From Place to Placelessness
Distributed for Columbia College Chicago Press
What does it mean to be religious in the modern world? This is the question posed by well-known human geographer, Yi-Fu Tuan in Religion: From Place to Placelessness. In this, the latest book in his long and distinguished career, Tuan turns to this specific challenge, which has been a uniting current in much of his previous work. To illustrate the modern meaning of religion, Tuan calls on the work of photographer-artist Martha A. Strawn, whose impressive gallery of photographs from around the world concludes the book.
Religion, Tuan argues, is a perennial quest for safety, certainty, and spiritual elevation that began oriented in place and particular cultural practices; but, in its highest reaches, religion moves toward universalism and placelessness. Drawing examples from both Christian and Buddhist traditions, Tuan explores, with his characteristic grace, sensitivity, and insight, the ultimate placelessness of religious experience. Tuan’s meditations combine with the elegance of Strawn’s photographs to create a book that is both thought-provoking and quietly beautiful.
“Tuan brings his many years of reflection to bear on a range of questions in a way that provides unique illumination. His thoughts will be of interest not only to people who have followed his work, but also to individuals searching for alternative ways of thinking about religious and spiritual issues. Martha A. Strawn’s photographs and short essays, in their own right, add much to the discussion.”