essay on ritual that employs methods

Write a five- to six-page (1,250- to 1,500-word) essay on ritual that employs methods from the academic, interdisciplinary study of religions in which you do the following.
1. Present a total of three rituals that come from religions of the East: one from India, one from China, and one from Japan. This means that each ritual will occupy around two pages—one of which is interpreted from the Religionist perspective, and one of which is interpreted from the Reductionist perspective, and one of which is interpreted from your own methodological perspective. The paper should begin with a short introductory paragraph, and end with a short conclusion. (See below for guidelines on the final paragraph.)

2. Use at least three written sources, and provide full and accurate bibliographical citations for all books, articles, and websites.

3. Describe the rituals, providing hard data on each. Include the religion to which the ritual belongs, the place where the ritual occurs, and other basic facts, such as the number of participants, the leader(s) of the ritual, and so forth.

For data on the rituals, you can rely on firsthand observations, videos from the Internet, and written discussions. If you are not writing about a ritual from firsthand observation, you can check YouTube or Google Images. Type in the word ritual, or the name of your ritual, along with the name of the religious tradition you want to explore. You can also add the word YouTube to your search terms to find some video accounts of rituals. Beyond that, you can check websites developed by various religious organizations and study sections of books and articles. Provide complete bibliographic citations.

4. Choose an approach to discuss each ritual of the three rituals and use one approach for each ritual: Religionist, Reductionist and your own approach.

Your analysis of each ritual from the Religionist perspective might include questions such as, (a) What religious symbols are used in this ritual, and what is their meaning to the participants?, (b) What ritual actions performed by the people (or religious specialist) are supposed to prolong a hierophany or kratophany?, and (c) What are some of the religious experiences had by participants in the ritual? How might these reflect the mysterium tremendum and the mysterium fascinans?

Your analysis from the Reductionist perspective might include questions such as, (a) Was the ritual performed by a certain social class, or for a particular political end? (b) What else was happening in the culture at the time the ritual was created or performed? and (c) Did this ritual serve to bolster the political interest of the status quo?

Your analysis from your own metholodology might include some of the questions from both Religionist and Reductionist perspectives, or you might adopt and adapt the approach of one of the theorists we looked at in the first weeks of the class.

5. At the end of your essay, reflect on your own method of looking at the ritual. Base your reflections on questions such as, (a) What biases do I bring to these rituals? (b) Have I viewed the rituals as an insider or as an outsider? and (c) How might someone viewing the rituals from the opposite perspective (e.g., inside instead of outside) react to them?

6. When possible, incorporate course vocabulary into your discussion, including words specific to the religious traditions discussed, and methodological terms from course. Use at least three terms specific to each tradition you discuss, and 10 terms from the chart below, using at least two from each category. (Paired terms separated by a “/” count as a single term, whether you use one or both.) Render all of these terms in boldface or all caps.

General Terms Religionist Terms Reductionist Terms
polytheist religious subject/religious object authority of religious specialists
family resemblances homo religiosus cultural construction of meaning
emic/etic mysterium tremendum/ mysterium fascinans cultural imperialism
atheist sacred time European colonialism
nontheist sacred space moral exhaustion
myth homo symbolicus naturalistic experience
monotheist power postcolonial discourse
ontology kratophany rationalization of symbols
religious discourse sacred/profane religion of resistance
theist religious impression/religious expression religion of revolution
culture zone sui generis religion of the status quo
insider/outsider hierophany subtle erasures

 

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