Session Chair & Moderator: Hyejung Chang (University of New Mexico)
The human desire to create sacred places is likely what makes us uniquely human. Yet it also shows us to be a humble and primitive creature, seeking a habitat for the soul. "The Sacred" manifests itself differently in varying cultural expressions, such as art, religion, myths, rituals, and customs, as well as set within the designed and natural environment. It is expressed differently in times as well. It becomes intelligible especially when it resides in our experience of place—the experience of the living body that recognizes the soul; the feeling of the sky that echoes a sense of mortality in the sound of the wind that in turn provokes the deep power of the earth's spirit—the memory of a secular place that resonates with the intensity and joy of life.
What is the essence of place that expresses the power of the Human Spirit? What are the experiential qualities we regard as sacred which we find embedded in all cultures throughout time? How are they defined or perhaps even re-defined in our own time? What are the philosophical propositions, concepts and theories that explain the spiritual ideal in the reality of informing the process of place making?
The focus of this paper session is "The Nature of the Sacred". Under this heading we would like to explore theoretical perspectives that have evolved from related areas of thought, including philosophy, theology, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and cognitive science. We welcome papers that attempt to define, conceptualize, interpret, and explain the mysterious, powerful, and harmonious quality of The Sacred—as it has evolved in art, ritual or religious acts and practices, spiritual architecture, sublime landscapes, intentional communities like Serenbe, and ordinary historical environments.