Greetings from San Francisco! I’ve arrived safe and sound in the Bay Area, and have received warm hospitality from my lovely hosts. While you’re reading this I’ll be immersed in the proceedings of the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting, but yesterday I had some unstructured time, so I thought I’d spend it by visiting the legendary Fields Book Store, a vital outlet for metaphysical and esoteric material since 1932. Braving the BART and buses, and with the help of some kind elderly ladies, I soon arrived at my destination.
David Wiegleb, current owner of Fields, who I’ve interviewed via email for a variety of stories over the years, was gracious and open about the challenges of running a metaphysical bookstore in the current economic climate. Over the years he’s seen the number of metaphysical bookstores in the Bay Area greatly contract, and works hard to make sure the legacy of Fields remains in the years ahead.
What really hit home to me, after I made a couple purchases, was how essential shops like Fields really are in building community. They are hubs of local information, a place to check in, and a provider of resources for those looking to connect. Today I’ll be exploring theory, theology, and the latest scholarship regarding our interconnected faith communities, but it’s good to remember where community is created. The people and institutions who make sure there is a community to discuss, debate, and study. If you’re in San Francisco, take the time to make a pilgrimage to Fields, you’ll be glad you did!