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U73611 Issues in Contemporary Religion Week Nine: Conflict Over Sacred Sites.

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Presentation on theme: "U73611 Issues in Contemporary Religion Week Nine: Conflict Over Sacred Sites."— Presentation transcript:

1 U73611 Issues in Contemporary Religion Week Nine: Conflict Over Sacred Sites

2 Place is important to all religions Why are some places sacred? How did they become so? Why arent all places sacred? What happens when more than one religion regards a place as sacred? Why are some places sacred? How did they become so? Why arent all places sacred? What happens when more than one religion regards a place as sacred?

3 Pre-Christian religions Hard to generalise Springs, groves, ancient trees, rocks, hills regarded as special Hard to generalise Springs, groves, ancient trees, rocks, hills regarded as special

4 Windmill Hill, Avebury

5 Stonehenge Obviously a special place But why was monument constructed there and not somewhere else?

6 Romans in Britain The genius loci Or spirit of place The genius loci Or spirit of place

7 Bridewell Barrow, Wittenham Clumps

8 World Religions Jerusalem - Christianity, Islam and Judaism Bodh-Gaya - Buddhism (where Buddha received enlightenment) Mecca - Islam etc Jerusalem - Christianity, Islam and Judaism Bodh-Gaya - Buddhism (where Buddha received enlightenment) Mecca - Islam etc

9 Topophilia the belief that certain locations are inherently powerful and exude a heightened sense of place Marion Bowman What defines a place as sacred? Hard to define, but: They are not transferable (because of associated holiness) They do not need to be re-established with every generation the belief that certain locations are inherently powerful and exude a heightened sense of place Marion Bowman What defines a place as sacred? Hard to define, but: They are not transferable (because of associated holiness) They do not need to be re-established with every generation

10 Mircea Eliade Romanian Scholar of Comparative Religion Moved to Chicago in later life The world is always and everywhere divided between the sacred and the profane Romanian Scholar of Comparative Religion Moved to Chicago in later life The world is always and everywhere divided between the sacred and the profane

11 Hierophany An eruption or an intrusion of the sacred into the profane Literally: a manifestation of God Site becomes sacred centre Centre about which religious cosmology is orientated An eruption or an intrusion of the sacred into the profane Literally: a manifestation of God Site becomes sacred centre Centre about which religious cosmology is orientated

12 So, Mecca is sacred to Islam because that is where Allah spoke to the Prophet Mohammed Mount Sinai to Judaism etc But doesnt always apply - eg Glastonbury So, Mecca is sacred to Islam because that is where Allah spoke to the Prophet Mohammed Mount Sinai to Judaism etc But doesnt always apply - eg Glastonbury

13 Glastonbury

14 Small, rural Somerset town, population c.8000 (Festival is actually held at Pilton, five miles away) Has been a site religious significance since the Middle Ages Why? Presumably because the Tor is so aesthetically striking Small, rural Somerset town, population c.8000 (Festival is actually held at Pilton, five miles away) Has been a site religious significance since the Middle Ages Why? Presumably because the Tor is so aesthetically striking

15 Glastonbury as Christian site Myth 1) Joseph of Arimathea, provided tomb for Jesus after crucifixion, alleged to have come to Glastonbury Thrust his staff in ground at Wearyall Hill - from which Glastonbury Thorn sprouted Thought to have founded a Celtic Church Myth 1) Joseph of Arimathea, provided tomb for Jesus after crucifixion, alleged to have come to Glastonbury Thrust his staff in ground at Wearyall Hill - from which Glastonbury Thorn sprouted Thought to have founded a Celtic Church

16 Myth 2) King Arthur Arthur is supposed to be buried in the isle of Avalon Will appear again in our hour of need 1190 remains of Arthur and Guinevere found in Abbey - established Glastonbury as a pilgrimage site Arthur is supposed to be buried in the isle of Avalon Will appear again in our hour of need 1190 remains of Arthur and Guinevere found in Abbey - established Glastonbury as a pilgrimage site

17 Myth 3) Jesus What did Christ do between age 12-30? Joseph of Arimathea supposed to be a tin trader Brought Christ with him Christ hung out with the Druid College, again, supposed to have existed at Glastonbury William Blake - Jerusalem What did Christ do between age 12-30? Joseph of Arimathea supposed to be a tin trader Brought Christ with him Christ hung out with the Druid College, again, supposed to have existed at Glastonbury William Blake - Jerusalem

18 Today Every summer, Anglican pilgrimage to Glastonbury Abbey on Saturday Followed by a Catholic pilgrimage on the Sunday! Every December, Anglican parish Church, St John the Baptist, conducts a thorn-cutting ceremony Sprays of flowers sent to the Queen Every summer, Anglican pilgrimage to Glastonbury Abbey on Saturday Followed by a Catholic pilgrimage on the Sunday! Every December, Anglican parish Church, St John the Baptist, conducts a thorn-cutting ceremony Sprays of flowers sent to the Queen

19 The New Age - the Avalonians Dion Fortune and others established Glastonbury as a New Age Centre Now, centre for New Age spirituality, healing, neopaganism, earth mysteries etc etc Dion Fortune and others established Glastonbury as a New Age Centre Now, centre for New Age spirituality, healing, neopaganism, earth mysteries etc etc

20 Conflict at Sacred Sites Different readings of Glastonbury coexist, elsewhere not so peaceful Eg Jerusalem, Amritsar Different readings of Glastonbury coexist, elsewhere not so peaceful Eg Jerusalem, Amritsar

21 Amritsar massacre 1984 Sikh activists took over Golden Temple Accused of amassing weapons Indira Ghandi ordered in troops Approx 500 civilian casualties Ghandi assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards in revenge Led to pogrom vs Sikhs - maybe 5000 killed Sikh activists took over Golden Temple Accused of amassing weapons Indira Ghandi ordered in troops Approx 500 civilian casualties Ghandi assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards in revenge Led to pogrom vs Sikhs - maybe 5000 killed

22 Closer to home Stonehenge Free festival The vision of one Phil Russell, aka Wally Hope Forcibly closed down by Thatcher government at Battle of the Beanfield 1985 S/H eventually reopened to public for summer solstice in 1999 Free festival The vision of one Phil Russell, aka Wally Hope Forcibly closed down by Thatcher government at Battle of the Beanfield 1985 S/H eventually reopened to public for summer solstice in 1999

23 Place: Evokes powerful emotions Often the site of symbolic/political struggle Evokes powerful emotions Often the site of symbolic/political struggle


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