Academic journal article et Cetera

Sacred Origins of Profound Things: The Stories Behind the Rites and Rituals of the World's Religions

Academic journal article et Cetera

Sacred Origins of Profound Things: The Stories Behind the Rites and Rituals of the World's Religions

Article excerpt

Charles Panati. Sacred Origins of Profound Things: The Stories Behind the Rites and Rituals of the World's Religions. New York: Penguin, 1996.

Charles Panati, a former physicist and a science editor at Newsweek, is the author of thirteen books including Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things and The Browser's Book of Beginnings. He claims to have an obsession with getting to the root of things - and has made a career of it. In this fascinating and well-organized book, his obsession focuses on religion as he attempts to clarify the origins of hundreds of religious customs and practices existing in many faiths.

Religion seems as old as our species and no doubt has its origins in human reflection - Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where will I end up? The word "religion" comes from the Latin "religio" which means "respect for what is sacred, awe" and has a root in the verb "religare" which means "to bind." In medieval Europe, the word evolved to mean "a system of sacred beliefs and practices that binds a people together." Thus its common association with organized religion.

The author states, and I would agree, that even the most religious often lack familiarity with the origins of sacred practices and customs, the reasons for religious holidays, rituals and symbols, and the meanings of vestments, sacraments, devotions, and prayers. …

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