Can places be holy?by Paul M. Schrock, Harrisonburg, Va.
I applaud Marlene Kropf’s helpful insights in “It Takes More Than Sunday School” (Aug. 19). However, I’d appreciate clarification of one detail: What does it mean to take a pilgrimage to a holy place? Can places be holy?
Marlene Kropf responds
With regard to holy places: I actually prefer the term “thin places.” In the ancient Celtic Christian tradition, a thin place is where the intersection between the spiritual and material world is especially apparent. In such contexts, we more readily sense God’s presence—for example, near oceans or on mountains, at birth and death, or at the sites where the saints of God lived and were faithful witnesses of God’s love and grace. One of the losses of modernity was that the world was desacralized; in other words, the sense of God’s immanence all but vanished.
Today many Christians long for a more vivid and daily awareness of God’s presence. Pilgrimages to such places renew our vision of a God who is everywhere present and also intimately engaged with our lives. For more on this complex topic, see Explorations in a Christian Theology of Pilgrimage (Ashgate Publishing, 2004). —Marlene Kropf, denominational minister of worship, Mennonite Church USA Executive Leadership
Associated Issue: More than Sunday school - Aug. 19, 2008
Associated Article: It takes more than Sunday school
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