In class today we discussed what is “sacred” and what we believe to be sacred today but before I explore this, let me back track to what religion is. Durkheim has explained that religion “a system of symbols and rituals about the sacred that is practiced by a community of believers” (121). Religion varies among different cultures and is always changing over time. In other words, our society is a reflection of our religion today; crime is a social response. Therefore, what may have been considered sacred during his time may differ from today.
Now, how do we know what is sacred and what isn’t? According to Durkheim, “sacred refers to the extraordinary, that which is set apart from the ‘above and beyond’ the everyday world” (123). Aside from the obvious religious activities—attending church, praying etc.—there are other activities, which to the observer and the doer could classify as “extraordinary”. For example, the celebration of a sport during its high season. Avid football fans (or any sports fan) will schedule and host parties to watch a game together. Everyone attending may come dressed in specific clothing attire and behave in ways not used in one’s typical day. Some even tailgate and gather on a parking lot. These series of actions express how partying and getting together to watch a sports game is something extraordinary to them, something sacred.
Another example is how students prepare for their first day of school. The week before school starts, Staples, a popular supplies store, is packed with students of all ages. Going to Staples or any supplies store near by to buy notebooks, pens, paper etc. before the start of the semester is an activity that does not happen everyday. So, according to Durkheim, this specific epoch would be considered sacred.