Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sacred Space & Geo-Piety

As a child I remember riding in our family car from Indiana to Upper Michigan for our 4 week vacation. When we hit the tall forests, my dad would let our a sigh, "Ah, those forests! It's good to be home! Could anything be more beautiful than those forest?" To which our answers were always "Oh no, this is as beautiful as it gets." Early I was tutored in Geo-Piety, that sentiment that invests sacred power to certain places.
The term "Geo-Piety" comes from the author Jim Harrison in his book "True North". "Each village was obsesed with the history of its own immediate area and infinitely less so than the human history of the village a mere thirty miles away. Later in life I learned that human geographers call this 'geo-piety' which also applies to larger units and fidelities like Michigan State-University of Michigan football games." (p. 214)
I learned the infinite details about Upper Michigan, Delta County and, more importantly, the soveriegn dignity of Gladstone, Michigan against their nemesis, Escanaba. But over the years, I also learned about the inherent superiority of St. Paul over Minneapolis, of Minnesota's strength over Wisconsin (never even mention Iowa). As I pastored in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and now California, I observe that no place is immune from the tendency of geo-piety. A Michigan member lost his job in his 50's. He found a job in Texas that paid more than he used to make and made plans to move there. The last week of planning, his wife announced that he would have to move alone. She could never live in Texas. It was too far from home! He lasted one year in Texas and moved back.
We just returned from a trip to Israel. In Jerusalem we saw painful and bloody evidence of millenia of geo-piety. This dirt is sacred dirt and mine! You cannot be on my land or I will kill you. Even the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is carved up into different sectarian regions of piety, coexisting but barely...and all these are Christians!
I am glad whereeve I am. All places have God's people and are therefore sacred. California's coast, the central valley, the plains of Montana, the cold north of Minnesota or the muggy south of Richmond. God is evident in the buzz of Los Angeles and the whispers of an Indiana corn field. Too often we worship the location more than the Lord of the location.


At 5:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

DUDE :-)
This topic really resonates with me, esp the last sentence. Good words!

At 1:49 PM , Blogger Rick said...

A friend of mind in the railroad executive leadership, now retired, had plenty of moves. His wife said "I'll go anywhere but Texas". Sure enough, his next to last before retirement was to Texas. She regretfully went along as long as he promised to try and get a california slot for his last assignment so they could retire there - "back home". After 6-7 years in TX the slot opened up. She agreed to move back to CA only if he promised to come back to TX to retire. During that last stretch in CA she never got a dentist. She would fly back to Kingwood twice a year and see her dentist and spend a month or so with friends. Home really is where the heart is.


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