The mask of ritual
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26-02-2017, 11:47 AM
The mask of ritual
I've been on a slow deconversion process for about 2 years that really escalated about 4 months ago post-election. In particular, the election showed me that I had been in a bubble where everyone thought the same way I did. On election night, I was certain Trump didn't have a chance at winning the presidency.

This isn't about politics, though. My question is about the liturgical Christian traditions: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and (sometimes) Anglican. My family did a strange thing and converted to a liturgical church when I was very young. I remember that growing up, my mom taught me to be skeptical about a lot of things that my Protestant Christian friends took for granted. Heck, I was even taught to question the messages in Disney stories. "Listen to your heart" wasn't the guiding line of truth, my mom said. Better to listen to the wisdom of the ages. People who said "God told me to do this or that" were supposed be be confusing their own thoughts with God's voice. Speaking in tongues and other charismatic experiences were suspicious because they were emotionally-driven, and we didn't need that kind of "proof" to boost our faith in God.

I've been wondering about my parents' conversion and the (degree of) skepticism I was raised with. Did they have serious doubts about Christianity that got masked in the ritual of a liturgical church when they converted?

One day, I may be brave enough to ask them.

Post here if you have thoughts or questions about the power of ritual to hide questions and rigorous thinking.
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26-02-2017, 12:20 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
What did they convert to "high church" from -- fundamentalism / evangelicalism? If so, yes, it might be a somewhat covert expression of doubt on their part, or it may simply have been a shift to a brand of Christianity that was more in keeping with their skeptical nature. Or they might have been "spooked" by some of the florid authoritarian excesses of fundamentalism that they encountered. They may have just decided "that way lies madness" and wanted something more balanced and nuanced for their family.

It seems that you shouldn't have to be "brave" to ask them; one would think they'd approve of your questioning / skeptical nature.
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26-02-2017, 12:58 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
(26-02-2017 12:20 PM)mordant Wrote:  one would think they'd approve of your questioning / skeptical nature.

Fact that they're still members of *a* church indicates some degree of woo acceptance.

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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26-02-2017, 03:13 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
It might simply be that the liturgy and ceremony are things they find comforting, a stable and unobtrusive base from which they can explore their personal spirituality. In contrast, the evangelical tradition seems to be more in-your-face, with hollering pastors and altar calls.

You don't necessarily have to ask them about the tie-in between skepticism and their change in churchgoing habits. How about "What was it that attracted you to the ______ church?"

I'm sorry, but your beliefs are much too silly to take seriously. Got anything else we can discuss?
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26-02-2017, 03:15 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
(26-02-2017 12:58 PM)morondog Wrote:  
(26-02-2017 12:20 PM)mordant Wrote:  one would think they'd approve of your questioning / skeptical nature.

Fact that they're still members of *a* church indicates some degree of woo acceptance.
Sure, but liberal Christians, especially the high church variety, are often quite sanguine about other ways of being, so long as you don't actually deny the existence of god ... and even then they don't usually overreact to the point of ostracizing someone.
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26-02-2017, 03:50 PM (This post was last modified: 26-02-2017 03:53 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: The mask of ritual
(26-02-2017 11:47 AM)port_of_call Wrote:  I've been wondering about my parents' conversion and the (degree of) skepticism I was raised with. Did they have serious doubts about Christianity that got masked in the ritual of a liturgical church when they converted?

One day, I may be brave enough to ask them.

Post here if you have thoughts or questions about the power of ritual to hide questions and rigorous thinking.

I was raised in a pentecostal/evangelical church, and as I've grown older I find myself connecting more with liturgical church traditions, theologians, etc.. And I would say this shift has been the result of asking questions, followings my particular doubts and skepticism.

I would want my children to do the same, I don't want them to believe that Christianity is true, because their father and mother believe it. When they have doubts, I want them to follow their doubts, when they have honest questions, to raise them, to pursue them in all sincerity. Not because I have doubts about my faith, but the exact opposite, call it a naive confidence in the unshakeable truth of it. And a desire that they find that as well. I don't want them to believe that Christianity is true because someone told them that it is, but because it is.

Perhaps your parents are like me in that regard, though I do hope my children, don't feel they need to work up the courage to ask me about it.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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26-02-2017, 03:56 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
So I grew up Catholic/Episcopal. We switched from time to time. And I was taught to be skeptical of a lot of the mainline protestant BS while I was in the church.

A lot of the churches like this, I found, is more about tradition. The catholic church is ancient, and has the power of centuries behind it. To many this has merit. Why would it last so long if not for some truth behind it?
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26-02-2017, 05:27 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
(26-02-2017 03:56 PM)natachan Wrote:  So I grew up Catholic/Episcopal. We switched from time to time. And I was taught to be skeptical of a lot of the mainline protestant BS while I was in the church.

A lot of the churches like this, I found, is more about tradition. The catholic church is ancient, and has the power of centuries behind it. To many this has merit. Why would it last so long if not for some truth behind it?
Beliefs are not correct because they are popular or longstanding or promoted by a large organization. Some longstanding beliefs, teachings and practices have been shown to be false (flat earth, bleeding with leeches as a medical treatment, geocentrism and other cosmologies, all sorts of things). Some large organizations have been shown to be wrong (the Catholic church finally admitted a few years back that they had been wrong about Galileo for instance).

However while claims of ancientness may not be valid, they feel "truthy" to many. Also, the notion of Catholicism's claimed continuity of authority from Christ through the apostles and popes to the present day, questionable as it may be, also is seen as comforting, along with the idea that the rituals and observances have been practiced by people in the same way for over 2,000 years gives you a sense of kinship with believers of the past.

But these claims can work against the high church denominations just as well as for them. Fundamentalists often decry mainline established denominations as "dry", "dead" and "lifeless", mere forms of observance unilluminated by the living spirit of god. And the Catholics and other high church types are the pinnacle of that folly to such folks. They promote a "living" "vital" faith that you can personally experience the presence of god through personal piety, prayer, study and meditation. One person's tradition and continuity and stability is another's boredom and dryness.
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26-02-2017, 05:55 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
Rituals - following rituals appears to be innate. Whether we go to church and undergo rituals, celebrate holidays with rituals, or ritualize our home life, we surround ourselves with them.

Most of us have a morning ritual - involving a sequence of cleansing, eating, getting dressed etc. - most of us do this in the same sequence, the same way, every morning.

We have family traditions and cultural traditions - these are rituals also.

It's not surprising people seek out churches for rituals, there is something soothing about them, they make us feel safe.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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26-02-2017, 10:10 PM
RE: The mask of ritual
(26-02-2017 12:20 PM)mordant Wrote:  What did they convert to "high church" from -- fundamentalism / evangelicalism? If so, yes, it might be a somewhat covert expression of doubt on their part, or it may simply have been a shift to a brand of Christianity that was more in keeping with their skeptical nature.

They converted from a Baptist/Lutheran background. I know they appreciated the more physical liturgical experience when they converted. A pastor at their previous church said that the resurrection of Jesus didn't matter to him because what mattered was the impact Christianity had on his life. This was a huge turn-off for my parents. They wanted to find a church that was less wishy-washy.

My hypothesis is that the liturgical church gave them a lot more to do than the Protestant sermons-and-Bible-study model offered. Liturgical churches keep you busy attending long services, singing complicated chants from Middle Eastern cultures, venerating relics of saints, fasting, and learning all the rules and traditions. You don't have to show up for Bible studies, offer your testimony, and ask questions to prove you have an active spiritual life to others. And you see so many other people going through the same rituals, so you think "hey, if they don't have a problem with it, why should I? baaa."

ps: Rules and traditions in the Eastern Orthodox church could fill several additional Bibles. Confusingly, many are not written down and vary depending on the priest.
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