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Towards a spatial theory of worship: some observations from Presbyterian…

by Fraser MacDonald

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In an attempt to add theoretical depth to the emerging literature on geographies of religion, this paper pays particular attention to the concepts of space and worship in relation to the practice of evangelical Presbyterianism in the Scottish Highlands. I argue that 'worship', a term which has no universal application in religious studies, has been thinly conceived in geographical literature and must be examined both as process and as practice. Worship is here considered as the dynamic and varied human response to the theological proposition of Divinity. Specifically, the paper explores the dialectic between the theology of the Reformation and the practice of formal worship, a relation that is given a spatial expression in the Sabbath service. Departing from the familiar use of Henri Lefebvre's work on the production of space to describe the geography of mobile capital, I apply his neglected observations on French ecclesiastical architecture to Calvinist worship in the Outer Hebrides. The material in this paper was collected in the course of a long-term ethnographic engagement with the island of North Uist and is placed in the context of wider representations of Presbyterianism within popular culture.
  josiasporter | Apr 21, 2009 |
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