Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Consecrating Jesus' Message

Currently on the reading list: Prof. Mirecea Eliade's influential book The Sacred and the Profane: the Nature of Religion.

I'm only one chapter in, but I was struck one passage in particular. Consider it in regards to the modern nature of Christianity being bible-based, and not Jesus-based (italics in original):
Every world is the work of the gods, for it was either created directly by the gods or was consevrated, hence cosmicized, by men ritually reactualizing the paradigmatic act of Creation. This is as much to say that religious man can live only in a sacred world, because it is only in such a world that he participates in being, that he has real existence. This religious need expresses an unquenchable ontological thirst. Religious man thirts for being. His terror of the chaos that surrounds his inhabited world corresponds to his terror of nothingness. The unknown space that extends beyond his world - an uncosmicized because unconsecrated space, a mere amorphous extent into which no orientation has yet been projected, and hence in which no structure has yet arisen - for religious man, this profane space represents absolute nonbeing. If, by some evil chance, he strays into it, he feels emptied of his ontic substance, as if he were dissolving in Chaos, and he finally dies.

Reading this, I feel like I have a better understanding of why "book" religions are so powerful (and prevalent). They give a concrete answer - a consecration of the Divine out of the Chaos of life by which we can commune with the gods. To me, that is what Jesus was clearly about. Due to historical inertia, however, Jesus' message has taken a backseat to the message of the bible in Christian worship. In order to reverse this, perhaps Eliade's wisdom can help: we must aim to give Jesus' message the sacredness and structure that the bible currently occupies in Christian circles. Only then will more and more Christians be willing to "jump ship" from the bible and truly realize Jesus' call to pick up your cloak and follow me.


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