sacredness in modern life

Durkheim’s definition of religion was a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden, beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church. Two main things make up religions, such as rituals and symbols. Yet, when taking the idea of a sacred object or event out of the idea of religion, it is evident that sacred practices are known to us in everyday life.
Something to consider to be known as sacred are television shows. Im not talking about sitcoms or comedies, im talking about the dramas and intense hour long shows we all wait for at the end of the week. For example, the show Breaking bad has its series finale this past sunday. Not only did 11 million people watch this hour episode, but people stopped what they were doing and sat themselves infront of a television screen. As much as i love the show myself, for millions of people to be stopping their normal evening activities just to see the end of this series, makes me believe that shows like these are in fact sacred even though it has nothing to do with religion. One may also call this a ritual. Ritual can be defined as a formalized mode of behavior in which the members of a community regularly engage. With that being said, if a large group of people regularly engage in an activity at the same time, on the same day with no exceptions, according to Durkheim, i would consider this a ritual.


3 responses to “sacredness in modern life

  1. Based on Durkheim’s conception of sacred, it seems as though I’m a devout member of many different religions. TV is a great example, and I’m glad you chose a timely reference like Breaking Bad’s series finale, because I was definitely part of the ritual. I wasn’t able to watch the finale in real time ( I was busy worshipping Sunday Night Football), but I refrained from checking Twitter so that my religious experience of watching the finale wouldn’t be sullied by any spoilers. When it finally came time to watch, I shut off my phone and eliminated all potential distractions, to give the episode the respect and focus that it deserved. It’s interesting to use this framework to look at the aspects of modern life that we collectively hold as “sacred.” Social life definitely seems to be inherently religious when we do.

  2. I completely with your idea on Durkheim’s concept of sacred. I myself follow 20+ shows religiously and some of them are so important to me to the point that I will put aside work and other obligations to just sit and watch a tv screen for a full hour. If that’s not considered sacred, then what is? The points you make in your blog are spot on and apply to most people I think. Whether it is TV, sports, shopping, or something else, most people have that one thing or more than one thing that they hold sacred.

  3. I completely agree with you in that in modern society, certain tv shows become sacred to people. I have to say that I was one of those 11 million people who stopped what they were doing to watch the series finale. It became a weekly ritual of stopping whatever I was doing to watch this show.

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