located. I understood the altar as an object that designated a sacred space and indicated that something significant was happening there, that some transformation was occurring.


Another newspaper listing that I pursued was the 25th Anniversary Celebration for Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, at Hec Edmondson Pavilion on the University of Washington campus, where I had photographed many college basketball games for local newspapers. The listing caught my attention because the event seemed likely to involve making some secular space sacred by constructing an ad hoc altar.

The celebration was called an Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace, and the secular meeting ground provided a neutral space that belonged to no particular sect. When religion moves from its own sacred places into the secular world it sacralizes secular space for its own purposes. The religious functionaries perform a ritual, make an altar, and declare the space sacred, thereby creating both a place for a ceremony and religious meaning outside the conventional context or space of the church, where that meaning would be automatically present.

The master of ceremonies was a rabbi. The participants included a Christian boys’ choir from south of Seattle and a huge adult choir. A procession of local religious leaders, separated from the crowd by a curtain, formed in the back of the pavilion. Priests dressed in robes ran here and there with walkie-talkies, coordinating the ritual.

At the front of the pavilion Archbishop Hunthausen sat on a stage in a wicker armchair next to a potted tree (fig. 37). Behind him in ascending rows were a couple of hundred choir members, and hanging above them was a huge screen with a live video projection of Hunthausen’s face. A shiny gold cloth skirting the edge of the stage transformed it

Secular Space