Segments in this Video

What is Sacred? (02:26)


Individuals share what they believe is sacred. Theologian Guy Ménard defines the word sacred; anthropologist Kristin Norget explains its meaning.

Personification of Divine Forces (02:20)

Humans need to believe in a value system that gives life meaning. The sacred combines fear, awe, and respect. Experts discuss coping with the dark side of sacred and communing with the supernatural.

Finding Irrefutable Meaning (01:28)

The sacred consists of places, rituals, and individuals that allow people to commune with forces beyond comprehension. Sacred has a religious and secular form.

Fire from Heaven (02:27)

Fear of nature instills the sacred in primitive man. Animism allows our ancestors explain what they see. Experts discuss the purpose of myths.

Fire from Heaven: the Divine (02:02)

The mother goddess is one of the most ancient myths. Fertility is vitally important for the first pastoral and agricultural societies. The veneration of gods encourages rituals and symbols.

Fire from Heaven: Stages (02:40)

Humans imbue fire and water with symbolic meaning and use them in rituals. Jean Delumeau discusses the conception of religion and the sacred, and the first funeral rite.

Fire from Heaven: the Great Apprehension (01:56)

The shared experience of death gives rise to the belief in an afterlife. All cultures try to provide a framework for dealing with death.

Universal Fire (03:15)

A search for the meaning of life leads to timeless and immutable references. Humans organize the sacred and make it tangible by defining sacred space.

Universal Fire: Coming to Terms (02:13)

The sacred is a temporal and spatial concept. Times of great emotion fan the sacred flame within all of us. Sacred time that prevails in a ritual situation is "timeless time."

Universal Fire: Recreating the Divine (03:07)

Artists are instrumental in expressing the sacred and transmitting it through generations. Experts discuss the importance of spiritual ancestors, hierarchy, and sacred custodians.

Universal Fire: Established Order (01:44)

The laws and rights of sacred religion become those of societies. Religious or secular sacred transgressions result in penalties. Experts discuss morality.

Backdraft (01:36)

Traditional societies organize the sacred around religious institutions, providing reference points and models for behavior. These models influence the sacred in secular form.

Backdraft: Sacred Order (02:18)

The sacred allows societies to establish common goals, oftentimes limiting individual freedoms. Sometimes, institutions encourage transgressions to discourage serious challenge to sacred order.

Backdraft: Shaking the Foundation (01:55)

Buddha provides a new sacred system of references. Martin Luther challenges church practices. Belief challenges are traumatic for societies and can disrupt sacred institutions.

Backdraft: Doubting Sacred Values (02:31)

Science challenges religious beliefs. In 1859, Charles Darwin champions a new creed that affronts Christian doctrine. Humans need explanatory narratives.

Stoking the Fire of Progress (02:46)

In the 19th century, rationalism becomes a dominant value. The institution of progress provides new sacred reference points, interpreted by science experts.

Stoking the Fire of Progress: Dark Side (02:11)

The institution of progress carries the power of enormous destruction. Examples include atomic bombs, nuclear accidents and pollution. Progress does not answer philosophical questions.

Fireworks (03:28)

The great religions claim about half of the world's population. The sacred remains an important force and the need to believe manifests itself in many forms.

Fireworks: Animism (02:38)

Ecologists believe that the Earth tangibly reacts to the punishment we inflict and our efforts to correct it. Experts reflect on the human search for spirituality.

Credits: The Sacred (01:22)

Credits: The Sacred

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All communities hold something sacred, whether it is a supreme being, nature, or life itself. This program explores the role of the sacred in societies, from the most primitive forms of animism to the contemporary secular institutions that have sacred attributes. The importance of ritual, signs, and specific individuals in disparate cultures is discussed by noted anthropologists. The program also addresses the role of myth, stressing the universal presence of the mother goddess in all early religions. (48 minutes)

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL10213

ISBN: 978-1-4213-0617-9

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.