The Sacred

Topics: Second Vatican Council, Religion, Émile Durkheim Pages: 4 (1156 words) Published: May 21, 2008
The sacred and its opposite the profane are distinguishable from within a certain religion, by it’s followers. Sacred objects, places or concepts are believed by followers to be intimately connected with God or a divinity and are thus greatly revered.

For a devotee or believer the world is split into the sacred or the profane. The German theologian Rudolf Otto, in The Idea of the Holy stated that the sacred was, derived from a sense of the numinous. The numinous is explained as a"non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self"1. According to Otto, the holy was grounded in individual feeling, the apprehension of something outside the individual and infinitely greater. The sacred is described as being the experience of awe, of the transcendent majesty, energy, and mystery of the wholly other. Depending on the translation of Otto’s The Idea of the Holy, the German word heilig can be determined as either holy or sacred.

Otto touches briefly on the profane as being a direct opposite of the sacred. He argues that the experience of the holy and the numinous leads to a personal sense of unworthiness. He states “the feeling of the absolute profaneness” creates a sense of worthlessness of the whole of ordinary existence and it is an inevitable consequence of the experience of the sacred.

Emile Durkheim states that "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.”2 Durkheim states that the sacred is representivtive of a groups interest and the sacred is utilized to bring that group to unity, through the use of sacred group symbols and rituals. Durkheim’s understanding of the sacred being a group or community embodiment, brings about his definition of the profane being an individuals concern of mundane every day things.

Religious music throughout the world meets with many of the widly held beliefs of what makes something...
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