American Sanctuary: Understanding Sacred Spaces by Louis P. Nelson

April 3, 2017 | Religious Studies | By admin | 0 Comments

By Louis P. Nelson

This quantity examines a various set of areas and structures obvious during the lens of well known perform and trust to make clear the complexities of sacred house in the United States. participants discover how commitment sermons rfile moving understandings of the assembly condo in early 19th-century Connecticut; the alterations in evangelical church structure through the comparable century and what that tells us approximately evangelical spiritual lifestyles; the effect of up to date concerns on Catholic church structure; the effect of globalization at the development of conventional sacred areas; the city perform of Jewish area; nature worship and significant Park in long island; the mezuzah and household sacred house; and, eventually, the religious points of African American backyard artwork.

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24 Although the distinction between these two uses of “sacred” may be familiar and comfortable for us today, we should not underestimate the effect of such language on congregations not at all used to hearing their meetinghouses described in this fashion. Even using these words in their second sense, that of being appropriated to some religious use, implied a distinction between the sacred and the profane that was unfamiliar to Puritans. For them, God was everywhere, as much in the daily routines of home and work as he was present at worship.

The meetinghouse, because it was literally and figuratively at the center of town life, often became a point of contention in community relations; many town and church-society records document lengthy and sometimes nasty controversies about the location of the meetinghouse, its construction and repair, or its cost. In the midst of numerous debates about location and ownership, however, one rarely finds any discussion about the nature of the space. Until the end of the eighteenth century, there are few documentary references that indicate the meetinghouse was considered sacred in any Nelson_AmerSanctuary 20 11/30/05 2:32 PM Page 20 Inscription way.

In order to recognize change, we must know what earlier New England houses of worship looked like and how people talked and thought about them. We must then take note of how the architecture of these buildings evolved. Sensitivity to ritual is also necessary: How did people use these buildings, and how did use patterns change? Finally, as we seek to understand what these buildings meant, we must listen to what people were saying about them. Did they compare them to other buildings past or present?

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