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Specialness and the sacred: Ann Taves, Religious Experience Reconsidered

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2010
Number of pages3
Original languageEnglish


Ann Taves proposes an encompassing framework of ‘specialness’ in which both simple and complex ascriptions of things deemed significant – whether religious, spiritual, magical or ideological – may be contained. Her preference for ‘specialness’ over other terms is clearly argued, but does not adequately take into consideration recent, comparable research on the ‘sacred’, in particular the work of Anttonen. Whilst acknowledging the flawed nature of ‘sacred’ as a scholarly resource, I note that it may not be easily set aside. Unlike ‘special’, ‘sacred’ has deep and wide-ranging cultural resonances that not only attract and repel scholars in equal measure, but remain at the heart of popular and theological usage for signalling those things, places, values and issues that are non-negotiable, forbidden, or of deep and abiding significance.