Thursday, August 21, 2008

Readiness for Ritual (II): on Symbols

This chapter has much to say about symbols within liturgy. And about the need for imagination in keeping it alive. Some examples:

"We meet God through symbols"

"Symbols have the power to transport us out of the here and now into an originating past as well as into a fulfilling future."

"Ritual symbols characteristically respond to deep imaginative needs and intentions which are not easily transformed directly into common language."

"The word symbol seems to have been used in ancient times for an object much like today's passport. When a messenger bearing important information was sent to an authority or official, he was given a piece of a broken tablet which would identify himself as authorized when that piece was placed together with another matching piece in the possession of the official. Originally a Greek word, symbol (sum-ballein) meant to pull together aspects which have either been broken apart, sundered, or which have yet to find a synthetic fullness in being united."

"Another obstacle is the adults failure to utilize the full scope of memory and imaging in theological thinking and ritual expression."

"For the fully alive adult is someone who, thought a lesser degree than children, scans the environment, taking in more stimulation than can be dealt with immediately. Even adults seek fuller meanings. As we will argue later, adults who do not know the playful nature of ritual and ritualization--the exploratory range of deep, questing interactions within the formal structure of repeated rites--will become dead to the enlivening potential of their cosmic surroundings as well as thoroughly bored with the ritual dynamics of their community. For these reasons it will be important to keep in mind how fluid a notion play is for Erikson and how integrally it functions in the elaboration of his theory of the "ontogeny of ritualization."

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