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Document Details :
Title: 'Locus Theologicus'
Subtitle: Place, Theology and Globalization
Author(s): PILARIO, Daniel Franklin
Volume: 63 Issue: 1 Date: 2002
The metaphor of space/place has always been crucial to theological discourse. Throughout its history, theology has expressed itself in spatial images correlative to its concomitant culture. The phenomenon of globalization makes possible a revolution in the concept of space/place. It is this transformation which we seek to examine in order to bear out some methodological consequences for theological reflection. This article consists in three parts. First, we explore the notions of space in two contemporary theorists of globalization – Anthony Giddens and David Harvey. We have seen that both Giddens’ “empty spaces” and Harvey’s “compression of time and space”, even as they partly describe the present-day global situation, are also deficient if only considered individually. In a second step, we propose to integrate into the analytical framework Raymond Williams’ concept of “placeable social identities” as establishing a complementary relationship between Giddens and Harvey. In this powerful spatial metaphor, Williams has argued for the primacy of real “placeable” communities of peoples where meaning is constantly constructed and negociated. His assertion of identifiable settlements and rooted communal identities is an antidote to the often ideological talk (most common among intellectuals and the economically well-off) of the high-speed movement and constantly shifting identities in globalization. But these are not nostalgic identities since in their borders, they constantly reshape their own meanings and valuations as they interact with contemporary global challenges. In a third move, we examine two spatial views of the church (and consequently), two ways of doing theology) as response to globalization: Milbank’s “enclave” and Schreiter’s “World Church”. While Milbank’s discourse of the “difference” of the Christian traditions echoes the postmodern sensibilities of a globalized world, his concept of the Church as “enclave” also reminds us of a reactionary persecuted Church which hides behind its mantle the rhetoric of universalism characteristic of an isolated minority. Schreiter’s “World Church” is much more open; but his concern for “universality” and “catholicity” almost erases the asymmetry and disruption which the global culture has done to Two-Thirds of the world population. Beyond Milbank and Schreiter (whose frameworks, in different degrees, are reminiscent of Giddens and Harvey), we conclude by suggesting that Williams’ placeable social identities may thus provide a metaphor for theorizing spatiality in a global world that would be consistent with liberative theological methodology.