The love of place is a potent and unavoidable aspect of our common life, and our sense of ourselves as a people, a nation. “I love a sunburnt country”! Love of place can seem to hold the keys to renewal and reconciliation, as in Tim Winton’s justly famous novel, Cloudstreet.
But love of place can also be distorted. It can float above the reality of place and become mesmerised by ideas and imaginations of place. When that happens, the dangers of exclusion and violence are never far away. Christian theology can help with this problem, disciplining our love of place by the light of the kingdom of God, reminding us that “Here we have no lasting city” (Heb. 13:14).
This lecture moves from Tim Winton to Saint Augustine, seeking to draw out some of the dynamics and promises of our love of place, to highlight its relevance to contemporary Australia, and to suggest how Christian theology can correct and enrich it, for the good of all of us.
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