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Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 04 Oct 2014, 22:12
by Daeruin
I have been thinking about the temple ceremony recently, and the other rituals we have in the LDS church. I have heard a number of people talk about how much they love these rituals, and love the idea of ritual in general. I'm afraid that I'm absolutely not one of those people. Ritual has always made me uncomfortable, resentful, even. I have a hard time articulating exactly why. I suppose part of it is the expectation that bothers me—the fact that I'm being pressured into an external show. I resent the idea that I even need to prove to others that I'm thinking or feeling anything in particular. It seems so pointless. If I already feel, believe, or think something, why should I have to take some specific action to prove it? And if I don't think, believe, or feel it, taking some specific action won't change that. This extends to all kinds of things—pep rallies, scouts, etc. Is my resentment silly? Is there another view of ritual that I'm not considering? Does anyone feel the same way as me? Advice for making the temple rituals more palatable?

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 05 Oct 2014, 04:53
by Gerald
No advice but some sympathy. I don't care much for rituals either. I appreciate that the only ritual we have in our Sunday worship is the Sacrament and that's pretty casual. In fact, in most ways the LDS Church is pretty ritual free except for in the temple. I don't mind the temple but the ritual isn't what really draws me there. For some people, these rites and ceremonies they go through provide a constancy and structure that gives comfort and uplifts. That's probably why such things are universal. But they don't work for everyone.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 05 Oct 2014, 04:54
by Cadence
I am with you. I find ritual tedious and manipulative. If I believe in something then I do not need some external action to validate that belief. To me the ritual is to reinforce a belief that may be sketchy to start with. From what I have read Joseph started the endowment as a means to initiate you into the polygamy club. If that is true, then we have a bogus ritual set up to reinforce a suspect practice.

As far as pep rallies and such I think that is harmless. They are just meant to generate excitement. Not like you are promising to slit your throat or something.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 05 Oct 2014, 05:16
by nibbler
Gerald wrote:I appreciate that the only ritual we have in our Sunday worship is the Sacrament and that's pretty casual.
This is certainly the exception but I know someone that stopped attending church because they were confronted about why they had not participated in the sacrament. The sacrament still has elements that show externally despite the spirit of the sacrament having nothing to do with an external show. A person that doesn't take the sacrament might have anxiety about what the person sitting next to them will think of them, enough anxiety to stop attending. The person next to them may wonder "what did they do?," even though they know it's none of their business. Apparently some may even make it their business. :wtf:

Some people need rituals though. Baptism might be the only way some people can gain the confidence they need that they are following Christ and that their decision has been duly authorized by god.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 05 Oct 2014, 05:26
by DarkJedi
I am also in the "don't like rituals" club. Can it be like the Little Rascals He Man Woman Haters? That might be fun. Except they apparently had rituals. :D

Anyway, I also like that we only do the sacrament as a ritual on Sundays, which is a very tame ritual compared to what happens in some other churches. I don't find value in the rituals themselves, but I do sometimes find value in the symbolism associated with the rituals - baptism, for instance. I have not been to the temple in a very long time, but what makes it palatable for me is trying to find symbolism in what's happening. I have not been since I started to believe Adam and Eve may not have been actual people but are more symbolic of all of us (in the temple at least). In one way I am looking forward to going to the temple with that new perspective - but I'm not in anyway eager to schedule the trip.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 05 Oct 2014, 05:55
by MockingJay
I don't think much about the sacrament anymore. It's just something I have to do because I'm there. There was a time when I believed if I died w/o taking the sacrament for awhile, I wouldn't be worthy to go to the CK. Later, the sacrament made our family very uncomfortable because the bishop had told our son he couldn't take the sacrament because of a sin. It made him feel so bad that he stopped going to church and hasn't gone back since (not only because of that.)

That temple is a whole different can of worms, but I've been to a more traditional Catholic service a few times and I loved it. Even though I believe it's as made up as our rituals, it felt much more reverent and spiritual to me. I liked that I didn't have to do anything too. I wish our meeting were more like that sometimes.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 06 Oct 2014, 00:17
by West
The rituals in the church don't bother me too much, but I have a feeling it's because I'm like what DJ mentioned in that I like to look more at the symbolism of things. A lot of what I choose to participate in with the church (and a lot of things outside of the church, actually) I view as tradition based, which works fine for me, because my family's culture has a lot of influence from cultures with very strong tradition-based mindsets. The traditions we have represent something on a personal level to us, so it's something that, while other people share in the same tradition/ritual, it's different and special for us.

Hopefully that makes sense. I'm not 100% awake at the moment. :)

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 06 Oct 2014, 07:06
by Roy
I enjoy ritual that draws people together to create or strengthen bonds. I like to baptise my kids. I like priesthood blessings among family & close friends. I like father's blessings. I like funerals & weddings. I like when DW and I are asked to be the witness couple in the endowment. I like performing sealings with DW.

That is where I derive my meaning so that is where I find value.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 06 Oct 2014, 12:12
by Curt Sunshine
I love symbolism, so I like the concept of symbolic ritual.

I don't care very much about the exact nature of any symbolic ritual, which means I appreciate just about any ritual that has symbolic meaning for people. Any particular ritual might or might not resonate with me, but I have no problem whatsoever with most rituals that are meant to be symbolic in nature. On the other hand, I have little or no use for non-symbolic ritual - and that exists more than most people realize.

Also, just to say it clearly, nearly everyone practices rituals in one way or another. Ritual isn't really the question; it's symbolic ritual. Therefore, the central question really is about how one views symbolism - and, especially, symbolism in ritual form.

People who are more literally minded generally either love ritual (because they don't understand the symbolism) or hate it (because they see and reject symbolism). There rarely is much middle ground for those people. People who are more symbolically oriented have a much broader range of reaction, since they are interpreting and evaluating the symbolism of the ritual.

Re: Uncomfortable with ritual

Posted: 06 Oct 2014, 20:10
by Daeruin
It's more than just the sacrament. The sustaining vote is ritualistic. The way we end talks is ritualistic. Our prayers have ritualistic elements. Some of them aren't really bothersome to me—others are.
nibbler wrote:This is certainly the exception but I know someone that stopped attending church because they were confronted about why they had not participated in the sacrament. The sacrament still has elements that show externally despite the spirit of the sacrament having nothing to do with an external show. A person that doesn't take the sacrament might have anxiety about what the person sitting next to them will think of them, enough anxiety to stop attending. The person next to them may wonder "what did they do?," even though they know it's none of their business. Apparently some may even make it their business.
This has bothered me for a long time. After I had my crisis of faith, I stopped taking the sacrament. I didn't feel comfortable making promises about things I didn't believe in the name of a person I wasn't sure was real, knowing that people were watching me and assuming I believed those things when they saw me take the sacrament. Of course, now I have the opposite problem—people seeing me NOT take the sacrament and assuming things about me. I've never been confronted by anyone, but I am sure there are at least some people who are watching me and assuming that I am sinning.
Ray DeGraw wrote:I love symbolism, so I like the concept of symbolic ritual.

I don't care very much about the exact nature of any symbolic ritual, which means I appreciate just about any ritual that has symbolic meaning for people. Any particular ritual might or might not resonate with me, but I have no problem whatsoever with most rituals that are meant to be symbolic in nature. On the other hand, I have little or no use for non-symbolic ritual - and that exists more than most people realize.

Also, just to say it clearly, nearly everyone practices rituals in one way or another. Ritual isn't really the question; it's symbolic ritual. Therefore, the central question really is about how one views symbolism - and, especially, symbolism in ritual form.

People who are more literally minded generally either love ritual (because they don't understand the symbolism) or hate it (because they see and reject symbolism). There rarely is much middle ground for those people. People who are more symbolically oriented have a much broader range of reaction, since they are interpreting and evaluating the symbolism of the ritual.
It really isn't the symbolism that's bothersome to me. I've studied symbolism in both literature and philosophy. I like thinking about symbolism. I have been pretty excited by ways of looking at scripture symbolically that I've seen discussed here, including the temple ceremony. But it's really the ideas behind the symbolism that excite me. The physical requirements of the ritual I simply see as unnecessary. I think what really bothers me with certain rituals is when they are (1) public and (2) required. This sets up potentially unhealthy social expectations and enables manipulation by those who are in power and/or who view them as literal.