The Space Between
A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment
Eric O. Jacobsen, Baker Academic
The book enters a most significant area of inquiry, one that in terms of applied theology is long overdue.
The church finds it hard to be analytic about its sacred spaces and the practices they engender and determine, whether through explicit orthodox layering, or implicitly and often unacknowledged, in protestant spaces that claim neutrality in reaction to religious embellishment.
The church as a whole needs to rethink, adapt and optimise its physical spaces and assets — to theorise outside of the ecclesiastical and historical frameworks that constrain and condition the foundations of worship and belief — in ways not necessarily biblical or well suited to contemporary life.
This book offers readable, sustained illustrated and well-intentioned perspectives on secular as well as religious built environments.
However, despite its length, it needs a more concise and rigorous style that a theoretically informed and referenced scholarship would allow. It lacks concepts that would allow a dynamic and wide-ranging sense of how human and spiritual behaviour interact with physical environments across a gamut of cultural, historical, media and emergent contexts.
Jacobsen assumes a conventional, even common sense, approach to social and religious practice, and is unable to envisage eschatological prospects predicated on fresh understandings of church spaces.
His book adopts a conversational, pastoral tone that assumes more assurances and authority than the subject matter evidences. As part of a suite of books on this important area this one would find a place; however, that suite has yet to be written.