Uncommon Sense

November 29, 2022

Sacred Places

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:14 am

I ran casually across a reference to sacred places, you know temples, shrines, pyramids, monolithic circles. And I had an interesting emotional response. The comment was just that such “sacred” places, buildings, whatever are often built on top of previous temples, etc. This triggered a memory of something I read that when European conquerors took over yet another people, they tended to build Christian churches on the same sites that pagan temples used to be (often the pagan temples were razed to prepare the “building site” but not always).

So, those spaces were sacred to pagan deities and to Christian deities? Why would that be? It sounds more like dogs marking their territories. A dog comes along and pisses on a tree, leaving some of its scent as a marker, then another dog comes along and pisses on top of that saying “my place, no yours”).

So, I remember images of such sites with ceremonies being performed: censors of smoke, fans and feathers used to splash the smoke around, hands held up to the sky in supplication while chants were being performed, etc. The emotion I felt was, well, embarrassment. What would happen if aliens showed up?

I understand why these ineffective ceremonies and practices are performed year after year, decade after decade, and century after century. Priests told people that if they didn’t perform the ceremonies, their crops would fail, animals die, or children and elders die, so people performed those rituals, chanted those prayers and often enough the harvest was good and the animals and relatives were healthy. Years in which the harvest was spotty, or animals were born still, blame was laid on the people who did the rituals because they must have done something wrong. (I call this the ceremony trap or the ritual trap—damned if you do and damned if you don’t.)

People dressed up in funny capes/robes, wearing odd hats, speaking archaic languages and splashing wine, smoke, or even blood around. It is just embarrassing for the human race.

And if aliens do show up, these nut cases will be in line wanting to talk to the aliens, to explain how only they have the valid sacred knowledge and the rest of the people are heretical know nothings. How would the aliens be able to tell who the nut cases were?

Embarrassing, I say.

And what if the aliens come wearing funny outfits (their leaders anyway) and funny hats. Will they identify with those of us with equally odd garb as being more likely to understand them, rather than those who might represent all of humanity? Is great puzzlement.

Tradition is doing things the ways we always have, so that we don’t lose important knowledge. But, what if that knowledge was bogus in the first place? What good are the traditions supporting it then? Don’t we see most crafts and practices evolve away from the old ways to “new ways”? Sometimes the new ways are better and we stop doing things the old way. We save some of the old ways for historical interest as hobbies, so we still have blacksmiths, even though more modern methods of making metal objects have been proven to be far superior.

Unfortunately religions and other sacred practices have no way to find new ways to do things and are wedded to the past, often as not the very deep past and so we get embarrassing practices like heads bobbing at an ancient wall, prayers being muttered, and specific shawls and hats needed to be worn, because we all know how much a fashion nitpicker that god is.

Embarrassing. I hope the aliens don’t come . . . for a while.



  1. When it comes to religion … !!


    Comment by Nan — November 29, 2022 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  2. Great post, but paragraphs Steve. Paragraphs!

    When the aliens get here, I’m sure they will be pissing on whatever religion they find too. I’d find that funny except they’d probably want me to honor their crappy religion as well, even when I scoff at the religions already here.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by shelldigger — November 29, 2022 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

    • Paragraphs? I gave you 11 of those suckers! Oh . . . too many? :o(


      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 29, 2022 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

      • Hmmm, it looked like one HUGE paragraph when my page loaded it…


        Comment by shelldigger — November 29, 2022 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

        • Hmm, mine shows eleven nicely separated paras.


          Comment by Steve Ruis — November 30, 2022 @ 9:17 am | Reply

          • At your site it is paragraphed. It was in my reader where it was not.

            Chalk it up to WP silliness I guess…?

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by shelldigger — November 30, 2022 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

            • Whew I was starting to worry! (As I age I am making more, shall we say, interesting mistakes.)


              Comment by Steve Ruis — November 30, 2022 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

              • You are fortunate. I didn’t have to wait till I got older 😉

                The interesting mistakes refused to wait for me.

                Liked by 2 people

                Comment by shelldigger — November 30, 2022 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  3. Would you still be embarrassed if there weren’t any aliens? If humans were just acting silly for silly reasons & no one else in the universe saw this?

    Also ~ are aliens your concept of a deity? Some other kind of being who sees what’s going on here on Earth so we had better not be acting all stupid & silly? The surveillance camera in the sky?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by silverapplequeen — November 29, 2022 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

    • My experience of embarrassment came well before I thought of the aliens angle. It just seems so silly and the opportunity cost of all that effort is immense. Aliens? Deities? No. I don’t have any truck with deities, especially if they demand worship (Asshole Deities). No, aliens are my idea of an independent observer.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 30, 2022 @ 9:16 am | Reply

  4. First of all, I don’t care what other people do. I was raised Catholic & while I do miss the ritual & pageantry of the (old) mass, the new mass (especially this newest liturgy) leaves me totally cold. My entire family is still Catholic & I still have that cultural Catholic thing but I just can’t say the creed … “I believe in one God” … cuz I don’t. I was passionately into the Goddess religions in my late 20s-early 30s, had a love affair with Buddhism, which really changed my life, but at this point I would have to say I’m an atheist … but honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever there “is”, it resides within me, it resides within you, it’s within all of us … it’s in my purring cats & the ground when I plant bulbs in the falls & seeds in the spring. I don’t know beyond that & I don’t care to know.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by silverapplequeen — November 30, 2022 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

    • I wonder what would happen if we were to infuse our schools and other secular structures with the love and sense of community we do for our churches. When people leave their faith, the things they miss are mostly social and not “spiritual.” It is indeed within us.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 1, 2022 @ 9:53 am | Reply

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