Special Projects

*This page is under construction*

I’ll be updating this page extensively over the summer and fall. My 2006 master’s thesis has long deserved a home on the web, and while my website is still under development, I’ll be putting much of the initial content up here. You can see the provisional splash page now. Similarly, my 2013 dissertation, “Geographies of Prayer: Place and Religion in Modern America,” will become a number of different digital projects ranging from maps of prayerwalks, an archive of authors and publications about spiritual warfare, and perhaps even a wiki.  You can be alerted of these and other changes by subscribing to my RSS feed. –DWM 10/14/13

Geographies of Prayer:

Place and Religion in Modern America (2013)

by David McConeghy

The built environment has been a focus of the study of sacred space for decades. This dissertation examines late twentieth-century evangelical religious practices to show the construction of mobile, geographical, and imagined sacred spaces. The study thus identifies ways that space and spatial logic have become integral to the development of contemporary religion.

As the narrative recounts, by the late 1970s increasingly charismatic elements could be seen in mainstream evangelical mission strategies. Followers of two movements—Power Evangelism and Signs and Wonders—claimed they received spiritual gifts that were effective tools for church growth. A number, calling themselves spiritual warriors, began to emphasize their participation in a battle between God and Satan as a precondition for successful evangelism, and in this context mobile practices like prayerwalking became popular as spiritual warfare. In the global March For Jesus praise movement, warriors found that leaving the physical space of a church provided them better access to the sacred spaces most integral to their religious goals.

Obstacles to evangelism were often interpreted as the product of territorial demons. This led not only to new practices of mapping that pinpointed the location of demonic strongholds, but also to new conceptions of the world. For spiritual warriors, cultural problems from the past, such as disputes with indigenous peoples, became the source of present-day social problems. Proponents said they were discerning spiritual landscapes hidden in time and space, and then they mapped the results on contemporary places.

Finally, as the dissertation argues, the city has been a persistent backdrop for spiritual warfare. Evangelists saw danger and opportunity in the world’s growing urbanism. They also focused on the Bible’s many urban references. Cities were not only Babylons doomed to God’s judgment. They were also Jerichos for God’s army to conquer or Jerusalems waiting to be transformed by the coming Kingdom of God.

 

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

Shifting the Seat of Awakening (2006)

By David McConeghy

Over 2,000 years ago the Buddha was Awakened beneath a Bodhi tree. The site, Bodhgaya, would become a major pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and the temple built to honor this holy place would be copied to scale by enthusiastic Buddhists throughout Asia. Shifting the Seat of Awakening explores how the relationship between Buddhists and Bodhgaya changed over the course of its long history and pay special attention to the proliferation of copies of the temple by devout non-Indian Buddhists.

When it is completed this page will be a virtual extension of my Master’s thesis, complete with arguments from the original text of the thesis, photographs from my personal collection and fieldwork, and an extensive bibliography for further research. (Last updated: 11/30/12)