The Neighborhood as a Sacred Place

In his keynote talk for the Parish Collective’s Inhabit 2020 At Home Conference, John draws on insights from Walter Brueggemann and Dave Chapelle to explain how participants can turn their neighborhoods into sacred places.

When John asked him what makes a sacred place, Brueggemann said: A sacred place is where there are deep memories of both great suffering and glad forgiveness and where there are big promises not yet kept but still trusted. From Chapelle, John borrows an analogy of death as the incineration of a great library: Everything we have to share, everything we have to give, everything we have to tell is gone and our memory can become ashes.

But, John says, if we have a sacred place where these three gifts become manifest and visible, we will create a culture that carries forward and we will not be in ashes. We will be in community as each of our neighborhoods manifests our memories. We create a collective memory, a culture. Our neighborhood becomes a place where stories are told and gifts are given and suffering is shared.

Going Further

About the Lead Author

John McKnight
John McKnight
John McKnight is emeritus professor of education and social policy and codirector of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University. He is the coauthor of Building Communities from the Inside Out and the author of The Careless Society. He has been a community organizer and serves on the boards of several national organizations that support neighborhood development.

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