Saturday, October 15, 2016

realm of the "sacred"

In today's hard-copy lead story about a $100 million reboot of the Smith College campus, the local paper offered the drop-head(line), "Celebrated architect blends natural world with 'sacred' books."

I haven't yet read the story and probably won't. Vast visions simply don't bang my chimes, though the word 'sacred' caught my eye. Naturally, someone promoting a vision -- and a lot of spaghetti on his or her table -- would be likely to turn up the linguistic volume. It's good for biz.

But it crossed my mind idly: I wonder if the use of the word "sacred" is a pretty good indicator that someone is desperate to promote whatever the latest "sacred" focal point might be. Where something is weak, there is sometimes the tendency to talk it up and depict it as strong and worthwhile.

But is it true?

Life is sacred, for example? Really? Why? Isn't it as much as anything because death -- whatever that is -- is confounding and a bit scary? If you don't know what it is and yet name it, are you therefore more in control and less confounded?

I'm not trying to make a federal case out of it. But books as "sacred" struck me strangely. Are books on such fragile turf these days -- and they are on fragile turf -- that hyperbole is required? Without books, people tend to be dumber than need be; there are fewer possibilities; and there is less potential kindness. But with books, there is considerable stupidity, the possibilities are frequently ignored and cruelty still has a field day.

Sacred ... a strange and perhaps desperate word.

If all the things dubbed "sacred" were denuded of that adjective, how would that affect the thing to which the word was lustily attached. Sacred text. Sacred (wo0man. Sacred realm.

Please tell me what is not sacred and whose fault that is.


  1. I'm inclined to think that nothing's sacred. The question is always "sacred to who?" And if it's not sacred to everybody, how sacred can it really be? As you point out, we say life is sacred, but plenty of us are pretty willing to kill, so it's not sacred to everybody. So if the best we've got fails the test, nothing can rise to the definition.

  2. Nothing is really quite sacred in zazen, agree with Charlie.