A Christian Theology of Place (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology) Paperback – 28 Dec 2003
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Prize: Shortlisted for the Michael Ramsay Prize, 2005 'A wonderful book. I learned immensely from having read it.' Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School, USA 'This welcome book is a perceptive and helpful statement of why and how Christian faith needs to be embodied in places and activities.It significantly enriches theunderstanding of faith,and provides important help in responding to those who question religioussymbols and institutions today.' Daniel W Hardy, Cambridge, UK 'A study that I judge to be on target in powerful and compelling ways. The opening chapter on Hellenistic background is powerful, the development in sacramental directions is most helpful. The work on the Old Testament is sound and well articulated. The push toward a 'relational' understanding of place, and the appreciation of the distinction between place and space presented in this book, will prove of great value to a wide range of readers.' Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary, USA 'John Inge's book is a welcome addition to the small but growing volume of literature reflecting theologically on the fact that we are necessarily situated beings... I agree with Inge that a new respect for place is vital in a world remorselessly globalised by the big corporations and the new imperialism; and in that respect his book is especially timely and helpful.' The Church Times '... this is an excellent book. It makes a much needed contribution at a time when so much of the 'place' is derided, and all is movement and rootlessness.' Anvil 'The eleven-page bibliography shows the impressive breadth of his scholarship, and the footnotes [...] show the depth of his engagement with his sources... Readers approaching the book from an interest in Christian theology will find that Inge has made his case thoroughly and convincingly; they will not thereafter be able to ignore 'place' as a theological topic... Inge's approach is to be commended for accepting modernity's challenge to think critically, even as he rejects modernity's false assumptions.' Implicit Religion '... John Inge's book is an excellent resource for those seeking a survey of recent work on the role of place in Christian theological reflection... a welcome addition to a growing field of inquiry.' Modern Theology '... a timely and constructive book.' Rural Theology 'This is a very well researched book written by a former canon of Ely Cathedral... this book is a useful resource for study and reflection for a wide range of readers seeking to address ideas of place in a changing world, not least those studying for leadership and ministry in churches having to face up to the closure of so many sacred places.' Journal of Adult Theological Education '... stimulating and important book... This book is a timely and rich offering to sacramental and indeed systematic theology.' Theology 'John Inge's book offers a valuable unveiling of place as an integral category in Christian traditions and in Western society.' Scottish Journal of Theology
About the Author
John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, UK
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Inge also suggests that the sacramental life of inside the church should have external implications as well. Experiencing God's grace and presence in the sacraments should encourage us to seek the same disclosure in the world. And by seeking the sacramental in the world, should increase our appreciation of the sacramental life of the church. Place becomes a powerful idea in connection with the site of the sacraments.
Inge recalls geographer Edward Relph's words, "places are constructed in our memories and affections through repeated encounters and complex associations and place experiences are necessarily time-deepened and memory qualified." Places are unique not just because of geographical or architectural elements, rather places are unique and inseparable from the individuals and communities associated with it and tell its story"
One of the things I greatly appreciated about Inge's work was such a simple point. "The role of such place is to root believers in their faith and point them towards the redemption of all places." My initial concern with his work was the appeal to experience. Where would these experiences end? With the self? My fear is that such experiences only serve to insulate the individual instead of being rooted in the world. The experience begins and ends beyond the individual. Its starts with God's action, received by humanity, and sends them to participate in further place making.
I agree with Belden Lane's comments on Inge's book that it is a fine summary of the landscape of place rather than a great contribution to the field. It is a very worthwhile journey for the reader to be brought into the conversation, but his constructive proposal place is only loosely defined.