Tuesday 25 October 2011

a theology of post-place

I'm aware that what I'm about to write, may say more about my age and stage of life than other things. And they're half written thoughts, or is that, half thought writes? Years ago when someone left a place: they left. Went. And they'd still be able to be contacted, phone, mail, visits. Think particularly of school friends. As sixteen year olds, hanging out, going through the whole "exam experience". A connection that is built and promises to last. But then school turns into three or four colleges, or numerous employers, and suddenly that connection is shut down (or maybe just paused). After 6th form with a whole new set of friends, experiences, moments, another layer of potential life connections arise: and then: and then: and then: shut down, or maybe just paused, again. Then off to uni, or employment,.... And then postgrad.... And then jobs elsewhere... etc etc etc etc etc. Maybe all the above apply, or maybe only some, or maybe none. But the theme seems to be same. But sometimes something changes. As an undergraduate in approximately 1999 Friends Reunited appeared on my radar and suddenly, a connection could be remade - or at least a one way connection (unless you wanted to pay a fiver for two way communication). You could read what those old connections were up to. See from their point of view, who they were. A few years later, along came a certain book of faces. It became easier to keep in touch with those old friends you'd made such a connection with. It was possible for two way communication and to not only see how those "friends" saw themselves but how other saw them, which others saw them, and where and when they saw them (even to the point of them being able to log which shoe shop they were now at!). It also, it became easier to connect with the kids with the long face who sat three rows back in French in year 9. The conecpt of "friend" changed (and a whole host of other things........) From pre-internet, to Friends Reunited to Facebook the leaps have got bigger. Communication, digital and all that. But these leaps. Huge. Communication. Place. With each step the change in nostalgia, in memory, in experience, in choice jumped too. And with the ever expanding opportunities to return to past places via live streaming - a new leap has occurred. Obviously a change has taken place in what I'm writing about: people of connection, or places of connection. Sometimes both occur simultaneously , for a time at least. It is now possible to not only know what stage of life someone is at as in where they are and connect that way. But also to communicate two way. And to know someone through others. Or to know a place through others experiences of it. It now becomes possible to know a place or experience in a way that is distant, but also somewhat more closely connected. And I'm left wondering about nostalgia and connection and place and all sorts. The field has changed, perhaps its time for an update to John Inge's A Christian Theology of Place, to A Christian Theology of Post Place.

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