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Dr. Fairen - Religious Studies Theories and Methods 20

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University of Alberta
Religious Studies
Glen Fairen

RELIGIOUS STUDIES 200 MIRCEA ELIADE Sacred trees can be found in "the history of every religion, in popular tradition the world over, in primitive metaphysics and mysticism, to say nothing of iconography and art." eliade, patterns p.265 sacred trees are ubiquitous. the tree is an axis mundi. points to the tree of Yggdrasil. points to the cross, to the totem pole, etc. they symbolically configurate the same thing: an axis mundi that links the various worlds, realms, etc. the linking for eruptions of the sacred into the profane. The Logic of Symbols contagion of ideas and associations. FOR EXAMPLE: Akhenaton and the Sun in egypt: the hierophany of the sun.. the sun is painted everywhere to sacrilize spaces and items and people. anything to do with the sun becomes affiliated, symbolically linked to that first encounter ie eclipse. over time it is personified: sun defeats the night in battle. then the sun is a god of war. rising of sun is a renewal. stories start to grow up around it. ARCHAIC MAN reinterprets the original hierophany to mean more and more things. this is the logic of symbols at work. PERIODICITY vs HISTORICITY nostaligia for paradise against the terror of history he thinks history is important on some level, but not primary. FOR ARCHAIC MAN, HISTORY IS NO BIG DEAL: • part of the everyday grind... not sacred • nostlagia for paradise and the terror of history is samsara vs apocalyspe JUDAISM and later CHRISTIANITY break this chain sacred as eternal by sacrilizing God inside of history and historical moments. compare samsara with apocalypse. he uses history just to prove the transhistoricity of his model. very different from lincoln or marx. the historical record is not a way to contextualize the sacred but to show how the sacred has been recognized in various times and places. it all shows how the sacred can be found all over the place and all the time: it is a universal ubiquitous phenomenon. for archaic man, the historical moment does not matter, but rather THE SYMBOLIC MOMENT RE-ENACTED. archaic man thinks the sacred is transhistorical and behind and beyond all this human stuff and its accidents. ELIADE believes we all wish to escape the mundane and profane and live in the sacred. this is called the NOSTALGIA FOR PARADISE and the TERROR OF PARADISE. ARCHAIC MAN has a drive to ABOLISH HISTORY and return to that time when the WORLD BEGAN where the sacred is immediate. this wish is the deepest ache of all homo religiosus. A cycle of history was the model on which the world/cosmos operated. ie samsara - this means that humanity is hopelessly enslaved to the world, but through escape to the sacred the soul can be free and avoid the constant mundane re-enactment. though history repeats itself, it can be escaped from into the unchanging sacred. apocalypse can fit into this model in a certain way, but apocalypse plays a different role in judaism and the subsequent religions from it. JUDAISM CHANGES THE RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE BEFORE, the profane world was not significant, it was background, it had to be escaped WITH JUDAISM, sacred can also be found within the historic. now the sacred is not just outside of time and history, cropping up in occasional hierophanies. IN JUDAISM, sacred is outside, but also INSIDE THE PROFANE. (weird that he accounts here for judaism and christianity but not islam) "that historical events have a value in themselves, insofar as they are determined by the will of God. this GOd of the Jewish people is no longer an Oriental deity, creator of archetypal gestures, but a personality whole ceasesless intervenes in history, who reveals his will through events (invasions, sieges, battles and so on). Historical facts thus become 'sit
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