The Human Need for Sacred Community

By David Carlin, July 15, 2016

David Carlin

In addition to our many physical needs, we humans have psychological needs (or perhaps better put, spiritual needs). Among the most important of these are:

One: The need to feel that our lives are important and meaningful; that as individuals we are much more than brief blooms of insignificant life on a small planet orbiting a minor star in an unimportant galaxy.

Two: The need for moral guidance, that is, to know what’s right and wrong, what’s good and bad.

For most human beings throughout history these two great needs have been taken care of by membership in what may be called a sacred community: a clan, a tribe, an ancient Greek city-state, a nation, a church, a totalitarian political party.

From the point of view of the individual, his sacred community is self-evidently important and significant. If my tribe is important and significant, then I, part of that tribe, share in its importance and significance. As a mere individual I may be of little or no significance; but as a member of the tribe, I am very significant. My tribe is important in the eyes of God (or History), and so I too am important to God.



David Carlin is professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America.


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