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Pilgrimage in Place


Christians in the United States live everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The way we live

everywhere is rootless enough that we do not really live where we live. This book is about how we came to live both everywhere and nowhere and how we can begin to live somewhere again. In a word, this book is about place. It is about physical place, but also the idea of place and how we, as American Christians, know, experience, and utilize places.

Pilgrimage in Place shares insight into the ways space has been structured by colonial, racial, and class histories as well as nationalism, capitalism, and globalization. It shows how many American Christians are stuck in a conceptual and practical dead end regarding our relationship to place, due especially to our uninterrogated acceptance of prevailing cultural assumptions about land and property. Drawing on personal experience, theological reflection, and social research across American places—rural, suburban, and urban—and in how Christians think about the Holy Land, we recover transformative practices, both individual and corporate, for daily life in the places we inhabit.

By rethinking our relationship to place, we can deepen our life in the spaces where we live. We’ll

nurture an imagination shaped by the wisdom of scripture for land and place, develop new approaches for ministry in our local communities, grow to celebrate good places, strengthen our ability to resist forces that inscribe inequity into places, and gather tools for building the kinds of places that are just, true, good, and beautiful.

The book will include an introduction, nine chapters, and a conclusion. It will be divided into three sections: (1) tools for American Christians to better read the places where they live, (2) a history of the development of common types of places in the United States (shopping malls, schools, churches, single- family homes, farms, etc.), and (3) practices and virtues for living in places that reflect God’s kingdom values. The book will be between 75,000 and 90,000 words. Each chapter will include discussions of place-related issues of concern, such as housing availability, school districting, how we build and repurpose church buildings, ways that tax revenue is apportioned for public building projects, and more.

The audience for this book will include Christians who are interested in cultural engagement, but who are looking for a fresh way of approaching the world. Because place is a universal topic—everyone engages with place and many issues of concern have place-based dimensions—we use place as a key for thinking freshly about issues our audience cares about, such as Christian nationalism, political polarization, racial inequity, environmental sustainability, and a Christian presence in society.

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