Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gardens, Sacraments and the Olympic Games

In David Brown's Oxford University Press book God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience, Brown writes about what happens when more conventional religions retreat from areas such as sports, and he discusses the Olympic games in this regard and how they were originally infused with spiritual and religious significance. "A vacuum is left, and in its place come alternative spiritualities, but because there is no longer any established tradition of what is appropriate religious discourse in such contexts, there are modelled superficially on the science of the day. Sadly, it is in effect a retreat to magic, if we understand by magic the attempt to control the spiritual influences on one's life by formal rule and regulation. Sacrament, by contrast, because it includes an element of divine initiative, is more open to mystery and unpredictability: God may promise his presence but how that will work out in practice is yet to be seen, and so faith must await in hope what will happen. The varied character of plants also ensures en element of unpredictability in how gardens are, as a matter of fact, experienced by their owners. So a sacramental understanding of gardens could possibly be argued to be nearer to their true character than even the most careful or cautious application of Feng Shui."
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