As readers of my posts may discern, I am very interested in questions concerning where people live out their lives, how they live in those places, and the consequences of both. Housing segregation plays a prominent role in my book project on Catholic civil rights activism (hopefully to be in print in about 18 months!). In the past year and a half, I've had the opportunity to read widely and think further about the connections between places, religion, and race. I'd like to share some of my thoughts, and welcome your feedback, as I explore not only Catholicism, place and race, but evangelicalism, place, and race as well.
American society is one in which places have been replaced by space, which has led to a culture of homelessness.* Homelessness is often conceived as a problem plaguing the poor and marginalized who stay in shelters or live on the streets. Yet homelessness also includes the affluent who have few ties to a particular place, who do not have a place that can orient them to the world. According to the writer Wendell Berry, "our present leaders – people who have wealth and power – do not know what it means to take place seriously: to think it worthy, for its own sake, of love and careful work. They cannot take any place seriously because they must be ready at any moment, by the terms of power and wealth in the modern world, to destroy any place."** This destruction could be literal, or the severing of ties because one moves to indulge career aspirations.