THE SACRED IN LIFE AND ART
We are becoming increasingly aware that the forms of our life and art — of our modern civilization generally — have over the last few centuries been characterized by the progressive loss of precisely that sense which gives virtually all other civilizations and cultures of the world their underlying lustre and significance: the sense of the sacred. In fact, the concept of a completely profane world — of a cosmos wholly desacralized — is a fairly recent invention of the western mind, and only now are we beginning to realize the appalling consequences of trying to order and mould our social, personal and creative life in obedience to its dictates. It is not even too much to say that we are also beginning to realize that unless we can be no hope of avoiding the cosmic catastrophe for which we are heading.
This book is an attempt to clarify what is demanded if we are to have any chance of achieving this. It examines the nature and significance of the sacred itself, why the sense of its presence has been so disastrously eroded from our consciousness over recent centuries, how we can re-awaken this sense, and what such a re-awakening must mean in terms of our personal and creative life. In this respect it complements the author's previous work, The Rape of Man and Nature, in that it focuses not so much on tracing the emergence in time of the thought-forms whose ascendancy in our minds has produced our contemporary state of dereliction and chaos, as on affirming the ever-present, timeless qualities of beauty, love and miracle through which we can be renewed and transformed whatever the conditions of the world in which we live.
Through his sense of the sacred, through his emphasis upon the visionary intellect, and through his acute perception of the ecological crisis, Philip Sherrard is truly a prophet for our present age, a messenger whose winged words are addressed not so much to the twentieth century in which he lived as to the twenty-first century that is now unfolding. As a defender of sacred tradition, his face was turned not primarily to the past but to the future. . . . Although he was a master-craftsman in his use of language, with a vivid appreciation of the beauty of words, yet he remains a difficult writer, who demands from his readers a serious commitment. Yet, although difficult, he has also the ability to alter the basic outlook and the priorities of those who are prepared to listen to him with an open heart. His are among the few books that I choose to read not once but many times. And if I do so — if his works have changed my life as they have changed the lives of others — that is above all because he himself lived what he taught.”
— Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
About the Author
Philip Sherrard was an English author and scholar educated at Cambridge. Among the works for which he is best known is his collaboration in the complete translation of the Philokalia. The combination of his interests in metaphysics, theology, art and aesthetics led to his participation in the review Temenos, of which he was one of the founders in 1980. He was also recognized as a leading voice in situating modern attitudes and behaviors regarding the environment within a Christian framework.
In all his works, Dr. Sherrard sought to express an all-embracing vision, in which the natural and the supernatural come together in a wholeness that bears witness to the numinous wonder of life. This vision is the leit-motif of his last three books: The Eclipse of Man and Nature: An Enquiry into the Origins and Consequences of Modern Science (1987), The Sacred in Life and Art (1990), and Human Image, World Image (1992). He reposed in 1995.