Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sacred Space as Revelation or Human Construction?

One question that I continually go back and forth on is whether sacred places are places of God’s revelation, a certain thinning of the veil perhaps, or created as a result of human memory and ritual. Is God really being revealed in this place or do we “see” God’s hand symbolically as an extension of illumination and subsequent projection upon certain places? Inge’s biblical and historical examples suggest the first option where we experience God’s revelation. Yet both authors say that over time, places accumulate meanings and memory and rise in importance. I don’t think W. Paul Jones’ delineation between sacred and tourist spots quite answers my question either.[1] Places like the Vietnam Memorial or Gettysburg have a sacred character for many non religious people. I guess I am struggling with definitions of “sacred” and “revelation.” Has something been revealed by God and of God’s being that claims that particular place as sacred, or are we projecting upon it or infusing it with meaning seen in the light of Christ’s redeeming work. Perhaps it is Inge’s use of both revelation and sacramentalism that is confusing me.

[1] W. Paul Jones, A Table in the Desert: Making Space Holy (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2001), 46.