tatman - thoughts

tatman - thoughts - [T&S 11.1 (2004) 64-71] ISSN 1355-8358...

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11.1 (2004) 64-71] ISSN 1355-8358 Blasphemous Thoughts Lucy Tatman [email protected] Abstract The sacred, from the Latin sacer, originally meant both blessed and accursed. This article begins by remembering the intolerable qualities of the sacred as it is imagined, figured and my thed in Western culture. It is then argued that within Western culture there is a significant difference and unresolv- able tension between 'the sacred' and 'religion'—a tension/difference strangely akin to that between the semiotic and the symbolic as theorized by Julia Kristeva. It seems that one of the functions of reHgions-as-institufions is precisely to control, tame, and make more manageable the sacred. In practice this means controlling sexual, sensual bodies — especially those bodies most closely associated with messy physicality and bloody corporeality. Sadly, there are those who consider sexy theology to be quite sacri- legious, to have nothing to do with 'Real Religion', to be in fact quite blasphemous. I have been thinking about this relationship between the sexual, sensual sacrilegious and Religion lately. Thinking this relation- ship, curiously enough, through the lens of the sacred. What if the sacred is always already sacrilegious? What if the sacred is always already blasphemous, always already on the verge of unbear- able? And what if this blasphemous, intolerable sacred is imagined to be the very foundation of Religion (with a capital R)? What if, that is, the sacred is simultaneously both the fundamental subject matter of Religion and the bane of Religion's existence? I want to sketch one way that 'we' (and by 'we' I mean specifically, narrowly, those of us who are relatively privileged inhabitants of the Western, still primarily Christian, symbolic universe) might begin to think about this question: What if, in the West, the sacred is hegemonic- ally imagined and enacted as both the fundamental subject matter of Religion and the bane of Religion's existence? Why might it matter, and © The Continuum Publishing Group Ltd 2004, The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SEI 7NX and 15 East 26th Street, Suite 1703, New York, NY 10010, USA.
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Tatman Blasphemous Thoughts 65 to whom? Before we can think further these questions there are two tiny theoretical issues to be dealt with: what do I mean by 'the sacred' and what do I mean by 'Religion'? The sacred. The brief conception of the sacred that I am about to offer could be read (in sober, measured tones) as a list of key terms. Or it could be read as a whirling mass of metaphors, each one gliding and spinning among all the others, each one immeasurably enriched by the presence of all the rest. .. As I am writing from an epistemic location within the area of gender, sexuality and culture you might be anticipa- ting that I am about to present an amalgamation of feminist and queer theories of the sacred. Because it is not a minor point, let me say immediately, no. The conception of the sacred that I am about to offer I
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This note was uploaded on 12/20/2010 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Sullivan during the Spring '08 term at ASU.

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tatman - thoughts - [T&S 11.1 (2004) 64-71] ISSN 1355-8358...

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