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Place With God: A Mennonite Perspective On The Sacred

1206 words - 5 pages

In the article, Place with God: A Mennonite Perspective on the Sacred, Gayle Gerber Koontz, defines “place”, and relates place to a special relationship (place) with God. She begins with a recounting of her experience with a family store that burns down, leaving her parents with feelings of “placelessness”. The author is a Mennonite, a part of the Christian family of religions. Mennonites believe in “Anabaptism”, baptism at adulthood upon declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ. This is significant in that Mennonites choose to have a place with God. Koontz identifies place as a complex, conceptual system consisting of five dimensions: physical, emotional, cultural, historical, and social dimensions. Each dimension of place is directly linked to a relationship or “place” with God.The first dimension of place is physical symbolizing the roots of place beginning with geography. As place is differentiated by its location and relationships with other places, place is “interactive”. It is “characterized by its locale and interconnected with surrounding places.” A place is separate but also part of a larger whole. Residents of North America value the pioneering spirit of mobility across geography. Mennonites also value “independence and freedom” of movement. Koontz briefly touches on the topic of environmental destruction as a result of urban and suburban sprawl. As people move across geography they bring with them this destruction of nature for man-made structures supplemental to living such as restaurants, shopping malls, roadways and homes. Telecommunications and computer networks have also infringed upon natural space and it is possible that “virtual place” will create a new concept of place.Recognition of symbols that classify a place gives it meaning, purpose and uniqueness. This recognition is experienced through the senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell. Place is also associated with feelings and emotion. Places often have “moods” or spirit associated with them. The author uses the example of a hospital. A hospital can have several different emotional moods. It can be seen as a haven for death or a place of healing, regeneration or birth. Each evokes different but completely valid emotional responses. A hospital serves all purposes and this makes the interpretation of the place highly individual.Culture also has an impact on place. As culture is an intertwined way of life among people, culture has a role in defining a place. The cultures of people define what a place is and all things associated with it. For example, a member of American society or culture can easily identify certain places based upon cultural markers. However, an American may not understand cultural Andrika symbols of the Ghana of West Africa. These cultural markers are specific to culture and cannot easily be understood by members of other cultures. To identify a physical place, a...

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