Place with God: A Mennonite Perspective on the Sacred

Essay by beckjainUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2008

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In the article, Place with God: A Mennonite Perspective on the Sacred, Gayle Gerber Koontz, defines “place”, and relates place to a special relationship (place) with God. She begins with a recounting of her experience with a family store that burns down, leaving her parents with feelings of “placelessness”. The author is a Mennonite, a part of the Christian family of religions. Mennonites believe in “Anabaptism”, baptism at adulthood upon declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ. This is significant in that Mennonites choose to have a place with God. Koontz identifies place as a complex, conceptual system consisting of five dimensions: physical, emotional, cultural, historical, and social dimensions. Each dimension of place is directly linked to a relationship or “place” with God.

The first dimension of place is physical symbolizing the roots of place beginning with geography. As place is differentiated by its location and relationships with other places, place is “interactive”.

It is “characterized by its locale and interconnected with surrounding places.” A place is separate but also part of a larger whole. Residents of North America value the pioneering spirit of mobility across geography. Mennonites also value “independence and freedom” of movement. Koontz briefly touches on the topic of environmental destruction as a result of urban and suburban sprawl. As people move across geography they bring with them this destruction of nature for man-made structures supplemental to living such as restaurants, shopping malls, roadways and homes. Telecommunications and computer networks have also infringed upon natural space and it is possible that “virtual place” will create a new concept of place.

Recognition of symbols that classify a place gives it meaning, purpose and uniqueness. This recognition is experienced through the senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell. Place is also associated with feelings and emotion. Places often have...