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Title: Ritual and Religious Belief: A Reader
Author: Harvey, Graham
Additional Authors or Contributors: (ed)
Publisher: Routledge/Taylor & Francis; Publication Date: 2005
Paperback; ISBN: 9780415974486
Volumes: 1; Pages: 320
List Price in Paper: $29.95 Our price: $29.95
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Rituals are among the most obvious and common religious activities, but their relationship with other aspects of religion, especially 'belief', has been a problem both for religious people and for scholars. In many religions leaders have worried that people are 'just going through the motions', doing without understanding. People are often accused of 'vain repetition' as if it were possible to perform significant religious acts without repeating oneself. Even the word 'performance' is difficult, because it might imply pretence rather than sincerity. Yet it is not at all clear that religious actions, rituals, are meant to be understood. They may even appear contrary to rational and thoughtful statements of what a religion teaches.
This Reader brings together material that illustrates the problem of ritual as a type of religious behaviour, in relation to belief and thought, and as 'vain repetition.' The material presented here seeks an understanding of ritual as performances that may have a logic different to 'belief' or as actions that are not meant to be understood. The contributors discuss recent questions about the fluid performance of all identities and the inherent permeability of critical categories such as ritual. An introduction to the various debates is also provided.
Part 1: Exemplifying the Problem
Martin Luther: The Sacraments of Holy Baptism and of the Altar
Reform Rabbis in the USA: The Pittsburgh Conference 'Declaration of Principles'
Part 2: Surveying the discussion
Jonathan Z. Smith: To Take Place
Part 3: Relating Ritual to Actions and Ideas
Maurice Bloch: Myth
Stanley J. Tambiah: Malinowski's Demarcations and his Exposition of the Magical Art
Kieran Flanagan: Holy and Unholy Rites: Lies and Mistakes in Liturgy
Ian Reader: Cleaning Floors and Sweeping the Mind
Margaret J. King: Instruction and Delight: Theme Parks and Education
Edward L. Schieffelin: Problematizing Performance
Peter Stallybrass and Allon White: Introduction
Gerrie ter Haar: Ritual as Communication: A Study of African Christian Communities in the Bijlmer District of Amsterdam
David I. Kertzer: The Rites of Power
Susan S. Sered: Ritual Expertise in the Modern World
Carlo Severi: Memory, Reflexivity and Belief: Reflections on the Ritual Use of Language
Part 4: Conclusion: Reflecting our Categories
Malcolm Ruel: Christians as Believers
Catherine Bell: Ritual Reification