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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion » User review

A classic in the field

  • Jun 17, 2011
  • by
  First, I should stress that I do not entirely agree with all of Eliade's ideas. His ideas about the nature of religion strike me as interesting and probably correct in some of their outlines but also a bit dated and ethnocentric as well in some areas (a trap perhaps nobody can completely escape from). 

The book overall is an attempt to contrast traditional religious experience and cosmology with that of the modernist mentality.The book is generally successful in many respects though later works by other authors (works such as Deeply into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of PassageRitual in the hospital: giving birth the American way.: An article from: Special Delivery, and others) have shown that the same isomorphisms are found in modernist thought that Eliade points out in traditionalist thought.If the modernist sees the house as a machine we live in, perhaps this is because that is how the modernist sees the universe as a whole. The body-as-machine is a well understood concept as well. 

But although this is not a single book which will reveal to the reader the differences between religious thinkers and secular ones, the overall thrust of the book is deeply interesting. The book covers a lot of Eliade's thoughts expressed in other works from the perspective of trying to find patterns of religious experience. If you have also read Myth and Reality (Religious Traditions of the World)The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (Bollingen), and Rites and Symbols of Initiation: The Mysteries of Birth and Rebirth, you won't find a lot fo new material. The same material is presented here and discussed from a slightly different perspective. 

On the whole the book is thought-provoking and informative. I didn't find it to be as groundbreaking as Myth and Reality, but it is interesting nonetheless. The focus is far more on the subjective world than these other books.... On the whole it is probably one of the best introductions to Eliade's thought that is out there.

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review by . April 22, 2008
Years ago, I was assigned this book in one of my university classes. I number it in my most memorable and personally influential works that I have ever read. At the time, I had just begun to study archaeology and had very little understanding of the concept of ethnocentricism. My personal way of thinking was very black and white. The only real experience that I had with the dichotomies of the sacred versus the profane at that point was my own experiences.     The Sacred and the …
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Chris Travers ()
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   I live in a haunted house Beneath a tall and mighty tree   With my wife Mia and my sons Wilhelm and Conrad   Where I write software and carve runes   It is a … more
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A noted historian of religion traces manifestations of the sacred from primitive to modern times, in terms of space, time, nature and the cosmos, and life itself. Index. Translated by Willard Trask.
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ISBN-10: 015679201X
ISBN-13: 978-0156792011
Author: Mircea Eliade
Genre: Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
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