Friday, July 13, 2012

Sacred Space

Monday, July 16

Next week we'll begin our unit on Neil Gaiman's American Gods.  For Monday we'll read a solid chunk of this novel, along with excerpts from Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane, a classic text in religious studies scholarship.

Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (excerpts)
   Read Eliade first, and give him some time.  Eliade was a comparative thinker, meaning that he gathered a large variety of accounts about indigenous religions and looked for commonalities.  His examples are often fun and interesting, and his conclusions are thought provoking.  His theory of sacred space also directly ties to Gaiman's text.

Gaiman, American Gods, 1-154
   This first chunk of American Gods may seem like a lot, but it is a fast and fun read.  A lot of strange characters will be introduced in these pages, but they're all coming back.  Gaiman doesn't waste any plot elements in this book.  

RP2 due Monday
   The second response paper is also due Monday, on the following prompt:

Describe Eliade's theory of "sacred space."  What are some characteristics of sacred space, and how is it made and maintained?  What is an "axis mundi?"

Looking forward to your comments below!



    'Who Loves the Sun?' by the Velvet Underground, mentioned in ch. 2 of American Gods. A great song by a greater band.

  2. I'd like to comment on a link I made with the readings from 'The Sacred and the Profane." I noticed that in particular, Eliade addresses the issue of how people stay within their own circle, their own city, their own civilization, as it is indicative of the presence of god, acting as an omnipresent reminder that their is something to their religious beliefs, if only because of their own work. Shinto is the native religion of Japan, and has a very blatant case as Eliade describes as only concerning oneself with the origins of ones own cosmos, as that is all that matters. Shinto's creation myth details only the creation of the islands of Japan, and of the creation of the people of Japan, as direct descendants of the Kami, or gods. At no point does Shinto appear to account for the creation of other peoples, or even the rest of the world, and they do not attempt to explain that at a later date, or leave even an ambiguous semi-answer. I thought this was an interesting example of the 'cosmos' homebody type scenario so many peoples are involved in.

  3. As much as I'm daunted by the prospect, I'd need to read the rest of this work to get a better sense of my discussion point . It seems to me that Eliade is only taking into account the religions and cultures that fit into his theory regarding sacred spaces. What he fails to bring up in this writing are the less physical and worldly religions such as Shinto, as Daniel mentioned, or even what I like to call "Secular Religions" such as the Cargo Cults of the South Pacific (which are absolutely amazing, get on Wikipedia and find out for yourself). There are also cultural obsessions which have turned into concrete beliefs nearing religion status, such as television or shopping. None of these follow Elaides structural theory of tri-level spaces becoming a basis for civilization.