The entire material world can be divided between the Natural Environment and the Built Environment. Over the past forty years, the Natural Environment has received more attention of the two, but that is beginning to change. With a renewed interest in "place" within various academic disciplines and the practical issues of rising fuel costs and scarcity of land, the Built Environment has emerged as a coherent and engaging subject for academic and popular consideration.
While there is a growing body of work on the Built Environment, very little approaches it from a distinctly Christian perspective. This major new work represents a comprehensive and grounded approach. Employing tools from the field of theology and culture, it demonstrates how looking at the Built Environment through a theological lens provides a unique perspective on questions of beauty, justice, and human flourishing.
In The Space Between, Eric O. Jacobsen sets himself two goals: to get us to attend to urban space--the space between the buildings in a city or village--and to explain why Christians in particular should care about the quality of urban space. He succeeds admirably on both counts; cities will look different to you once you have read this book. Along the way he also introduces us to some of the most recent writings on urban space, and he offers a compelling explanation of why the urban space of our present-day American cities came to be as it is and why we should be dissatisfied with it. It's a fine contribution to an extremely important topic that has been neglected for too long by too many.
Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University; senior fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia
Jacobsen's book awakens us from our Gnostic slumbers. It reminds us that as embodied beings, we not only move through space but inhabit particular places. And it asks us how we ought to make and dwell in the built environment to the glory of God. The Space Between takes us on an eye-opening tour of the places that both shape and reflect us. Readers may never look at their homes, neighborhoods, towns, and churches in the same way again. This is an important first step in reclaiming the locality of the local church.
-Kevin J. Vanhoozer- , research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Jesus urges us to love our neighbor, but in many modern cities we have destroyed our neighborhoods, making it much more difficult to know who our neighbors are let alone love them. In this compelling and beautifully written book Eric Jacobsen tells us how that has happened, why it matters, and what we should be doing about it. This book calls us to think again, and more theologically, about the way our built environment shapes our life together. It invites us to consider how, through the shaping of our neighborhoods, we may participate more faithfully in the coming kingdom of God.
professor of theology, University of Otago
The Space Between presses the argument for the importance of the built environment to the mission of the church, deepening the challenge before us of partnering in the emerging kingdom of God. Jacobsen demonstrates that the church's intellectuals are bringing to bear on the world of ideas the insights of Christian theology and their own intuitive experiences of the places they inhabit. Given the scale of what we have built--from the sprawling exurbs to the troubled cities--there is much to say and do. The Space Betweenopens our imaginations to see that the places we make can and should be sustainable realizations of beauty and places of justice.
-Christopher C. Miller-,
assistant chair for graduate programs, department of architecture, Judson University
Eric Jacobsen's The Space Between is a seasoned Presbyterian pastor's account of the reciprocal relationship between urban form and communal life. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, 'Life in society must be considered first and foremost as a spiritual reality.' And Jacobsen, working from a Christ-centered perspective emphasizing both justice and generosity, articulates not only for pastors and laypeople but also for neo-traditional urbanists what religious communities have to gain from traditional towns and neighborhoods, and what they have to give. Highly recommended.
-Philip Bess, director of graduate studies, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture; author, Till We Have Built Jerusalem
Eric Jacobsen's The Space Between continues the project he began a decade ago with Sidewalks in the Kingdom: paying careful attention to the 'built' environments in which we live. Jacobsen's work is on a par with that of our best culture critics and analysts such as Robert Bellah, Christopher Lasch, and Neil Postman, and I don't make this comparison lightly. What Jacobsen delivers is careful and learned. It is persuasive. Moreover, it is profoundly biblical. If relevance matters, if incarnational presence matters, if connecting to our culture and our neighbors matters, The Space Between along with Sidewalks in the Kingdom is absolutely requiredreading for pastors and thoughtful Christian laity.
-David W. Gill-, Mockler-Phillips Professor of Workplace Theology & Business Ethics and director, Mockler Center for Faith & Ethics in the Workplace, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Jacobsen (Sidewalks in the Kingdom) offers a fascinating and thorough examination of the development and role of spatial relationships within a human-built environment and how it affects the human situation This is not another tome about 'going green' but a serious, meticulous examination of the physical apparatus, animated by human players, that makes cultures thrive, communities effervesce, and people feel as if they belong somewhere. It is a formidable read that demands resolve of the reader. But its worth justifies its heft. It is an excellent choice for the college classroom and students studying the social sciences.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)