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Ritual 1

Introduction to Ritual

Alex Finlayson

on 22 July 2015

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Transcript of Ritual 1

What is ritual?
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature… the opium of the masses” – Karl Marx
“Religion is the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity…”- Sigmund Freud
“Men create gods in their own image” - Xenophanes
“Society is the soul of religion”- Emile Durkheim
“You have created us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You”- St Augustine
What is religion?
Dimensions Recap
All religions involve a combination of certain dimensions.
Professor Ninian Smart proposes seven common dimensions.
Ninian Smart
There are two main types of ritual-
Rites of Passage
Rites of Devotion
Van Gennep showed a similar basic pattern in all rituals that celebrate life course transition.
Rites of Passage
Rites of Devotion include rituals that demonstrate adoration or worship. Eg prayer/meditation, yoga etc
Rites of Devotion
Rituals can be found
in all areas of life
Brainstorm egs of ritual on board
personal / family / social / cultural / religious
daily / weekly / monthly / yearly / once in a lifetime
secular / sacred / private / corporate
Examples of ritual
a recap
further classify according to what you think are personal, family, social (eg town/region live in), cultural, religious rituals
Then list whether these rituals are performed on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, once in a lifetime basis
Discuss the difference/significance of secular and religious rituals
Introduce/ re-introduce terms – secular, sacred, private, corporate
Imagine the perfect BBQ...

Write a report on the
of this event.
Think about things that
Consider aspects of the BBQ that if changed, would make it
'less so'
detailed descriptions
of how certain things are done (e.g. how often do you flip the steak?)
write them into book (eg mind map/table)
Humans communicate through words, body gestures, facial expressions and action. Religion uses various aspects of gesture, symbol and space to create rituals that enable participants to move beyond ordinary life, or the mundane, into another realm, often referred to as the sacred.
Rituals may include song, speech, dance, use of sacred objects and processions. The purpose of ritual is to express a fundamental truth and evoke spiritual and emotional responses from participants, as well as engage the participants in unified action to strengthen the shared connection. In Christianity, the action of the "Sign of the Cross' reminds believers of the Trinity and the death of Jesus. It also quietens the body for prayer as the hand gesture draws a line between the head and the heart.
Each ritual develops its own form of language and the meaning of the ritual is learned through participation in the ritual, and often by others teaching the participant the meaning behind the ritual action. The 'language' of the ritual may not be self-evident to an outsider.
1. Define ritual in your own words.
2. List five rituals you have witnessed or participated in.
3. What is the difference between a routine and a ritual?
4. Name an occasion or life-phase that you think could be ritualised more effectively in our society.
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