Below you’ll find an excerpt from my new e-book, Reconciling Places: How to Bridge the Chasms in our Communities (utilized by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers, wipfandstock.com) You can discover it at Island Books and Barnes and Noble in Middletown (RI), Barrington Books (Barrington location) or on Amazon.
Since 2007, I’ve resided in a specific place: the small, seaside metropolis of Newport, Rhode Island, positioned at forty-one levels north latitude and seventy-one levels west longitude (Okay, technically I reside in Middletown, however the Newport metropolis line is simply fifteen ft from my home, and I’ve spent loads of time in Newport correct). My adopted dwelling sits on the southern finish of Aquidneck Island and is surrounded by the breathtaking fantastic thing about Narragansett Bay. Before I grew to become a resident of Newport, my spouse and I solely knew the town as vacationers, first visiting in July 1998. We have fond reminiscences of strolling on the boardwalk subsequent to solar-kissed Easton’s Beach, using the enduring carousel there, and sauntering down decrease Thames Street, looking by means of coastal-themed retailers promoting antiques, shot glasses, work, jewellery, and different assorted knickknacks.
Newport is understood for its wealthy historical past and status: the town dates again to 1639 and tasks a glamorous picture on account of its Gilded Age mansions, previously owned by “American royalty” such because the Vanderbilt household. In 1953, Jacqueline Bouvier married Senator John F. Kennedy downtown at St. Mary’s Church; the reception happened on the elegant Hammersmith Farm property in southern Newport. More just lately, billionaire businessman Larry Ellison and comic Jay Leno each bought mansions in Newport (Beechwood and Seafair, respectively). Newport, previous and current, has been a sizzling spot for the wealthy and well-known.
However, upon changing into a resident of Newport, I started to see this metropolis was extra difficult than marketed. While its status is effectively-earned, Newport additionally endures excessive ranges of poverty, unemployment, and drug and alcohol habit, in addition to a housing scarcity for the impoverished and homeless. Furthermore, upon assembly the director of a area people heart, I realized that Newport is polarized between the wealthy and the poor, between millionaires that spend the summer season vacationing within the metropolis and lots of others who subsist on authorities help. Perhaps most tragically of all, one company has calculated that Newport has the third highest price of kid abuse and neglect in Rhode Island.
That is a mere snapshot of the place I inhabit. What are you aware concerning the place you name dwelling? Very possible it’s extra multifaceted than you’re at present conscious. So as a result of we can’t serve our communities effectively if our understanding of them is superficial, let’s take the chance to outline the entire concept of place extra absolutely.
Let’s think about that every place is sort of a diamond. Every diamond has sides: “A facet is a flat surface on the geometric shape of the diamond. . . . The facets are arranged in such a way as to make sure the right amount of light enters the diamond, as well as reflect from the diamond” (Cape Town Diamond Museum, www.capetowndiamondmuseum.org) Now, let’s envision that every place has 4 sides: the concrete, interactive, sacramental, and eschatological. When taken collectively, these sides, or traits, give us a complete image of place.
The concrete dimension refers back to the tangible, created order. The Bible begins with the phrase, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). God common constellations, planets, and black holes within the firmament above, whereas on our planet he offered rivers, oceans, mountains, timber, grass, and so forth. Place, then, is materialistic, sensory, and tactile; it’s the “physical context of our lives.” One can measure the temperature of water and really feel its refreshing coolness because it slides down the throat. I can observe the dry texture of sand or the muckiness of mud as my ft press into these surfaces. Every place has an altitude, a scent, a selected assortment of natural world, a measurable inhabitants of people and animal life, a sure sort of constructed setting positioned at a selected longitude and latitude. Place is exterior and quantifiable to us (people).”
The Rev. Paul Hoffman is senior pastor of Evangelical Friends Church of Newport. For extra data or to see his weblog, go to efcnewport.com. The Clergy Corner seems every week in The Daily News and on-line at newportri.com.
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