God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience

By David Brown | Go to book overview
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Interim Conclusion

As already indicated, a sequel to the present work will appear in due course. Its focus will be on how experience of God can be, and has been, mediated through the human body and its various activities, among them (apart from the physical body itself) dance and music, word and food, with the entire programme culminating in a discussion of the eucharist; hence its proposed title: God and Grace of Body: Sacrament in Ordinary. There is thus much yet to appear before my discussion can be said to be complete. However, it may be helpful to readers to have some idea of how far I hope to have carried them thus far. This I can best do, by addressing them under three different sorts of category: as religious believers or explorers, as theologians, and as philosophers of religion. Some will of course fall under more than one category.

In the modern developed world there is now, I believe, a huge mismatch between the Church and how people at large experience the divine. It is not that the latter have ceased to believe in the supernatural or only identify it in a very crude way (though this is of course sometimes so) but that, when they attend a church service, the ritual no longer seems to evoke any immediate or intuitive response. In part this is perhaps a good thing, as the Church can scarcely claim to have a distinctive gospel unless there are elements that sit ill with existing presuppositions. But the problem is that more often than not, so far from being challenged, the non-Christian simply experiences no reaction at all. The Christian and unchurched theist appear to be on quite different wavelengths. That is one reason why the exercise in natural religion upon which I have been engaged in this book seems to me of no small moment. It takes seriously the great tracts of human experience that the Church and its theologians once took seriously but now generally see as peripheral to its concerns. The natural world, the layout of a town or garden, the structure of a specific building, a basketball

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