My friend Don recently offered some thoughts on at the Ecclessia network’s “Denver 2010” event. While I wasn’t able to make it to Denver, Don was kind enough to share some of his written thoughts with me. I am going to be kind enough to share them with you because I loved what he had to say about “placelessness” and the mission of God:
The Son of God incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth – a particular human, to a particular place. In fact, God as Jesus practiced stability in Israel for thirty years before prophetically speaking into his place. It seems that “placeness” is very important to God. However, in our culture we face a new problem: the problem of “placelessness.”
I spend some of my writing and studying days in Starbucks. Most of you have never been to East Hollywood, Los Feliz, or Larchmont – yet you know this place I spend my time. You know the smell of the burnt coffee; you may even know you prefer the leather chairs to the wooden ones, because we all share this common experience. Whenever you’re in Starbucks, Target, or your favorite fast food restaurant – you aren’t really in your own city – you are somehow in mine. Whenever you get caught up in texting or emailing, you likely could care less about your place, or notice the needs and longings of those sitting next to you. You are in that moment “placeless,” and experiencing “placelessness.”
Even if you prefer a kitschy coffee shop, or live in a craftsman style house, these aren’t much different than the ones in my city, because all of our locations are losing their placeness. In Kunstler’s “Geography of Nowhere,” he states that 80% of everything ever built in the U.S. has been built in the last 50 years, and most of it has been homogenized into a depressing, unhealthy mess of uniformity that promotes placelessness. Through our culture’s veneration of mobility, and its growing placelessness, each corner of God’s creation is losing its unique value, as are God’s children to us in those places as well. It doesn’t really matter which barista at which coffee shop hands you your coffee, as long as you get what you want, right?
I believe that in our constantly mobile culture, the success of God’s mission in our communities is relative to the stability that our churches promote and provide.