For better or worse, the shopping mall is part of American language, mythology, everyday life, and culture. It is the new village square, encompassing all the social and economic forces associated with that expression of human community.
What does it all mean? It is Zepp's contention that the phenomenology of religion offers the most illuminating interpretive lens through which to view at a deeper, more human level the meaning and magnetism of the mall. In The New Religious Image of Urban America, Zepp adopts a novel way of looking at things around him -- circles, crosses, squares, trees, fountains, flags, stone monuments -- and how these objects are symbols of human community. In the same way, he relates the architecture of shopping malls -- including fountains, streams, and trees -- to the archetypes of human and religious traditions. Zepp asserts that for many people the shopping mall represents a substitute for ancient sacred centres.
This is the only book that deals with the religious dimensions of malls. First published in 1986, it has been updated and expanded to include a new chapter on airports and ball parks as forms of the mall, and a critical response.