Thoughts, Engagements, and Updates

23 Dec 2017

Place Attachment in the Bible


I am truly honoured to publish a joint-work on the role of place attachment in religion with Fraser Watts in the Journal of Psychology and Theology 45(3): 218-232. Dr Watts is currently the Visiting Professor in Psychology of Religion at the University of Lincoln, and previously served as Reader in Theology and Science at Cambridge University, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology in the University of London, Principal Psychologist at King’s College Hospital, and Senior Scientist at the UK Medical Research Council’s Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge. He was also active in the British Psychological Society, where he served as President. It has also been quite a humbling experience working with Dr Watts on the role of place attachment in religion at his Cambridge Institute for Applied Psychology and Religion where I have been nominated as Research Associate.

In this joint-publication, we examined place attachment in the bible and the extent to which the Christian faith transcends devotion to sacred settings. Find the full-text here.

Here is an excerpt from the paper:

“Though there is a strong case for the role of place attachment in the Bible, the attachments we have examined differ among themselves in interesting ways. In the Old Testament, there are attachments to Mount Sinai, Canaan, and Jerusalem, but they are all of different kinds. Sinai is the seat of authority and holiness and a target for proximity engagement between God and the children of Israel. The Promised Land of Canaan plays a very key role, and exile from it is both traumatic and idolatrous. Jerusalem is more of a cultural creation but becomes a very important source of identity. In the New Testament, both Galilee and Jerusalem play significant roles in the ministry of Jesus, but in different ways. Galilee seems to be a safe haven for the lowly and oppressed, but Jerusalem had a special magnetic draw for a messianic figure. After Jesus’ death, there is an interesting ambiguity about where the disciples will find him again, whether Jesus had gone ahead of them to Galilee, or whether they should wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the spirit. As Christianity develops there is also an interesting balance between a continuing reverence for Jerusalem as the locus of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the belief that Christianity transcends attachment to any particular place.”

I believe that research on the intersection of place and religion introduces a new perspective in the psychology of religion and compels researchers to consider human experiences, within the context of environmental settings, as important phenomena accounting for both spirituality and religious experience. I have conceptualised this phenomenon as place spirituality in many of my forthcoming papers which can be found here once available. I look forward to publishing additional materials on this theory and how the psychology of religion community receives the place spirituality thesis.

– Victor Counted

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