The Sacred and the Profane
By Mircea Eliade

I read this book in one of my college classes. Eliade explains what lies at the center of certain faiths, religions and spiritual systems. He talks about how each faith defines a "center of the world" and how most practitioners want to be as close as possible to that sacred site. Certainly we're watching that in the Middle East. Some of us ask, "Why are people squabbling over that piece of land?" According to Eliade, everything emanates from the believers being able to stand on that land; if they can't do that, chaos ensues. I grew up in a Congregational Church and have a very loose sense of the divine, but one night I was going back over the high points of my life, the times when I felt as if the little shell I'd developed had cracked open: the birth of my daughter, when I fell in love with my husband, when I worked with friends to start a theater company. Eliade talks about how even people who don't worship a particular faith are still influenced by the idea of the sacred. You may not mark time by church rituals, but we all respond to certain life passages; whether or not you're part of a spiritual system, you're going to have those moments.


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