Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ritual

Anthropologist Mary Douglas:

The long history of protestantism witnesses to the need for continual watch on the tendency of ritual form to harden and replace religious feeling. In wave upon wave the Reformation has continued to thunder against the empty encrustation of ritual. So long as Christianity has any life, it will never be time to stop echoing the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, to stop saying that external forms can become empty and mock the truths they stand for. With every new century we become heirs to a longer and more vigorous anti-ritualist tradition.

However, she also recognizes that this anti-ritualistic mindset is problematic.

The Evangelical movement has left us with a tendency to suppose that any ritual is empty form, that any codifying of conduct is alien to natural movements of sympathy, and that any external religion betrays true interior religion.

Purity and Danger, Routledge Classics ed. (New York: Routledge, 2002), 76

Anti-ritualism can be every bit as damaging as ritualism. It has the potential to deeply distort our perception of reality. It can drive a hard wedge between "external" and "internal," and ultimately destroy the very possibility of human communication and society.

1 comment:

Todd Mitchell said...

Amen. Keep up the good work, Brother.