Sloppy Thinking?

I often use words not entirely correctly because I use them how they feel rather than paying strict attention to dictionary definitions. This is fine when I’m writing poetry or prose but if I slip off into slightly trancey Mish writing world whilst declaring my way of taking on the universe it does rather seem to get me into trouble.

I’ve loved watching the debate on my entry on casual sex and promiscuity… about the last couple of sentences rather than anything to do with my notions on sex etc. I love arguments like this one, about sacred and profane, spirituality and divinity.

So, is it simply sloppy thinking on my part to declare that everything is sacred? Is it a misunderstanding of the term ‘sacred’ or worse is it my devalueing that term by my declaration that it applies to everything.

It was suggested that perhaps I meant ‘sacred in potential’ since sacred should mean that people are acting upon the holiness of things and I do not act upon the holy in everything all the time. If I did I don’t think I’d get anything done but I dispute that I meant sacred in potential.

I am aware of things moment to moment, I can only be aware of the sacredness of a certain amount of things/ people/ events moment to moment, I am, only human. If I were to accept that everything existed solely in terms of my perception then I would be able to say, yes, everything is potentially sacred rather than everything is sacred. It is my belief that things exist separate from my perception of them. I admit here and now I have no absolute proof of this and would rather not get into a philosophical debate as to the nature of existence right now. In anycase, because of this belief of mine I necessarily have to accept other peoples perceptions as being at least as valid as my own (from this initial standpoint I can then decide that they are wrong of course) but this means that each moment and thing is sacred, I may not be focussed on it and observing its sacredness but nevertheless it is sacred, maybe it is not being observed and perceived as such by any concious thing but because sacred is a numinous quality as opposed to a mundane one I think that it does not matter about it’s being perceived.

Thus my statement yesterday.

This declaration of everything being sacred really is the basis of how my world works because honestly, if I start looking at shades of grey in terms of everything being special then I really do become quite miserable. If nothing has this numinous quality then ok we are all meaningless. If only some things do then whats the point? If everything does then I can revel in the wonder of it all. So to some extent this is a concious decision on my part, but more importantly this concept of the numinous qualities inherent in the world around me plays heavily into my notion of the interconectedness of everything (yeah I read Dirk Gently as a kid!) which some Heathens of my acquaintance have called ‘wyrd’.
In anycase, I am enjoying the debate about this, I am unlikely to completely change my model of thought but I am open to refinment!

9 thoughts on “Sloppy Thinking?

  1. Mish, what words do you use to differentiate between people, animals, plants, places, objects and deeds that you or your community are observing as sacred at the current moment, and those that are not currently being observed?

  2. You expressed above that things are sacred regardless of whether you are, "focused on it and observing its sacredness." I understand the basic idea, but it seems a clumsy term. Is it just a question of noticing, for instance, or do you mean something more involved, like worshipping? I am interested in what you do here, not your understanding of the universe, if you get me?

  3. It sounds – and correct me if I’m wrong – akin to the old treefall saying.

    If a place is resplendent and no one notices, is it still sacred? Mish here would say yes, and I’d have to agree. One of the best sensations in the world is rounding a corner or cresting a rise and being treated to a view of surpassing glory – and the greatest wonder of the universe is that these moments are constantly created and re-created.

    (The example I’d give at the moment has to be the gravesite of my grandfather – hidden from the church by a path through the trees, from which I emerged to see a valley flowing away, liquid yellow in the sunshine, green with life – and I stopped, and I said ‘what a perfect view for his resting place’.)

  4. I am concerned that both of you see my interest in the roots of a particular word and the way it informs our actions, and informed that of our ancestors, as somehow taking away from the beauty and wonder of the world. That’s not it at all, I’m happy to say!


  5. The two posts and the discussions got me thinking about sacredness, as you might expect. My first question, which is as much to myself as anyone else, is whether sacredness or holiness is temporary or permanent.

    For example, before a service in church I will happily carry equipment and furniture in and out of the sanctuary, but during the service I will make long detours to avoid crossing the same space. Is it that the celebration of communion has, as it were, increased the holiness in the vicinity, or is it that I have changed, and in the moment I treat that space more reverently while the space itself remains unchanged. Jewish and Christian tradition is that places or objects can be made holy. The command to Moses to take off his shoes, for he was standing on holy ground before the burning bush, and the existence of the holy of holies in the temple, suggests that it is the presence of God, that I believe is also present in holy communion, that makes things holy.

    In the Anglican tradition it is possible to both dedicate and consecrate a church or chapel, consecration being an older and more formal rite than dedication. It is also possible to deconsecrate a building when it is no longer used for worship. However, if my deduction is right and consecration, the act of making something holy, is an invitation to God to enter that object or place, is deconsecration and act of banishment, effectively telling God that he is not welcome here any more?

    I realise this is irrelevant for most of you but I had to play out a train of thought…

  6. Ah, your first paragraph reminds me of the words of your noted ancestor…

    Humpty Dumpty: When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.
    Alice: The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.
    Humpty Dumpty: The question is: which is to be master – that’s all.

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