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Dr. Fairen - Religious Studies Theories and Methods 14

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Religious Studies
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Glen Fairen

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RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200 *EMILE DURKHEIM SACRED & PROFANE the community is sacred, the individual is profane he was not just interested in ancient religion, dismissing it as an evolutionary left over. he was really interested in looking at our own religion, finding an account for it (not cure it or ease its passing), looking for an explanation of the modern experience of religion. BUT he looks at the more atomic form in the australian aborigines because it is less nuanced in his opinion. uses Spencer and Gillen, two field anthropologists doing ethnographies in Australia. TRIBE => PHRATRIES => CLANS each identifying with a separate totem TOTEMISM is the easiest way to understand sacred vs. profane in these societies of this kind: you can kill and eat animals that are not your totem. your totem can only be killed and eaten in special ceremonies. IT IS NOT THE ANIMAL OR PLANT THAT IS SACRED IN ITSELF, BUT THE SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION OF THE THING. so the kangaroo is sacred, but much more sacred is the symbol or idea or the representation of the kangaroo. it is not just sacred but is the very model of the thing that is essentially sacred. an actual kangaroo is not the perfect kangaroo. when clan gathers for ceremony, the totem symbol is in the center of the happenings. TOTEMISM governed the most basic categories and classifications of the world. THE KANGAROO CLAN DID NOT ACTUALLY WORSHIP A KANGAROO, THE WORSHIP THEY ARE COMMITTING IS TO AN ANONYMOUS AND IMPERSONAL FORCE FOUND IN THESE BEINGS BUT NOT TO BE CONFOUNDED IN THEM. IT IS IMPERSONAL. NONE POSSESSES IT ALONE. IT IS IMMANENT IN THE WORLD AND DIFFUSED IN AN INNUMERABLE MULTITUDE
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