Ritual as 'insult'

2

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  • mousethief wrote: »
    How does one approximately venerate an icon?

    You kiss the wall next to it?
  • Approximately?

    Ha ha ...

    No, you're right. I do venerate icons and pretty much do everything the Orthodox do except receive the Holy Gifts or go to the priest for confession. I did try that once ...

    I s'pose what I meant was I 'approximate' some of the moves. I don't know how to do all the manouevres they perform when venerating icons, for instance. I'm not very good at remembering sequences of physical actions such as barn dance steps and so on so I never know if I'm doing things properly.

    I was also laying out some wriggle room for any who might think that an outsider like me could only 'approximate' to what insiders do. Something like that.

    I daresay most Orthodox wouldn't trouble themselves over what I did or didn't do as long as I didn't try to receive communion.

  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited July 2018
    I think a lot of what @Jengie Jon describes is habit rather than ritual. I rely very much on those kind of habits as my adhd brain needs them to function and make sure I don’t waste the day.

    But children’s bedtime rituals, our farewell rituals when leaving the house etc have more meaning and religious rituals even more (for some). At times of celebration or loss they take on even more meaning imo. On Christmas Day we had lots of early morning rituals (actually designed to keep the kids in bed for longer!) but, even at 18 years old, the boys insisted on carrying them out! :)
  • I am afraid as an ethnographer of religion one of the things I had to learn is ritual does not have to have a meaning. There exist rites where the same symbols are used but appear to outsiders to be used in random order. There exist rites that undercut the sacred. Every time someone tries to make assertions as to what sort of purpose or meaning must underlie ritual there is found something that is clearly ritual that counters that assumption. Yes, ritual can have purpose and meaning but it does not have to.

    The difference between ritual and habit is therefore subtle. It is often as simple as looking at different aspects of the same behaviour. When we talk of habit we are talking about repeated behaviour that we almost do subconsciously. Until it takes on that quality it is not really a habit. With ritual, we are talking of patterned behaviour that is used consciously or unconsciously. With your ADHD you develop the ritual in order to create the habit.
  • Interesting ...
  • I daresay most Orthodox wouldn't trouble themselves over what I did or didn't do as long as I didn't try to receive communion.
    Or scare the yia-yias.
  • I thought it was their job to scare everyone else ...
  • Exactly. And when they get spooked, all hell breaks loose.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    I remember reading of a young lady who was in Russia for an academic visit. She had bought and was wearing an Orthodox cross. She was visiting a beautiful church, when a yia-yia came up and started scolding her in Russian. Her Russian speaking companion had wandered off, but the young lady got the gist of it. The old lady was complaining about her cross. The visitor dredged up her scant Russian, pointed to the cross, and said in Russian, "Jesus lives". The yia-yia stopped scolding, smiled and walked away.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Wouldn't she have been a baboushka?

    Or is that word now the exclusive property of Kate Bush - though if you listen carefully, it may be that both terms are in the song?
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Wouldn't she have been a baboushka?
    Because words have meaning, and she was a young lady.
  • kmannkmann Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    Wouldn't she have been a baboushka?
    Because words have meaning, and she was a young lady.
    I assume he means the older woman who scolded the young woman. I find it odd to refer to an old Russian woman with the Greek word for grandmother.
  • kmann wrote: »
    I find it odd to refer to an old Russian woman with the Greek word for grandmother.
    Agree.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Because words have meaning, and she was a young lady.
    Isn't it the older woman who was doing the scolding?
  • Enoch wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Because words have meaning, and she was a young lady.
    Isn't it the older woman who was doing the scolding?

    x-post
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    kmann wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Enoch wrote: »
    Wouldn't she have been a baboushka?
    Because words have meaning, and she was a young lady.
    I assume he means the older woman who scolded the young woman. I find it odd to refer to an old Russian woman with the Greek word for grandmother.

    Sigh. I was trying to make a connection with the "yia-yia" reference and didn't remember the word baboushka.

    Sue me. :wink:
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    Ritual can be very helpful to those who understand its meaning. But it does need to be explained afresh to newcomers and to the next generation, or else it ceases to be a help and instead becomes meaningless.

    A good example was in a neighbouring parish where the vicar had printed his own service booklets. The first two pages were interpretations of common symbols and practises within the Eucharistic service. Those who already knew about them didn't need to read them, but those who didn't had a handy explanation before the service started.
  • @Chorister the teaching of ritual is often not to give it meaning but to stop clashes due to multiple meanings.

    I once sat through a Bible study where one member H gave a beautiful interpretation of the symbolism of removing the cloths at communion. All to do with how it symbolised the rolling away of the stone and how it represents the risen Christ being being present for the Church. She had obviously thought deeply and theologically about it.

    However, another member B informed us that the cloths were there for an entirely practicla reason; to keep plaster out of the elements and the ceremonial removal was for practical reasons.

    At the time favouring the single meaning approach I would have gone with B and it being practical ritual. An awful lot of ritual starts out that way; as a practical response to a situation. However, these days I would say both. H's creative theological reason had comunicated and fed her spiritually during the Eucharist and as an act it was clearly capable of communicating that even if its origins were more pedestrian.

    These "folk" interpretations need listening to by those involved in leading worship. Your congregation may be getting something entirely unexpected from a piece of liturgy you think is straightforward.
  • An awful lot of ritual starts out that way; as a practical response to a situation. However, these days I would say both.
    Such as Tying The Cat: https://www.friendsjournal.org/tying-up-the-cat/

  • Yes. I know the story but grew up with a dad who liked telling the origin of different vestements. A surprising number had their origin in practicalities according to him.
  • Not just according to him. I know Orthodox priests who say the same.
  • A lot of the origins of things in the Orthodox Church (and presumably many other churches as well) have been lost in the mists of time, and the explanations that we have at the present time are after-the-fact attempts to think up an etiology. I think most of them need to be taken with a shaker of salt.
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    Sometimes, though, the meaning is more in the value someone places on something, rather than the exact interpretation. I'm reminded of the bishop who said 'Look at this thing on my head!' to murmurs of sympathy from some of the congregation. But he then started to explain that his mitre was 5 sided to represent the 5 wounds of Christ and 11 inches tall to represent the 11 disciples. He then said 'I wear it to remind myself not to be a Judas'. 'So although some people think it looks silly, I am going to wear it', at which point he put it back firmly on his head. There was total silence.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    My apologies but reading of these attributions of complex symbolism to things that were originally just practical can't help reminding me of this.

    Are you all familiar with the original deck of cards that it is referencing?
  • AlbertusAlbertus Shipmate
    I did once try to start, on these boards, a completely made-up thing about the significance of the colours of Christmas tree baubles- I think gold for Christ's kingship, silver I can't remember, red for His blood, green for His resurrection, blue for Our Lady. But I don't think anyone picked it up.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Chorister: "Sometimes, though, the meaning is more in the value someone places on something, rather than the exact interpretation."

    I think this is a good way of looking at it. Take candles on an altar. First it was so the celebrant could read -anything- in a dark room. Then you could connect it up with light and Light and all the references to such in scripture and tradition. And candles are pretty. And they look like church to bunches of people.

    Or someone could look at them as superannuated fire hazards, and ask "What is wrong with electricity?"

    Personally, I do like symbolism, but I'm not going to get hung up on it.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Chorister wrote: »
    Sometimes, though, the meaning is more in the value someone places on something, rather than the exact interpretation. I'm reminded of the bishop who said 'Look at this thing on my head!' to murmurs of sympathy from some of the congregation. But he then started to explain that his mitre was 5 sided to represent the 5 wounds of Christ and 11 inches tall to represent the 11 disciples. He then said 'I wear it to remind myself not to be a Judas'. 'So although some people think it looks silly, I am going to wear it', at which point he put it back firmly on his head. There was total silence.

    I was told the mitre was the shape it was to represent the flame of fire over the apostles' heads. Which rather begs the question why women don't have them too, seeing that there were 109 other people at Pentecost who had flames in their heads, a lot of them women.

  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Women bishops in the American Episcopal church do wear them.
  • Orthodox bishops do not wear them, but crowns not too unlike the Imperial Margarine crown.
  • I might be wrong but I seem to remember Libby Lane wearing some kind of head gear. Perhaps it's a case of false memory syndrome ...

    I'm certainly seen photos of female US Episcopalian bishops wearing a form of mitre.

    As for Orthodox hats, they have some impressive 'titfors' (do Cockneys still say that? 'Tit for tat - hat'. Hence 'titfor' or 'titfer'.

    For my money, though, the Copts have the best hats in Christendom.
  • Well, at least one English Bishop who is female wears a mitre. Yes, I had to scan down Google images quite a bit to find a picture but they do exist.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Yes I know. I meant non Bishops because not all 120 were apostles
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    True that.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Lyda wrote: »
    Women bishops in the American Episcopal church do wear them.

    And here also.
  • So, on the basis of that, Mudfrog, we should all wear mitres?

    It seems a bit odd to me that a Salvation Army officer of all people should be implicitly pointing a finger at anyone else's 'uniform' or chosen garb on how biblical or otherwise it is when we'd be hard pressed to find scriptural justification of military style uniforms and titles for church leaders ...

    I suspect this may be another instance of straining gnats and swallowing camels when comparing other people's traditions to our own.

    Your symbolic garb is umbilical.

    My equally symbolic garb is no more biblical than anyone else's but I'm going to act as if it is and criticise other people's.

    Which just about seems to sum up your line of argument on this and other issues.
  • Ha ha ha predictive text ..

    Should be 'unbiblical' not 'umbilical' ....
  • I like "umbilical." It say something that other word doesn't.
  • MudfrogMudfrog Shipmate
    Gamaliel, as quite often, I find your response slightly hostile; it certainly doesn't match the somewhat light spirit in which I posted my comment.
    It was true that a man in a Cathedral told us bout the origin of the mitre and my comment about non-apostolic women (i.e. non-bishops) was not intended to be a serious point, not a criticism of the church from any point of sartorial superiority!

    Your comment about my uniform being unbiblical is pathetic because none of us have ever suggested it!
    And your parting shot about my other lines of argument is not worthy of me typing out the words that are running through my head.
  • Ok, I'll accept that this comment went a bit too far:

    'Which just about seems to sum up your line of argument on this and other issues.'

    However, I don't think the rest of the post was unduly 'hostile.'

    If anything, it simply ties in with other comments made elsewhere on this thread about the tendency - common to all Christian traditions - to regard everyone else's rituals and ceremonies as somehow bizarre yet one's own as somehow beyond reproach.

    I wasn't intending any serious criticism of either the Salvation Army or your good self although reading the post again, I can certainly see how you got that impression.

    But I'm with Mousethief on this one, 'umbilical' adds another dimension ... ;)

    (Note to self: Don't post so early in the morning and when you are in a hurry ...)
  • AmosAmos Shipmate
    Last week I ran a workshop teaching interested children to sew and knit. Bear with me. One of the things we wound up talking about was muscle memory, about how we learn things with our bodies, and, whether it's knitting or riding a bike or dancing, or going up and downstairs, we're able to do it because we've done it over and over again until our bodies know it. This took me back to a time when I was a university chaplain preparing students for confirmation. They came from a variety of Christian traditions, and, as we talked it became clear that those who held to a memorialist tradition were not a million miles from those who held to some version of real presence. Memory is real and it changes us. The rituals we observe ('Do this in remembrance of me') really change us. That, again, feeds into John Wesley's understanding of Holy Communion as a 'converting ordinance.'
  • Sure, I'll 'buy' that, Amos.

    At the risk of being misunderstood and in no way intending any offence to Mudfrog or the Salvation Army, I would make the same point about modes of dress.

    I know the Salvation Army doesn't claim that its uniforms are biblical.

    The Anglicans don't claim that mitres, stoles, copes and cassocks and whatever else are biblical either, but they do tie these things in with biblical symbolism.

    The point I was trying to make - badly - was that we all do similar things - the Salvation Army the same. It may not make a direct link between an SA Major's cap or brass buttons and the tassles on the Tabernacle or the 12 Tribes of Israel or whatever, but the SA certainly has - and perhaps still does - use miltary / warfare imagery drawn from the scriptures.

    I may have been wrong to read an implicit criticism of other people's rituals and regalia into Mudfrog's remarks but I'm not the first Shipmate on this thread to have done so.

    The Salvation Army uses loads of biblical imagery and symbolism - what's the Blood and Fire reference all about if it isn't a biblical one?

    I'm not saying whether they should or shouldn't wear uniforms, or polo shirts or hessian sacks or Winnie the Pooh outfits or whatever else, I'm simply suggesting that their regalia is just as much embued with symbolism as anyone else's. That's what 'branding' is all about.

    I know Mudfrog gets that but please correct me if I'm wrong, I still get the impression that he believes that the ritualistic aspects - in the more negative sense rather than a neutral one, if that's the right word - apply to other people and not to his own group.

    If I've misinterpreted what he's saying, then I apologise.

  • IMHO ritual is a pattern, and patterns are good or bad depending on what theyre used for. The rituals of the sacrament function like oven gloves -- they allow you to handle "hot" things with some degree of predictability and control (not that we control God, but rather I'm thinking of how you avoid burning yourself by inattention or ill thought out choices.) Or to vary the metaphor, think of it as the plastic covering around a live electrical wire, which is there to point in the direction of proper use and to prevent improper use. It is the ritual of the Lord's supper that prevents me from doing something daft and spiritually dangerous like turning the supper into a public protest against a personally disliked pastor (and yes, ive seen this done, and the man who did it had to first break through the ritual "safety cover" before he could complete blasphemy by weaponizing the supper).

    Reading through here - I know this is an old post, but it spoke to me.

    I think it's in this kind of vein that I can spend time with my RC friends at adoration. From my (Methodist) perspective I know Jesus is with me as soon as I turn to Him in prayer; indeed, the online Jesuit prayer resources I often use, remind me of this fact. Yet going somewhere where the view is 'He Really Is *Here*' is helpful, even to this prod. Don't chat, wander off to the caff, use the time to sort out the 'who's driving the old people to church' rota. He Really Is Here. I guess it's something to do with being embodied people, who find it easiest to deal with embodied, tangible things. Even (to my own surprise, but not of course to the surprise of my Catholic friends) a monstrance :smile:

  • I get that, Mark in Manchester. I'm higher up the candle than I used to be but still find monstrances and Benediction and Elevation and so on quite difficult - although I can certainly understand the theology and intention behind them.

    As with anything else it's what we become accustomed and acclimatised to.
  • CarysCarys Shipmate
    Jengie Jon wrote: »

    When we say ritual is empty what we normally mean is that as observers of the ritual we do not see what the meaning is behind this. It should now be clear that this is a false statement. Ritual does not convey meaning but is a process. You, therefore, can only really understand ritual as a participant. You have to participate in the enactment in order for it to act on you. I remember the kit not by having a list but by going through the ritual.

    An empty ritual would be packing the sports kit, but not going to gym afterwards

    Carys
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Carys wrote: »
    An empty ritual would be packing the sports kit, but not going to gym afterwards
    I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that there are people who carry round sports bags to give they impression they go to the gym, but don't actually go there, the equivalent of wearing a yachting cap but neither sailing not owning a boat.

  • Carys wrote: »
    Jengie Jon wrote: »

    When we say ritual is empty what we normally mean is that as observers of the ritual we do not see what the meaning is behind this. It should now be clear that this is a false statement. Ritual does not convey meaning but is a process. You, therefore, can only really understand ritual as a participant. You have to participate in the enactment in order for it to act on you. I remember the kit not by having a list but by going through the ritual.

    An empty ritual would be packing the sports kit, but not going to gym afterwards

    Carys

    Not really, done that often enough because my intention was to go to the gym but something came up e.g. Migraine, family emergency etc. The ritual still served its purpose i.e. it got the bag packed
  • Enoch wrote: »
    I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that there are people who carry round sports bags to give they impression they go to the gym, but don't actually go there, the equivalent of wearing a yachting cap but neither sailing not owning a boat.
    People wearing Oxford University sweatshirts who've never been to Britain ... Not a ritual though.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    People wearing Oxford University sweatshirts who've never been to Britain ... Not a ritual though.
    Somebody who's there now or who has been there recently could perhaps give us an authoritative verdict. I suspect, though, that wearing such a garment would be so uncool in the University that one could have confidence that anyone wearing such a thing never went there..

  • Enoch wrote: »
    Carys wrote: »
    An empty ritual would be packing the sports kit, but not going to gym afterwards
    I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that there are people who carry round sports bags to give they impression they go to the gym, but don't actually go there, the equivalent of wearing a yachting cap but neither sailing not owning a boat.

    I wonder whether anyone ever puts a little plastic bag in their back pocket to make people think they have a dog? :)
  • Enoch wrote: »
    People wearing Oxford University sweatshirts who've never been to Britain ... Not a ritual though.
    I suspect, though, that wearing such a garment would be so uncool in the University that one could have confidence that anyone wearing such a thing never went there..
    Absolute confidence, Enoch. If you'd been there, you might wear your college's sweatshirt/rugby jersey/whatever - but never an Oxford University one. Strictly for tourists.
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