Sacred Space in a Secular World, November 2nd Hour


Nicolas C. Howe of the Williams College Environmental Studies Program will address the issue of Sacred Space in a Secular World at First Church’s Second Hour, November 6th, 11:20 am.  He will discuss how American environmentalists have navigated the religious/secular divide in battles over wilderness preservation.

His book Landscape of the Secular: Law, Religion and American Sacred Space was recently published by the University of Chicago Press. At Williams he studies the relationship between religious and environmental thought in America from the perspective of cultural geography and teaches in the environmental humanities.

To quote the University of Chicago Press website talking about this title:
“What does it mean to see the American landscape in a secular way?” asks Nicolas Howe at the outset of this innovative, ambitious, and wide-ranging book. It’s a surprising question because of what it implies: we usually aren’t seeing American landscapes through a non-religious lens, but rather as inflected by complicated, little-examined concepts of the sacred.

Fusing geography, legal scholarship, and religion in a potent analysis, Howe shows how seemingly routine questions about how to look at a sunrise or a plateau or how to assess what a mountain is both physically and ideologically, lead to complex arguments about the nature of religious experience and its implications for our lives as citizens. In American society—nominally secular but committed to permitting a diversity of religious beliefs and expressions—such questions become all the more fraught and can lead to difficult, often unsatisfying compromises regarding how to interpret and inhabit our public lands and spaces. A serious commitment to secularism, Howe shows, forces us to confront the profound challenges of true religious diversity in ways that often will have their ultimate expression in our built environment. This provocative exploration of some of the fundamental aspects of American life will help us see the land, law, and society anew.

Second Hour at the Meetinghouse is a lively non-denominational speaker/discussion series examining issues in social justice, religious history, art, the relationships between religions, or other subjects. These events are open to the entire community. The name “second hour” refers to the fact that these events occur after the Sunday morning worship service, but there is no expectation that you need attend the worship service in order to come to the second hour event. These events are held in Community Hall towards the back of the building, near the parking lot. Events usually start at 11:20 am. There is coffee before hand, starting about 11:00 am.

You do need not be affiliated with First Church to attend and participate in second hour events.

If you missed this fascinating talk, you can watch it below, thanks to our partners at Willinet!