The Psychology and Theology of Place: A Perspective from the Judeo-Christian Tradition

  • Fraser WattsEmail author


This chapter takes an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together how place has been understood and experienced in the Judeo-Christian tradition with recent psychological approaches to the significance of place. The first part of the chapter focuses on natural environments, taking the Hebrew Bible as a significant cultural document providing insights into how the sense of place evolved as nomadic life gave way to permanent settlements, and as early animistic consciousness faded and was replaced by one with a stronger sense of inhabiting a created environment. The significance of religious buildings is then considered. Sometimes a building takes on religious significance for a particular individual; sometimes a body of people develop together a shared understanding of its religious importance. Sometimes God is felt to speak powerfully to a person in a particular place; sometimes there is a more complicated sense of both presence and absence, as in the poetry of R. S. Thomas. Finally, there is a discussion of the religious ambivalence about place. Religious traditions partly venerate particular places, but they can also have a sense of the importance of transcending attachment to them.


Theology of place Place attachment Religious buildings Natural environments 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LincolnLincolnUK

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