By Huizinga Johan
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Extra resources for A definition of the concept of history
And yet most, if not all, cultures have sacred spaces – springs, wells, groves, mountains, churches, mosques, temples. Can we in fact dispense with an account of sacred space? In his defence of sacred space Mircea Eliade appeals to the story of the burning bush: ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’ (Exod. ). W. Brueggemann, The Land (Philadelphia: Fortress, ), p. . A. Rapoport, House, Form and Culture (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, ), p.
It is not a profane world which is a contradiction in terms but a world which has lost its memory. Without memory, ‘chaos is come again’. Quite independently, Christian Norberg-Schultz mounted a similar argument, appealing to Heidegger. For him the purpose of architecture is to create ‘dwelling’. Human beings ‘dwell’ when they experience the environment as meaningful, and this happens when spaces become places. A place is a space which has a distinct character. Sacred places orientate us and help us find identity.
The question is not really about interesting aspects of cultural history. It is much more about what we are doing with our present. ) but to do so as residents, as those totally committed to their locality and to the earth ( Jer. ). As such they need both to be informed about their world and to reflect on it in the light of their tradition of unsettlement. It is the task of theology to help them to do that, and this book is one small part of that process. Theology is always primarily addressed to the Church, but it is addressed to the Church at a particular time, seeking to understand itself and what, in faith, it has to contribute to the world of which it is an indissoluble part.
A definition of the concept of history by Huizinga Johan