“Sacred and profane. What a gulf, what antipathy there is between those words! Yet all that ‘profane’ originally meant in its Latin root was ‘outside the temple,’ and later, still neutrally, in medieval Latin and French, ‘not pertaining to what is sacred or biblical…civil as distinguished from ecclesiastical.’ At what point did ‘profanity’ come into use as a synonym for bad language, cursing, with its implications at first of hostility to the sacred order and after that, in our own spiritually diluted age, of a defiance of propriety? My life after I went ‘outside the temple’ hasn’t been profane in either of those senses. It’s been what it has been, set against nothing and taking its course on such grounds without structures to house the sacred as I’ve been able, or been compelled, to rest upon.”

–From Richard Gilman’s 1986 book “Faith, Sex, Mystery: A Memoir,” a journey from Gilman’s Jewish origins through a Catholic conversion to a gradual loss of faith.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad