Blog 1: What Is Sacred?

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.

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4 responses to “Blog 1: What Is Sacred?

  1. i definitely agree that football games have become something sacred to our population. Many people in the modern day, are willing to sit on their couch for several hours, watch every single play without even blinking. Many activities coincide with this ritual, such as parties, wearing jerseys, going to games, and tailgating. Once football season hits, our society suddenly changes. Durkheim would see this and definitely consider the idea of football season being sacred to many people. One would think it was a religious practice for the way some people become so emotional about it.

  2. To me football, and sports fandom, seems to be one of the best examples of what is sacred in modern society. I have a lucky jersey that I need to wear while watching, a certain seat in the TV room that I must occupy, and a host of random superstitions that I believe contribute to the Giants’ success. All of these are in line with Durkheim’s ideas about religion and the sacred. There are clear symbols, rituals, and gatherings. While I know that these superstitions are ridiculous, and these charades are mostly done with en element of jest, it seems that when most fans see their team struggling, they’ll do almost anything to right the ship. Believing in some external power like the “football gods” may be part performance, but there’s an element of truth to it that is exactly what Durkheim describes with regards to religious observances.

  3. I have to agree with the post on what is sacred in modern society. The example of football being is sacred is perfect, every week there is a sunday ritual where people come around and sit together to watch a football game. There are sometimes a sacred jersey that must be worn or your favorite team will lose or even a ritual that must be done everytime someone scores a touchdown. In modern society, non-religious events have become sacred to people.

  4. Your example of football being something scared is something I believe everyone can agree with. Many individuals in society whether they have something they prioritize that is small or big, seasonal, or temporary can become scared to them. This can be as you defined through the expression of the rituals and the symbols which may be used, for lack of a better word, a way to praise what is scared to them at the moment. In regards to your description on how football with the symbols being the jerseys and other sports gears and their rituals being their sunday gatherings, your descriptions are perfect examples on how you can connect something anyone follows and what they do as sacred. Great blog post!

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