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Spaces for the Sacred

Paperback
, 214 pages
ISBN:
9780801868610
December 2001
$22.00

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Spaces for the Sacred

Place, Memory, and Identity

In Spaces for the Sacred, Philip Sheldrake brilliantly reveals the connection between our rootedness in the places we inhabit and the construction of our personal and religious identities. Based on the prestigious Hulsean Lectures he delivered at the University of Cambridge, Sheldrake's book examines the sacred narratives which derive from both overtly religious sites such as cathedrals, and secular ones, like the Millennium Dome, and it suggests how Christian theological and spiritual traditions may contribute creatively to current debates about place.

Philip Sheldrake is vice-principal and academic director of Sarum College, Salisbury, and honorary professor at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and visiting professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of several books, including Spirituality and History.

"The subject before him is enormous, yet he succeeds in giving a comprehensive and provocative evaluation. If this reviewer were preparing a course on Christian spirituality, Spaces for the Sacred would be required reading."

"In Sheldrake's competent hands, place offers a locus for deepening our understanding of both religious experience and identity."

"This is a creative, thought-provoking work of scholarship that offers a multifaceted exploration of the idea of place within the Christian tradition. Sheldrake's intimate familiarity with theological language and thought enable him to do what no one else before him has done, namely set the current 'crisis of place' against a centuries-old backdrop of thinking and reflection on place as a key category for understanding religious experience and identity."

"Philip Sheldrake has enriched and deepened the idea of place by bringing history, cultural studies, geography, various human sciences, and literature together with theology and spirituality. He manages to do justice to the particularity of place in its many dimensions, and to connect in an accessible style with ordinary personal and social life in the twenty-first century. Above all he helps readers to identify and 'position' themselves in relation to the places in their lives, and to open up new possibilities of inhabiting them."

"'To be a person,' Philip Sheldrake tells us, quoting the philosopher Heidegger, is literally to 'be there,' Dasein, thus to be in a particular place. Drawing on a wide range of writers, from Duns Scotus to Simon Schama, as well as on poetry and his memories of his own childhood in Dorset, Sheldrake offers a rich and original way of meditating on the importance of place and places in our lives."

"At a time when—in the modern metropolis—time has been usurped by space, and space has become everywhere the same, the same fluorescent lit shopping malls and suburban lawns, Philip Sheldrake's Hulsean Lectures seek to reclaim 'space' as a fundamental Christian category, as the space which God makes in coming to us at a particular time and place. Inspired by Duns Scotus and Michel de Certeau, and the Ignatian Exercises, Sheldrake explores the tensions in Christian tradition between the particular and the universal stability and pilgrimage, the places we inhabit and from which we must depart. This gently passionate book will be welcomed by all concerned with traversing the modern city, and who wish to journey with the man who made space for others, but had nowhere to lay his head."

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