deserve a public hearing. Immersion in these stories is deeply formative, and that formation, when it goes unnoticed, can subvert our imitation of Christ. How are our politics molding us? And what does it mean to pursue habits of spiritual maturity with politics in mind? Kaitlyn Schiess, an author and seminarian whose formative years in American evangelicalism culminated with graduation from Liberty University in 2016, explores these questions in The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor. CT columnist Bonnie Kristian spoke with Schiess about her book.
The Liturgy of Politics begins by looking at the intersection of Christianity and politics in America over the past half century. How would you characterize the problem you see, and what’s the new way forward you’re proposing?
The book’s thesis is that our political formation shapes us in spiritual ways—but also that our spiritual formation should shape us in political ways. We have not sufficiently examined the state of our hearts and the power of the political stories we have taken for granted. We don’t recognize, necessarily, the ways we are shaped on a lower register by the political media we consume and the political habits we practice. That shaping is not content to stay in the political realm; inevitably, it will influence us spiritually.
My goal in the book, then, is to look at that problem and say: Maybe the answer we need is not a new answer. Maybe the answer we need is to return to the historic practices of the church that have always been ...1
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