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Durham e-Theses
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Towards the theology of place

Radley, Stephen Gavin (1992) Towards the theology of place. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis seeks to give a theological account of the human experience of place, in the first part of the thesis three ways in which human beings relate to places are described. All human beings relate existentially to 'my place' with feelings of belonging or outsideness. Each human being relates to a place in a unique way which reflects personality, experience and socialisation; the mental map of each individual of any place is always a simplified version of reality Each human being observes and experiences places through learnt patterns; these patterns are preserved in institutional forms and are expressed in a socially organised structure within which all human beings are placed. In any relation a place can influence and constrain. It can function as an agent just as powerfully as a human being can. 'A place' can be of any scale. The people of a continental block may share features of history, culture, building style and world view which may be different to those of other parts of the world. However, those same categories can vary, in other ways, over very short distances of time and space. A place may be as small as 'my place'; that is, where I call home. A place is always a complex of interrelations between the past and the present; between human society and natural landscape and climate; and between this place and another place with which this place relates. Furthermore, competing scales of place coexist. I might feel at home in my country but out of place in a neighbouring village or suburb. In the second part of the thesis it is argued that a relational ontology will account for the way human beings operate in and with places. It is suggested that space and time present a four- dimensional framework for describing the location of any object; that God is present in a place by virtue of his creative and life- sustaining Spirit and no human agency is required to actualise this presence; and that McFadyen's model of Christian personhood maybe applied more widely than to individual human beings. It describes how all things may be said to relate. In this theological anthropology it has not been possible to deal at any length with the way in which God is present in place. Nor has it been possible to consider questions of place in the Bible or in the Christian tradition. Clearly the land, the spiritualisation of the presence of God and territorial expressions of Christianity through time are important questions but they lie beyond the scope of this thesis. It is the concern of this thesis merely to describe how the relation between human beings and 'place' operates and to offer a theological account, based on a relational ontology of the relationships described.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1992
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Nov 2012 10:58

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