Tag: Ritual


Making the Familiar a Little Stranger

Have you seen the reactions online to the release of a video of kids performing a warm-up number at a Trump rally held at Pensacola, FL, a couple days ago? If not, then I’ve seen a lot of social media jabs that insinuate that this bizarre routine is more akin to what we’d expect from modern-day North Korea or Nazi Germany in the late 1930s — after all, using kids in that way… Sheesh. And the lyrics…?! Freedom’s on our […]

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Excuse Me, You Have Something on Your Forehead

Sarah Griswold is a junior double majoring in Mathematics and Religious Studies. She spends her “free time” analyzing her favorite shows on Netflix, which of course winds up ruining them. To get you started for some Ash Wednesday talk, enjoy some GloZell: Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Season – the days leading up to Easter, meant to symbolize Jesus’s 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. By now, you probably have seen people with ashes on their […]

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“It Doesn’t Matter What I Say”

On p. 3, near the opening of the late Frits Staal’s classic essay, “The Meaningless of Ritual” (Numen [1979] 26: 2-22), he wrote: Contrary to how most of us see it, for Staal, ritual was not referential, i.e., it’s not that one does this because it means this or represents that. While the meaning surely comes later, in hindsight, often taught to us by others, when one is doing ritual one is instead obsessed with sheer form, not content; one […]

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Extra, Exatra: Idol Worshipers Make the News

THIMPHU, Bhutan (RNS) For centuries, Buddhists in this tiny landlocked Himalayan kingdom have had a special devotion to the most unusual of objects: the phallus. Painted on the walls of their homes, hanging from the eaves of their houses and seen in vehicles and on rooftops, images of the phallus are an essential part of Bhutan’s traditional ceremonies…. So opens a recent Huffington Post article, ripped straight from the 19th century’s headlines. For if you want to see how very […]

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