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Chapter 6

Chapter 6.docx

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Kenneth Derry

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Chapter 6 Ritual and Ritualizing: • Maurice Bloch: the study of religion would be better framed as the study of ritual • Ritual term is helpful, emphasis it puts on the practice of religion, the things that people do, which the more traditional focus in the study of religion has tended to obscure • Catherine Bell: term ritual is itself misleading • Our understanding of both religion and ritual is somewhat obscured when we try to view them as things – they are not things instead they are terms that refer to a diverse range of ways in which people behave and act • Rituals are not things nor do they so things: people do rituals • Alternative of ritualization or more specifically to talk of ritual behavior as a way to describe forms of activity that are done with a sense of ritualization What is ritual? • Ronald Grimes: ritualizing transpires as animated persons enact formative gestures in the face of receptivity during crucial times in founded places • Felicia Hughes-Freeland: ritual generally refers to human experience and perception in forms which are complicated by the imagination • Catherine Bell: argues that ritualization is a matter of various culturally specific strategies for setting some activities off from others, for creating and privileging a qualitative distinction between scared and the profane • Roy Rappaport: definitions of ritual as the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts • Victor Turner: ritual is formal behavior • Rituals are a matter of doing something, performing actions or particular behavior • Bell suggests that ritual cannot have an universal meaning since it depends to a large degree on the local context • Ritual behavior is a very important element of cultural life • Most ritual behavior is done unreflectively • The purpose of studying and analyzing rituals is to try to understand the many ways in which ritual activity is performed and experienced • 8 particular ways of looking at rituals: o Meaning o Symbolism o Communication o Performance o Society o Repetition o Transformation o Power • Ronald Grimes suggests that there are 16 categories of ritual action (rites of passage, marriage) • Bell breaks it down into four Ritual and Meaning: • Basic assumption about ritual action is that is has some sense of meaning and purpose • The latent meaningfulness of an action which leads us to describe it as ritualistic • Basic definition: rituals are actions carried out for more than their utilitarian purpose • Meaningful action • John Beattie: a distinction between instrumental and expressive actions o Instrumental acts are preformed primarily for their practical value: to achieve a some goal o Expressive actions: are performed for more than this obvious goal, they are done to express certain ideas or maybe to act out in symbolic forms o Many instrumental actions can have an expressive element o Many expressive actions can also be done instrumentally Rituals and Symbolism: • Beattie’s distinction between expressive and instrumental action is founded on a symbolist approach to religion and ritual • Importance and significance of rituals is that they work through symbols • Ritual may be seen as symbolic action • Victor Turner: symbols as the lowest unit of ritual • Symbols are things that represent more than their material properties – Christ cross • A special sound may also be symbolic • Symbols are thus items which have meanings and associations which are not intrinsic to their physical properties • The associations between the object and the ideas are arbitrary in the sense that they are culturally determined • Carl Jung: theory of archetype is based on the assumption that there are some fundamental symbols with meanings and associations shared by all humans • By products of the body such as faces, blood, saliva, semen o These natural symbols appear again and again in the rituals and symbolic ideas of many people • Thing which is a symbol does not have a single – each symbol will have many meanings • Some symbols are considered to be specifically religious • The multiplicity of meanings that symbols can have is a vital element in the importance of symbols • No symbol can mean purely one thing – many different meanings, all of which are culturally determined Rituals and Communication: • Rituals are often a means of communicating messages to participants • Though not all rituals are specifically religious, the study of religion and ritual highlights the viewpoint that religion is a matter of practice, and not just belief. • Rituals usually communicate in subtle ways, that they have hidden messages • Rituals may also communicate in very unsubtle ways • Maurice Bloch: relationship between rituals and communication – argues ritual is a type of language • Ritualsare harder to contradict – you cannot argue with s ong • Makes rituals quite distinct types of action • Actions are a form of non-verbal as well as verbal communication Rituals and Performance: • Rituals require action: they are form of b
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