SCHOLAR ISLAND

 

RITUALS

 

Ritual is older than thought--simpler and wilder than thought.

"Rituals disclose what man really wants. They are not rituals of linear progress, but of rebirth. They are attempts to undo . the effects of time as man knows them in practice, and make a fresh start. The perennial process of closing-in, cutting down , withering away-- this is what he needs to confront and master, whether individually or cosmically. This is the trap he needs to escape from, into some undefined fulfillment."

- "Ritual and Cult in themselves were of no value to God. Humanity, Justice, and Morality are superior to any cult. God did not want rituals, He wanted higher moral standards. The real sin was corruption and perversion of Justice.

Von Weizacker

 

 

"The significance of the Mass. As biological organisms, we must all, irrespective of sex, age, intelligence, character, creed, assimilate other lives in order to live. As conscious beings, the same holds true on the intellectual level: all learning is assimilation. As children of God, made in his" image, we are required in turn voluntarily to surrender ourselves to being assimilated by our neighbors according to their needs. The slogan of Hell: Eat or be eaten.

W. H . Auden

 

 

"Rituals contain the rules of right behavior towards those superhuman powers on which we depend all our life. These rules are generally incomprehensible to modern man. He is no longer able to produce within himself, even in a playful manner, the state of mind of a person who truly believes in the reality of those powers."

Amaury de Riencourt

 

 

"The beauty of the ritual action is one of its essential properties for man has not served God rightly unless he. has also served him in beauty. "

C. G. Jung

Transformation Symbolism in the Mass

 

".Even in a tawdry church today, cut off for a moment from a dusty street loud with the screech of brakes, the whine of motors, within an interior set with hideous sculptures and paintings turned out by the grow lot, even here the mass has a power of evocation that goes far beyond the beginnings of Christianity: it carries overtones of an unintelligible ritual magic that perhaps existed as early as the dawn of human speech. Long before the modern painters had explored the values of abstract art, the Church had created an abstract and depersonalized art which penetrated the recesses of human feelings far more powerfully than words and gestures better understood."

Lewis Mumford

The Condition of Man

 

   "Going to Mass did not make me "better": my first thought, still, was usually the fearful one, the cynical one, the critical one. But I went anyway. I went because in the dimmest reaches of my confused, angst-ridden mind there was still something in me that wanted to get down on my knees and, in spite of my own shortcomings and the shortcomings of everyone around me, give thanks. I went because I was beginning to understand the parable of the yeast-that the reign of God is like yeast which a woman kneaded into three measures of flour, and eventually the whole mass of dough began to rise (Matthew 13:33)

-Heather King

REDEEMED

 

"A living example of the mystery drama representing the permanence as well as the transformation of life is the Mass. If we observe the congregation during this sacred rite we note all degrees of participation, from mere indifferent attendance to the profoundest emotion. The groups of men standing about near the exit, who are obviously engaged in every sort of worldly conversation, crossing themselves and genuflecting in a purely mechanical way-even they, despite their inattention, participate in the sacral action by their mere presence in this place where grace abounds. The mass is an extramundane and extra temporal act in which Christ is sacrificed and then resurrected in the transformed substances; and this rite of his sacrificial death as not a repetition of the historical event that the original, unique, and eternal act. The experience of the Mass is therefore a participation in the transcendence of life, which overcomes all bounds of space and time. It is a moment of eternity in time."

. C, G. Jung

 

 

"Ritual is human act, springing from the instant of realized existence. We understand where we are, upon what occasion, and what we must do to put us in rapport with these facts. The moment of our life has shown us our nature, and the nature of the world we are in, Our being overflows with the knowledge, in the form of an action with which is seamless and original. Ritual is not to be confused with its paradise, behaviors that are neurotic or superstitious. Such actions do not rise from the immanence of reality in the moment, but rather obstruct it, rooted as they are in the moments that are extinct or obsolete. Neurosis and superstition are the degeneracy of ritual, its tomb and its ghost. Ritual is the flower of human freedom, our power to give ourselves, to endow a formal act with our whole imagination. We realize the fullness of our being where freedom overflows into form, which we give as a token of that abundance. We give to receive what we must always have, in Tribute to an endless generosity."

                    Michael Kincaid

                    "The Ritual of Being"

vol2 spring/summer82

 

"Neither personal nor mass psychology fully explains ritual impulses. Both sacrifice and the practice of offering children on altars=sometimes ritual altars, sometimes metaphorical altars of convenience or warfare-are powerful inheritances from at least as long ago as the Stone Age. But the two impulses are not one and the same. Sacrificing a butchered goat or a bushel of milled grain or a vat of wine is obviously not identical to offering a human being. The two acts are distinct and different, however related they may be, and ancient religious literatures as well as interpretations of those Scriptures from Antiquity until the present day reflect deep insights that have freed people from confusing sacrifice generally with homicide. Genesis 22 is the principal ancient text. Antiquity's gift to  modern consciousness bereft of means to understand its own behavior, which permits us to parse the difference between deeply ingrained impulses whose confusion has produced disaster and poses an acute danger today."

-Bruce Chilton

Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

 

"Words are inadequate to describe the emotion aroused by the prolonged movement in unison that drilling involved. A sense of pervasive well-being is what I recall; more specifically, a strange sense of personal enlargement; a sort of swelling out, becoming bigger than life, thanks to participation in collective ritual."

-William H. McNeill

Keeping Together in Time   ( a WWII soldiers description of the effects of military drill)

 

"Sometimes the symbols take effect by being disproportionately impressive, haunting and fascinating in their own right. Of this kind are the rites and pomp's of religion. These "beauties of holiness" strengthen faith where it already exists and, where there is no faith, contribute to conversion. Appealing, as they do, only to the aesthetic sense, they guarantee neither the truth nor the ethical value of the doctrines with which they have been, quite arbitrarily, associated. As a matter of plain historical fact, the beauties of holiness have often been matched and indeed surpassed by the beauties of un-holiness. Under Hitler, for example, the yearly Nuremberg rallies were masterpieces of ritual and theatrical art. 'I had spent six years in St. Petersburg before the war in the best days of the old Russian ballet," writes Sir Nevile Henderson, the British ambassador to Hitler's Germany, "but for grandiose beauty I have never seen any ballet to compare with the Nuremberg rally.' One thinks of Keats-"beauty is truth, truth beauty." Alas, the identity exists only on some ultimate, supramundane level. On the levels of politics and theology, beauty is perfectly compatible with nonsense and tyranny. Which is very fortunate; for if beauty were incompatible with nonsense and tyranny, there would be precious little art in the world. The masterpieces of painting, sculpture and architecture were produced as religious or political propaganda, for the greater glory of a god, a government or a priesthood. But most kings and priests have been despotic and all religions have been riddled with superstition. Genius has been the servant of tyranny and art has advertised the merits of the local cult. Time, as it passes, separates the good art from the bad metaphysics. can we learn to make this separation, not after the event, but while it is actually taking place? That is the question."

-Aldous Huxley

Brave New World Revisited

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Book: "The Politics of Ritual In An Aboriginal Settlement: Kinship, Gender, and the Currency of Knowledge" by Francoise Dusart

2010

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