<i>Topos</i>: At Home, Always a Stranger

Douglas E. Christie

in The Blue Sapphire of the Mind

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199812325
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979745 | DOI:
Topos: At Home, Always a Stranger

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Pervasive patterns of economic and political instability have forced growing numbers of human beings into a condition of perpetual homelessness or exile. The deepening degradation of the natural world is contributing to this reality, with once-thriving places becoming so ecologically, socially, and culturally impoverished that they remain barely inhabitable. Increasingly, the sense of belonging to and feeling knit into the fabric of a place is becoming lost to us. And with it is arising a growing awareness of a deep alienation that can perhaps only be adequately described as a kind of “soul loss.” Amidst this deepening sense of displacement and homelessness, we are witnessing a newfound urgency to discover language and practices that can help us situate ourselves more carefully and thoughtfully within the world, to recover the art of what some have called “place-making,” the imaginative work of beholding, inhabiting, and cherishing the particular places where we live. The ancient Christian monks cultivated their own distinctive approach to place-making, while also maintaining a clear awareness of themselves as exiles, as persons without a place. This chapter considers how this contemplative tradition of place-making might contribute to the kind of spiritual renewal that can help us cultivate a capacity for tending to an increasingly fragile world.

Keywords: homelessness; exile; natural world; Christian monks; spiritual renewal

Chapter.  18588 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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