Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions--Revised Edition

Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions--Revised Edition

Catherine Bell

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0199735107

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From handshakes and toasts to chant and genuflection, ritual pervades our social interactions and religious practices. Still, few of us could identify all of our daily and festal ritual behaviors, much less explain them to an outsider. Similarly, because of the variety of activities that qualify as ritual and their many contradictory yet, in many ways, equally legitimate interpretations, ritual seems to elude any systematic historical and comparative scrutiny. In this book, Catherine Bell offers a practical introduction to ritual practice and its study; she surveys the most influential theories of religion and ritual, the major categories of ritual activity, and the key debates that have shaped our understanding of ritualism. Bell refuses to nail down ritual with any one definition or understanding. Instead, her purpose is to reveal how definitions emerge and evolve and to help us become more familiar with the interplay of tradition, exigency, and self- expression that goes into constructing this complex social medium.

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of Wellington, that “the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” is echoed in the less elegant remarks of the Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy, who said, “Ask yourself where our young men developed the qualities that go to make a good fighting man…. It is on the athletic fields.”58 While some people have always argued that greater emphasis on sports would channel aggression and eliminate war, others have countered that competitive sports reinforces the mind-set conducive to

Christ.” And so each one drying himself with a towel they shall now put on their clothes, and after this let them be together in the assembly.16 The many successive phases of the catechumen’s initiation into the Christian community described in this account emphasize the closed and sectarian nature of the organization. By the 3d century, the orthopraxy of the early phase of Jewish Christianity, already somewhat relativized by the importance of belief in Jesus Christ, began to give way to an

Max Gluckman, “On Drama, and Games and Athletic Contexts,” in Sally F. Moore and Barbara G. Myerhoff, eds., Secular Ritual (Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, 1977), pp. 227–43, esp. pp. 239–40. 58. W. Arens, “Professional Football,” p. 7. 59. Richard G. Sipes, “War, Sports, and Aggression: An Empirical Test of Two Rival Theories,” American Anthropologist 75 (January 1973): 64–86. 60. See Allen Guttman, From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978); Scott

annual university lecture in religion (Tempe: Arizona State University, 1991), p. 4. 132. Jean Cazeneuve, “Television as a Functional Alternative to Traditional Sources of Need Satisfaction,” in Jay G. Blumer and Elihu Katz, eds., The Uses of Mass Communications: Current Perspectives on Gratification Research (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1974), pp. 216–17. Compare the different relationship between media and message analyzed by Umberto Eco in “The Myth of Superman,” Diacritics 2

are involved in the way a society or subculture defines its men and women.26 In a study of cultural constructions of masculinity, David Gilmore finds “a constantly recurring notion that real manhood is different from simple anatomical maleness.” He compares a number of cultural models of manhood and asks “why people in so many places regard the state of being a ‘real man’ or ‘true man’ as uncertain or precarious, a prize to be won or wrested through struggle, and why so many societies build up an

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