God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience

By David Brown | Go to book overview
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1 Sacrament and Enchantment

Reconceiving the Sacramental

In this first chapter, I want to stake out my claim that the Church has made a number of serious errors in withdrawing from theological engagement with large areas of human experience that were once religion's concern. That development which accelerated in the West from the sixteenth century onwards is sometimes called 'the disenchantment of the world'. The phrase was popularized by Weber, and to Weber I shall return in due course. My own view is that one way to recover enchantment and so a holistic view of how God relates to human experience in its totality is through a reinvigorated sense of the sacramental. 1 As my usage of the term is not the most conventional, I conclude the chapter with a discussion of how that term has been used over the centuries. However, I want to begin by offering some more general reflections on what has led me to approach the subject in this way.

Divine Generosity and Natural Religion

The sequel to this volume culminates in a discussion of the eucharist, supremely for the Christian 'the means of grace' that mediates divine generosity, a generosity that is seen as manifest more generally in the 'sacramental'. Yet even so, few readers would, I suspect, anticipate finding topics such as landscape art, town planning, sport, and gardening set alongside the traditional sacraments (as I do in what follows), whether these sacraments be thought of as limited to the standard two of Protestantism or Roman Catholicism's further


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