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What Makes the Sacred Sacred? The Consequences of the Ultimate Comparison

CHUM 336
Spring 2016
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: RELI 291, ARHA 239
Certificates: International Relations, Middle Eastern Studies
Course Cluster: Christianity Studies

What are the political, social, and religious consequences when the term "sacred" is used to describe an object, place, time, or person? Using examples such as Jewish, Christian, and Muslim views of Jerusalem, Lakota Sioux recognition of wicasa wakan (medicine men), and Hindu engagements with divine images, this seminar will explore this question as well as the translatability of the word for non-Christian and non-Western views of social and cosmic order.

Sacred, sacrifice, sacrament, saint, consecrate, sacrilege, desecrate. The many words associated with it demonstrate how the idea of sacredness pervades the English language. "Sacred" serves as a common qualifier that implicitly suggests a similarity in the structure of religious practices, experiences, and worldviews, while describing a difference between the mundane and the spiritual or religious. European imperialism projected such a universal use of the notion, whitewashing important divergences with non-Christian religions. So what makes the sacred sacred? And how do communities used notions like (and unlike) sacrality to know and engage natural, human, and superhuman environments?

This course is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this seminar do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS CHUM
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CGST-MN)(GSAS)(MEST-MN)(MUST-MN)(RELI-MN)(RELI)(SISP-Reli Conc)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on FEB-28-2024
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