A sacred space: Revolutionary War graveyard along Germantown Avenue
Last night, during the first official session of my intensive course, “Introduction to Public Theology”, we were given an in class writing assignment. The question involved the current debate whether the islamic center should be built near ground zero or not. Specifically, is ground zero a sacred space?
The professor walked out of the room and I began to organize my thoughts. I started writing, my first instinct to discuss the 17th century ship that was recently discovered at Ground Zero. My plan was to lead in to a discussion of how all of lower manhattan is a sacred space of some sort – a struggle to expand and develop more space, more living room, more places to do business and worship. The 17th century ship was an extension of that idea – used as landfill to extend the shoreline into the Hudson. The Islamic Center should be built because it is another type of sacred space that, above all, is not in competition with the surrounding areas. The Islamic Center is a sacred space with, and within, other sacred spaces. Lower Manhattan is a significant to a large number of religions – civil religion, the market, wealth, empire, history, American identity, and the story of christianity in America. Manhattan matters (and don’t hate me for saying that – us New Yorkers do tend to overvalue our place in the world quite often but, in this case, I think I’m not far off the mark).
That last paragraph did not take much time to write at the moment but I had a hard time cranking that out last night. Rather, I started in slowly and I was also writing by hand which I haven’t done regularly for years. After a few moments, the professor came back and told us to wrap it up. I was no where near answering the question nor finishing any of my thoughts. I hastily tried to throw a sentence or two together but I realized I couldn’t write what I needed to write so I just finished, mid sentence, with “…and I ran out of time.” Honesty is the best policy sometimes, no?