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The Sacred and the Profane

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Preach to the choir
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Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith

The Sacred and the Profane (ISBN 9780156792011) is a 1987 book by Mircea Eliade exploring the dualistic notions of religion following Emile Durkheim's theories. In general, it describes the philosophical concept of dualism, conceived originally by Émile Durkheim. Durkheim described the world in terms of individual "things" and their relative sacredness (holiness) in relation to religion. While Durkheim requires that "Sacred" be transcendent, powerful, and awe-inspiring, Eliade focusing largely on world religions and world myths, expands the notion to include a variety of "types" of sacred — while always maintaining the sharp distinction between that which is religious (sacred) in nature, and that which is mundane (profane). Both authors assert that all human cultures break their world into these two groups.


Critics have argued that while the terms are useful in understanding human classification of worldly things and ideas, as well as understanding human religion, not every culture draws such clear distinctions.[1] Christianity is a strongly dualistic religion, largely a legacy of its Greek philosophical heritage, so the distinction is more prevalent and obvious.

Neopagan and New Age religions frequently describe the entire universe as sacred, and make a concerted effort to bring the sacred into the mundane.

Pantheism also assumes that the divine is in all things and Buddhism teaches that all beings have Buddha nature at some level.[2]

The Navajo believe their homeland is sacred and thus every action taken while living in their homeland is sacred.[3]

See also[edit]

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