In this recent talk, John McKnight draws on both Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann and comedian Dave Chappelle to talk about the neighborhood as a sacred space. Sacred spaces do not eliminate suffering. They provide a venue for sharing suffering, and for working together to heal. With his characteristic gentleness and insight, McKnight helps to create such a space in the virtual realm.
In his keynote talk for the Parish Collective’s Inhabit 2020 At Home Conference, John draws on insights from Walter Brueggemann and Dave Chapelle to explain how participants can turn their neighborhoods into sacred places.
When John asked him what makes a sacred place, Brueggemann said: A sacred place is where there are deep memories of both great suffering and glad forgiveness and where there are big promises not yet kept but still trusted. From Chapelle, John borrows an analogy of death as the incineration of a great library: Everything we have to share, everything we have to give, everything we have to tell is gone and our memory can become ashes.
But, John says, if we have a sacred place where these three gifts become manifest and visible, we will create a culture that carries forward and we will not be in ashes. We will be in community as each of our neighborhoods manifests our memories. We create a collective memory, a culture. Our neighborhood becomes a place where stories are told and gifts are given and suffering is shared.