East Asian and Nordic Perspectives
Edited By Knut Alfsvåg and Thor Strandenæs
Escape and experiment: Perspectives on urban spirituality
Christian spirituality has always been connected to places. The parenthetic remark in the introduction to Luke’s Nativity Narrative can be seen as an exemplary expression of this:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register (Luke 2:1–2, New International Version, author’s emphasis).
It ‘took place’, the author says. Even though its use here is of mere metaphorical character, that is: to say that something did happen in Bethlehem at that time, the phrase has a much deeper theological significance. The Christian faith, just like the religion of the Old Testament, is preoccupied with a set of divine manifestations on the planet Earth. In the Old Testament, the Holy Land and Jerusalem in particular make up the two most important places in the journey of God with the people of Israel. In the New Testament, the incarnation makes place all-important. According to the Gospel of St. John, the eternal Logos became flesh, started ‘dwelling among us’ and ‘pitched his tent among us’ (John 1:10f.14) in the deserted vicinity around Bethlehem. In this sense, God became an inhabitant of the place ‘Earth’, becoming a neighbour to people in his surroundings. This very place, according to the tradition, is now marked by a silver star in the...
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