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A Theological Study in the Role and Significance of Rituals in Society

This activity became the pathway to the human condition. Ritualization is a way, an experimental way, of going from the inchoate to the expressive, from the sheerly pragmatic to the communicative. . . . We had best think of it as their progenitor, and as the source also of speech, or religion, of culture, and of ethics. It is not as true to say that we . . . invented rituals as the rituals have invented us (31).

One important facet of Driver's argument in this book is that rituals are misperceived by our modern society, which sees them as meaningless pomp and circumstance, vestiges of an earlier era which was not as rational or enlightened as our own. Driver argues, conversely, that we have cheated ourselves out of much of crucial value by denigrating, neglecting and even eliminating ritual from our daily lives. He does not say that ritual is always a pleasure, always joyful. To the contrary, it is sometimes, even often, a matter of doing some act in the form of a ritual which feels far more like a difficult or undesirable duty than an act of joy or pleasure. Driver does not argue against the aspect of duty in ritual, but he does argue, and vehemently, against rituals which have had the vitality sucked out of them by institutional ignorance. For example, focusing on the failures of religion to inspire many people today, the author writes that part of this failure has to do with the aridity of ritual:

Since the playfulness and freedom of ritual have largely disappeared from churches, the soul of worship often disappears, leaving behind only skeletal bones in the form of an "order." The service is then envisaged not as something musical, danceable, and expressive but rather as the recitation of certain prescribed words (215).

In other words, rituals should be, according to Driver, not only interesting, entertaining, and emotionally and spiritually involving for the participants, they should also, whenever possible, be expressive of...

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A Theological Study in the Role and Significance of Rituals in Society. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 06:03, March 06, 2015, from https://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303778707.html
 
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