The Place of Place in Liturgical Theology Restricted; Files Only

Pierce, Matthew (Spring 2018)

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This thesis draws upon “place theory” to develop a new method for analyzing liturgical spaces while attending to the challenges of appropriating non-theological resources for theological purposes. To illustrate both the challenges of such appropriations as well as the potential gains, the new analytic method is developed in conversation with liturgical theology, which itself evinces reticence of drawing upon non-theological sources, especially the human sciences.


The first chapter locates the project within the traditional foci of liturgical studies, then introduces the major tasks of liturgical theology. The second chapter examines recent theological reflection on “place,” identifying the similarities with liturgical theology as well as important patterns—especially the use of spatial metaphors and pairings—within the arguments of theological reflection on place. The third chapter examines these patterns through the lens of phenomenology and neuroscience, suggesting that the shape of discourse on place has its origins in the particularities of human anatomy and physiology. These patterns indicate not only aspects of human emplacement, but also tools for place-making, thus allowing us to employ them as an analytic method for studying the creation and sustaining of places. The final chapter turns this new method upon early Methodist love feasts, which often did not meet in traditional “liturgical spaces.”


The resulting method for analyzing liturgical space extends the analytic reach of liturgical studies by enabling the analysis of ad hoc, impermanent places and the identification of some of the specific communal and individual goods entailed in the maintenance of ritual boundaries. Further, the method identifies a link between the maintenance of such boundaries and opportunities for greater freedom and openness within the group. Finally, this method sheds new light on the relationship between discourse about place and practices of place-making.

Table of Contents


Introduction, Walking through Recent Places 1

Material Matters 4

Hidden in Plain Sight 8

Together in One Place 10

Chapter 1, The Place of Place in Liturgical Studies 12

Turning to Place 14

The Problem with “Place” 19

The Place of Departure 22

The Chief Tasks of Liturgical Theology 23

Putting Place Alongside Liturgical Theology 50

Chapter 2, The Place of Place in Theology 54

The Turn to Place in Philosophy 55

The Vocabulary of Place 62

Materiality Affirmed in Word and Method 92

Looking Back on Place 106

Chapter 3, Place-Making as Technology 109

The Disappearing Body 112

Looking Back through the Disappearing Body 117

Excursus: Onto-Valuational Dualism, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi,

Place and Space 120

Spatial Metaphors We Live By 124

Place-Making as a Technology 142

Durable Effects of Another Sort 151

Understanding Emplacement through the Body 155

Chapter 4, The Love Feast as Place, The Liturgy as Place-Making 157

Love Feast in Its Methodist Context 160

The Ins and Outs of an Ad Hoc Place 165

Felt but Unseen Dimensions of an Ad Hoc Place 169

“Whither Grace?” 174

Zero Sum 177

Discourse and Practice 181

Conclusion, Remembering to Forget 185

From Embodiment to Emplacement 185

Gaining Ground 190

Next Steps 195

Before We Depart 196


Bibliography 197

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