Cover image for Landscapes of the sacred : geography and narrative in American spirituality
Landscapes of the sacred : geography and narrative in American spirituality
Lane, Belden C., 1943-
Personal Author:
Expanded edition.
Publication Information:
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
xii, 310 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL2525 .L36 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This substantially expanded edition of Belden C. Lane's Landscapes of the Sacred includes a new introductory chapter that offers three new interpretive models for understanding American sacred space. Lane maintains his approach of interspersing shorter and more personal pieces among full-length essays that explore how Native American, early French and Spanish, Puritan New England, and Catholic Worker traditions has each expressed the connection between spirituality and place.
A new section at the end of the book includes three chapters that address methodological issues in the study of spirituality, the symbol-making process of religious experience, and the tension between place and placelessness in Christian spirituality.

Author Notes

Belden C. Lane is the Hotfelder Distinguished Professor in the Humanities in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This updated and expanded version of the 1988 edition introduces the study of sacred place and spirituality--a geography of spirituality; the spirituality of geography. Lane (theological studies, Saint Louis Univ.) explains that his book is "concerned with ordinary landscapes, seen--with the eyes of faith--in binary vision." In part 1, attention is directed to the phenomenology of sacred places and the cultural, political, and ecological foundations of places. The five chapters of part 2 each address specific traditions in American spirituality in terms of the relationship of the sacred to their spatial contexts. In each case, the analytical richness is accompanied by adjunct exercises in impressionistic engagements with the intangibles of religious experience of places. Part 3 engages issues relating to the methodology of studying religion and place in American culture: the role of American mobility; the meaning of space and place; interdisciplinarity in the study of religions; the construction and deconstruction of places in the human imagination. Lane's vast array of case studies and allusions is analyzed by a fertile imagination that bounces between ethnography, iconography, phenomenology, and poetics. A joy to read, this richly footnoted study is mind-boggling in its provocative assertion of the deep mysteries of place-bound identities. For all readers and collections. B. Osborne Queen's University at Kingston

Table of Contents

Preface to the Johns Hopkins Edition
Introduction: Place and Meaning in American Spirituality
Part 1 Place in American Religious Life
Chapter 1 Axioms for the Study of Sacred Place
Chapter 2 Giving Voice to the Place: Three Models for Understanding American Sacred Space
Part 2 The Geography of American Spiritual Traditions
Mythic Landscapes: The Ordinary as Mask for the Holy
Chapter 3 Seeking a Sacred Center: Places and Themes in Native American Spirituality
Mythic Landscapes: The Mountain That Was God
Chapter 4 Baroque Spirituality in New Spain and New France
Mythic Landscapes: The Desert Imagination of Edward Abbey
Chapter 5 The Puritan Reading of the New England Landscape
Mythic Landscapes: Galesville, Wisconsin: Locus Mirabilis
Chapter 6 The Correspondence of Spiritual and Material Worlds in Shaker Spirituality
Mythic Landscapes: Liminal Places in the Evangelical Revival
Chapter 7 Precarity and Permanence: Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Sense of Place
Part 3 Method and Perspective in Studying American Spirituality and Place
Chapter 8 The Ephemeral Character of Place: Problems in Articulating an American Sense of Sacred Space
Chapter 9 Edwards and the Spider as Symbol: Reflections on Spirituality as an Academic Discipline
Chapter 10 The Imagined Landscape: The Tension between Place and Placelessness in Christian Spirituality