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Wednesday, 18 February 2015
A Sense of Space

Spaces for the Sacred: Place, Memory, and Identity,
Philip Sheldrake, John Hopkins/SCM, 2001, page 8

In a diminutive and unasuming book, written fifteen years ago, Philip Sheldrake starts to address the idea of 'place'.

Another dimension of the contemporary crisis of place is social. People in the West are increasingly an exiled and uprooted people, living 'out of place'. Social geographers suggest that while it is essential to have 'place identity', we have since the Second World War de-emphasised place for the sake of values such as mobility, centralisation or economic rationalisation.

After some telling comments about skyscrapers and airports and the way in which they have become idols or idolatrous icons in contemporary society, Sheldrake concludes:

Indeed, mobility is now understood to be a freedom bought by education and money. Remaining in the same place has come to symbolise a lack of choice, an entrapment, which is the lot of the poor, the elderly and people with handicaps. In an increasingly placeless culture, we become 'standardised, removable, replaceable, easly transported and transferred from one location to another.

In other words, de-humanised; reduced to function rather than life. The image of G-d has been squeezed out.

Posted By Jonathan, 9:00am Comment Comments: 1
 
 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Comment -

Anchors and roots have become increasingly the subject of study over recent decades. The Bible also values place to a point while tempering that rootedness with rootedness in God. So when God wants to teach some specific things he takes that person or people into the desert - the place of wandering - so that rootedness in Him becomes the focus, not the place or social context. Abraham exemplifies this. He was promised a place, for sure, but his rootedness was in the promise and not the place. His vision also went beyond the place to the future kingdom. Thus he was at the same time able to sojourn in a place that wasn't his knowing that it would belong to his descendents even after several hundred years of exile.

Posted By Timothy Butlin 10:59am