Making a place on Earth : participation in creation and redemption through placemaking and the arts
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This thesis will explore a theology of place and placemaking that is focused on the participatory role of humans in both creation and redemption, while suggesting the central and paradigmatic role of artistry in our construction of and identification with place. Building on the most recent theological and philosophical engagement with place, this thesis will argue for a theology of place that takes seriously the doctrines of creation and incarnation, focusing on a particularly redemptive understanding of placemaking in the material world. In its study of scripture and theology, it will focus on God’s blessing of people to participate in the making of places, along with the role this human making has in relationship to divine presence and the divine plan for creation and redemption. After developing a theology of place and placemaking more generally, the second half of this thesis will consider the practical, constructive, and transformative capabilities of placemaking as witnessed through the arts. Relying on theological engagement with the arts, it will argue that artistic making of all kinds and attention to place go hand in hand. Exploring a selection of artistic genres, including the photography of Marlene Creates, the quilts of Gee’s Bend, and the literature of Wendell Berry, this thesis will suggest that imaginative and “artistic” placemaking practices can give us a deeper understanding of the creative, redemptive, and transformative work of Christ in Creation, while also elucidating our calling to participate in it.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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