Sacred Time as One Eternal Round: Understanding the Chiastic Pattern of Temple, Cosmos, History

What does temple architecture, the revolutions of the cosmos, and the narrative of sacred history have in common? It is the cyclical nature of sacred time which is embodied in the phrase “God’s course is one eternal round.”

I was privileged to present the following blind peer-reviewed paper titled “Sacred Time as One Eternal Round: Understanding the Chiastic Pattern of Temple, Cosmos, History” at the Seventh ACS Symposium in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico on June 20, 2015. The theme of the symposium was “Nature and the Ordinary: Sacred Foundations of Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality.”  Below is a video of the presentation, a short abstract, and a link to view the full paper.

Circumpolar_Temple-BRO copyABSTRACT: Space, time, cosmos, and architecture are interconnected with the realm of the sacred. At present the modern world and its architecture of newness, speed, information, and consumerism appears to be losing its sense of sacredness or the experience of sacred time. While this may be the case, I would argue that the experiential space of time – its depth and plasticity – can be regained through design principles such as the proper orientation, alignment, and replication of the cosmic order in architectural form, space, and details. The objective of this study aims to help the discipline address the ‘terror of time’ by (re)gaining an existential understanding of key architectural design principles that restore sacred, cyclical time to human experience. Based on the comparative framework and methods of an earlier study published in Harvard’s Journal of Comparative Theology, the scope of this paper continues its focus on architectural works found within Mormonism, Judaism, and Christianity by asking the following questions: 1) How is the cyclical pattern of sacred time experienced mythically through the narrative of sacred history? 2) How is sacred time conveyed astronomically through the revolutions of the cosmos? 3) How is cyclical time encountered spatially in the architecture of the temple? and 4) What parallels exist in the mapping of cosmos and sacred history onto the spatial frame of temple architecture throughout the religious traditions? The paper concludes by demonstrating the relationships that exist between religions on architectural, spatial, ritual, astronomical, and mythicohistorical levels. Since the cyclical and chiastic pattern of sacred time is present in temple, cosmos, and history, our understanding is improved of how the plan of salvation may be read as ‘one eternal round’.

CITATION: Brandon Ro. “Sacred Time as One Eternal Round: Understanding the Chiastic Pattern of Temple, Cosmos, History.” In Collected Abstracts of the Seventh Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality Symposium, edited by Julio Bermudez, Norman Crowe and Paul Tesar, pp.1-9. (Ghost Ranch, NM: ACS Forum, 2015). Available online:


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