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More muddle over the Axial Age

July 14th, 2010 · No Comments

Does the Sacred Need Saving?

At a conference devoted to this question, a scholar finds himself wondering if it’s the study of religion that needs help, not religion itself…

Contemporary culture is so confused on the subject of religion that it is almost a lost cause to enter discussions of any kind.
The question of the Axial Age is especially problematical. The Axial Age needs to be understood properly, as a general stage in human history, beyond even the questions of religion.
Secularism was also born in the Axial period. And Christianity was not a part of the phenomenon, but a later product in its wake.
The question of the Axial Age suggests that as we enter a new era of modernity, the religions of the past will go into decline as a new attempt is made to grapple with the issue of religion/secularism.
Meanwhile, the term ‘sacred’ has reached terminal uselessness.
Material on the Axial Age
People like Karen Armstrong et al. have spoiled the issue of the Axial Age. Starting over in light of the eonic model can help to restore some discipline to the study of the subject.

Taylor’s sacred is not that which appeared in the so-called Axial Age, that period in history when the so-called great “world religions” of Buddhism, Christianity, Prophetic Judaism, Upanishadic Hinduism, Daoism and such emerged? It is not the sacred known as Nirvana, Yahweh, Atman-Brahman, the Dao and such that Taylor seeks to “save” so much as another which he believes may be said to be a worthy successor to them in “our secular age.” It is not the sacred that Taylor himself, as a Roman Catholic, primarily holds dear, as he informed the assembled. For him, that remains the sacred of the Christian participation in the revolution of the Axial Age.

Tags: The Axial Age

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