Re: An Acceptable Loss of Place

After having read the comments Keith, Andrew and Dan have left about the importance (or unimportance) of place, I’m eager to make a few comments on the subject. First though, I want to introduce myself. I’m a fourth year university student at Glendon College, York University where I’m studying English and History(and a little bit of French). When I’m not studying my face off, I enjoy dicussing the intersection between literature/art and various philosophies/worldviews, the issue of relevancy vs. tradition in the church today, gender and class issues, and (low level!) metaphysics and epistemology . I go to a church where everyone else is a better environmentalist than myself and a much better artist, but I hope to benefit from these points of view and emerge as a well rounded, relevant and Christian person.

Reading the previous posts on place reminded me of a recent visit to Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where I witnessed Canada’s first certified organic town in action. While I wandered around the vineyards in nearby Gaspereau, my friend told me of her plans to leave Toronto far behind and settle in Nova Scotia, where she hopes to live sustainably and live a good life while she’s at it.

While I have hesitations about the possibility of living sustainably, I appreciated her sense that land and its by-products are intrinsically tied to living a moral life. Andrew and Keiths’  understanding that our post-industrial mindset inhibits us from living this way, is in my mind, right on the mark. Despite being called “backwards”, “afraid of technology”, and “unrealistic” in the few short days since I have reflected upon this issue, I am certain that all of creation has been given to us in order that,  as individuals and families,  we can inhabit a small portion of the earth to “subdue”  and live off of. In other words, God’s garden commands aren’t moot just because we get apples shipped in from China instead of growing our own vegetable gardens.

I think a key issue in this discussion is that people need to really live where they’re living, and real living involves knowing and understanding the land. I don’t mean that everyone should be a farmer, just that real living is more physical than many modern people think it is. We are all living some sort of physical reality, but we often don’t think about where that is.

Having said this, I think Andrew is right that one can live fully and physically wherever one is, and it is morally ideal to do so in a place with long-term relational ties. Although it may be harder to understand creation, community and one’s role in these in a bustling metropolis, we can’t just give up on an area because it is harder to have a positive relationship with  as a “place”.

In the midst of our highly transitive, “modern” lives, we need to live consistently, and this involves understanding and appreciating our surroundings. This doesn’t mean worshipping them as many world religions do, it simply means utilising them respectfully and appreciatively as tools for building better lives for ourselves and giving glory to God in the process.

Step one, for all of us of course, is getting off these computers more often!