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grimes_modes_of_ritual_1.pdf

grimes_mapping_ritual.pdf

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INSTRUCTIONS for FINAL PROJECT
“A Description, Analysis, and Critique of Religious Ritual”
Paper & Presentation
Purpose:
To observe, analyze, and critique a central ritual in a religious tradition (other than your own)
with a view toward understanding how the religion takes shape in the actual “performance” of
the rite. You will want to refer to Ronald Grimes “Mapping Ritual” and “Modes of Ritual”
PDF’s in the Canvas Module.
Requirements:
1. 12-15 page paper (3000-3500 words, APA format), see instructions below.
2. 8-10 minute speech (video tape yourself and upload to Canvas).
3. Formal outline, speaking outline and bibliography (make sure you include our
textbook, the readings on Ronald Grimes, Victor Turner, Arnold Van Gennep, and
others)
4. Power point slide show (12-15 slides), detailing a summary of your findings.
This 12-15 page essay, and 8-10 minute oral presentation, will describe, analyze, and
critique your visit to a religious institution in South Florida (including a thorough description,
detailed analysis, and critique). You must attend a religious ritual of a tradition to which you do
not belong and have no prior experience with. Be sure to contact the institution first (phone or
via the web) to verify its location and worship schedule. You should also inquire if special dress
is required. (A general rule of thumb for dress is to err on the conservative side, and be sure to
cover your shoulders, belly button and knees). IMPORTANT: Do not take any notes while
you attend; rather, wait until you leave and then find a quiet place to write down answers
to the questions below.
The ritual you choose to attend can be a daily, weekly, monthly or annual ceremony (but
it must be a “main” event, not an informal/occasional one). When you attend if anyone asks who
you are, you should introduce yourself as a student at Lynn University. Oftentimes someone will
come up to you, assuming that you are a potential convert; you may wish to gently inform them
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that you are simply a student of religion broadening your horizons in religious tolerance and
understanding.
On a separate title page be sure to list:
§
your name
§
name of the site visited
§
religion of the site (including branch, denomination or sect if applicable)
§
address and contact information (phone, email) for the site
§
date and time of your visit
§
names of any staff or officials at the site with whom you communicated
There are 3 parts to this project, each with its own set of questions to address as follows:
PART I: THE DESCRIPTIVE TASK
Key Question to ask: “What is going on here?”
[Note Well: This segment should be answered strictly on the basis of what you saw, not on the
basis of previous experience, theoretical knowledge or questioning of the participants]
The purpose of this section is to give a complete description of what you observe.
Give a narrative account from beginning to end of the sequence of events which you observe,
including a list of the various parts of the ritual (eg. Opening Prayer, Song, etc.). Be as thorough
as possible (without spending more than 1000-1500 words on this section).
Use Ronald Grimes’ article, “Mapping the Field of Ritual” (found in Canvas) to describe each of
the following. Pay special attention to the questions he asks surrounding each of the following:







Ritual Space
Ritual Objects
Ritual Time
Ritual Sound
Ritual Language
Ritual Identity
Ritual Action
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PART II: THE ANALYTICAL TASK
Key Question to ask: “What does it mean?”
[Note Well: These questions should only be reviewed and answered once the first part (writing
down your Observation) has been completed]
1.
Where, if anywhere, is the sense of the “sacred” manifested? How is it marked-off
and distinguished from the “profane”? How is it acknowledged? (Verbally?
Gesture? Ornamentation? Other ways?)
2.
Briefly, what images/concepts of God/Divine are fostered and conveyed by the rite?
How does this occur or get accomplished?
3.
What specific Beliefs and Values are reinforced by the rite? How does this process
occur? In other words, how is it accomplished? What beliefs and values are
censored-out or negated by the rite?
4.
Where and how, if at all, is the sense of “liminality” (time out of time) apparent?
How was it created? Make sure you use Tom Driver’s material to define/explain
liminality.
5.
Every religion/ritual has an “official” meaning (usually found in the textbooks on
religion dealing with dogma and theory). In contrast to this, there is also a
“pragmatic” meaning (which usually is the “actual preferred meaning” for the group
or individual as practiced). It is this latter one (the pragmatic meaning) that this final
project focuses on. In light of this, the final question in this section is: Is there any
“ritual dissonance” that you became aware of; where what you learned on a
theoretical level is different from the actual practice of the religion (as experienced in
the ritual). Ie., what you saw vs. what you read. For this question you should refer to
your textbook, as well as other bibliographic materials you have researched, in
contrast to the “participant observation” of the rite.
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PART III: THE CRITICAL TASK
Key Question to ask: “Does it work?” “How/how not?”
[NB: To be done only after part I and II are completed]
1. Does this rite, both in its form and content, express the essence of this religion? (a brief
explanation of what is the essence of the religion may be necessary)
2. Do any parts of this ritual “subvert” or “undermine” the sense of the divine/God or core
valued?
3. Does it produce “communitas” (a la Victor Turner)? Cf. Driver 152-165. How might it
be improved? This question will require you to clearly define what is meant by
“communitas” and then apply it to this project. Pay close attention to Tom Driver’s
material on Liberating Rites (in Canvas). Does this in fact occur in the ritual you
observed? How so? How not? How might it be improved so that it does in fact occur?
4. Finally, does this ritual produce/engender personal and social transformation? Is there an
efficacy to the ritual? How might this be improved?

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