Natural or Political Public Space? Spaces of Interpretation, Environmentalism, and the Sacred Depth

in Spaces in-between
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This essay identifies the hermeneutical and theological dimensions of the public square by reflecting on the space between shared interpretations of political and natural places. Approached with an emphasis on the “in-between” of spaces, the public square is seen as “meta-spatial space” that gathers together the spaces inhabited by political and natural communities. The differences between political and natural space are shown, in order to allow complementary hermeneutical lenses to exist between the two levels of space. On the one hand, the political sphere is a metaphorical space in human society, wherein we seek to imagine new possibilities for common life. Here, the community is defined through interpretation of political construction of public space. On the other hand, human existence also includes the literal space of the experience of environments. Next, a hermeneutical complementarity between the political and the natural as dimensions of the meaning of space is suggested. Through this complementarity the public square emerges as a space between spaces. Environmentalism, from the perspective of this view, should interpret how we bring value to the intersubjective places inhabited by humans and the more-than-human world. Finally theological reflection brings coherence to this meta-spatial space of the public square. Religious thought is tasked with transforming the in-between space into a place. The unity of place in the midst of the multiplicity of public and private spaces expresses an encounter with the otherness of the Sacred.

Spaces in-between

Cultural and Political Perspectives on Environmental Discourse

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