By some accounts ritual behavior is utterly natural, “hard-wired” into the structure of the brain and nervous system, a function of our biological or animal “hardware” rather than our cultural “software.” Even if we try to escape explicit rites, tacit ritualization nevertheless emerges unbidden. If we do not initiate youth into adulthood, they will, perversely…
The Gospel according to C. J. Jung I’ve written a series of articles that transform scholarly articles into the stories they imply. This is an example. No person owns a sacred story, because a story is sacred only if it is the story of Everyperson. Though the story of Lord Yahweh, the Holy Antinomy, sounds…
Nation’s first human-composting funeral home is now open in the state of Washington
When I was turning 50, I signed up for an African dance course in Boulder, Colorado. Some of the dances, the teacher said, were “social,” some “sacred” or “ritualistic.” One afternoon during class I shorted out. The feet and hips couldn’t remember their assigned movements. The ass wouldn’t shake, and the drummer’s fine rhythms refused…
How does creativity help us cope? What role does the imagination play in allaying our age-old fears of loss and separation? Filmmaker Cailleah Scott-Grimes leans into these questions in the short doc she’s made in collaboration with her father. Rockin’ the Coffin, a contrarian’s guide to the good death, was made possible by the CBC’s Creative Relief…
When I retired in 2008, I began giving away stuff. It’s 2020 and I’m still giving things away. What seemed like treasure back then is crap now. At first I resented giving things away, because I enjoyed collecting. Hang around me now, and I’ll be loading you with stuff. Check my front yard, more stuff…
I’m always scouting. I have a propensity to watch the horizon. What is it you do when you “scout?” It’s hard to shake grade-B cowboy movies out of my imagination. Scouts rode ahead, over horizons, then back to the wagon train—usually with bad news unless San Francisco was just over the mountain. White Cavalry Scout…
Friendship in the Covid Era Amigos por siempre The year is 1970. I’ve just finished a PhD. This is my first academic position. Hugo and I are teaching at the same university. He is teaching Spanish. I am teaching religious studies. One morning I hear an articulate stream of Spanish swearing echoing down the hall….
A Japanese Shinto-based ritual. An allegorical healing performance about defeating the plague, reframed as coronavirus. Links to articles about ritual and coronavirus rituals The last anointing [RG: This is a brilliant instance of journalism and photo-journalism]: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/06/us/coronavirus-priests-last-rites.html How to get through the loss of rituals: https://www.everydayhealth.com/coronavirus/how-to-get-through-the-loss-of-rituals-during-the-pandemic/ Coronavirus is changing the rituals of death for many…
Click here to order from Amazon Endings in Ritual Studies was published in January of 2020, just in time to hit the Covid wall. I couldn’t get an author’s copy of my own book across the Canadian-US border. Endings is a bookend to Beginnings in Ritual Studies. Now in its 3rd edition, Beginnings wears a…
by Sarah Pike author of For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism Originally published by The Immanent Frame, SSRC On Friday, December 6, 2019, a day of national climate strikes, I heard drums outside my monthly morning meeting at California State University, Chico. Climate strikers from our university and local high schools were…
by Barry Stephenson Dating from the 4th century, Rome’s San Marcello al Corso houses a crucifix that began its famed career by surviving a devastating fire in May of 1519. Three years later, during the height of a plague, friars of the Servant of Mary, disregarding the prohibitions imposed by the civil authorities, carried the…
The first epicenter of Covid-19 was Wuhan Province, China; then northern Italy, then Spain. The US is likely to become the next epicenter. And the epicenter of the epicenter will likely be New York City or New Orleans. New York City has a population of 8.6 million people crowded into in 302 square miles. New…
A Dialogue with Damiaan Messing and Ron Grimes
Ron: Damiaan, the story you tell in a previous post is hopeful, but usually there is a backstory, sometimes, not so hopeful. Is there a backstory?
Damiaan: Although we have a working pilgrimage around Nijmegen, it has not matched my expectations: to inspire to sustainability. My sense is that most people in pilgrimages such as the Walk of Wisdom or the Santiago pilgrimage are preoccupied with their own stories, for which the foundational story is just a foil….
Maybe you know about Playing for Change. “PFC is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music. The idea for this project came from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. Creating Songs Around the World inspired us to unite many of…
This video was first published in 2011, before Cailleah Scott-Grimes went to Japan for the first time. Here it is re-published with questions by Fabiana Fondevila, an Argentine journalist, and responses by Cailleah. Fabiana (by email): Tue, 10 May 2011. Hello Cailleah, Its nice to meet you. I am a journalist from Argentina and I’ve…
Ronald L. Grimes The picture shows how the day looked. Here’s how the day began: Five minutes before the procession, I rush to a basement bathroom with explosive diarrhea. The procession is starting. A marshal comes to rescue me as I am washing spots off my robe. I try to orient myself. It’s 2014. This…
From a letter written by Kevin Bott, founder of Rites4Return: “As I dug into the literature, and then into the literature on rites of passage — from van Gennep to Eliade to Turner to… well… you — I knew that I possessed, in both practical skill and spiritual/emotional calling, the tools to create something real….
I’ve just returned from Union Theological Seminary in New York, where I was working with Claudio Carvales, a professor of worship, and his students in a course called Creating Rituals in Community: The Work of Mourning The Earth. Together they design rituals in class, then enact them publicly in James Chapel. Recently, they confessed to…
An Incantatory Riff for a Global Medicine Show Prior to publication, this was a script for oral performance. Publication required the decorum, the civilizing influence, of those speed bumps we call paragraph breaks. Even though the original script was not written as poetry, it looked like poetry on the page. It looked that way to…
On the Embodiment of Liturgical Authority This article was published quite some time ago, in 1993. Buried in an important but obscure journal, Studia Liturgica, it was rarely read. After the recent papal council on clergy sexual abuse, debates about gender, celibacy, and the priesthood are emerging in the media. It seemed the right time…
A CBC interview about secular and personal ritual.
Below are some interviews about
- rites of passage
- do-it-yourself ritual
- ritual and science.
When I first began teaching in the Netherlands, I marvelled at the number of Dutch bikes that swarmed the streets. Exiting Velorama, Nijmegen’s tightly packed little bike museum, I jokingly said to a colleague, “The Dutch imagination is profoundly ‘bicyciular.’” Each time I was back in Nijmegen, I had to walk past a bike shop….
Everybody dies, and lots of people immigrate. But few Muslims marry Jews, and Mohawks rarely cross the river to conduct Condolence ceremonies among non-natives. Why? “A Daughter’s Song” doesn’t quite answer the question, but it captures what happens when such events coincide. Three months after the death of Myriam Azoulay, Mohawks, invited by artists affiliated…
Norwegians sometimes refer to July 22, 2011, as their “9/11,” the day their perceptions were changed forever by an act of violence. An assassin exploded a car bomb beneath a government building in Oslo, then ferried to Utoya island, where he hunted down and shot Labour Party youth attending a summer camp. In the end,…
When Cailleah was a kid, she complained, “Creativity, creativity, creativity…that’s all I hear in this family. I’m sick of all that C stuff.” Twenty-five or so year later she’s released her first documentary film, She Got Game, and Bryn, his first music album, Room on Ossington. We must have seduced them into creativity and imagination. We can…
My kids are too old to give assignments, but I hired Bryn as an assistant to carry out two assignments. In the first I asked him to read Irving Goffman’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and make a short film about everyday ritualization.
How he convinced his mom to be the star of O Mother, Where Art Thou I will never know. She still talks about the video and says how much she enjoyed the process of making it. Since she’s camera-shy (maybe even camera-hostile), that’s quite a feat. Even as I write this, she is ensconced in her writing ritual with a coffee to her left and scone crumbs to the right.
For the second assignment I hired Bryn as a research assistant to help me do video work on Prague’s Velvet Carnival. Since he’s a musician, I asked him to do something with the music of the festival. Instead of writing about it, he composed a song:
- aging, childhood, adolescence
- arms, guns, weapons
- art & image
- art, artists
- body language
- creative nonfiction
- culture, history
- death, mortality, the dead
- ecology, environment
- economy, work
- essays, articles
- ethnicity, racism, multiculturalism
- food, meals, eating
- funeral, commemoration
- funerals, cemeteries
- gender, sexuality
- gesture, posture
- imagination, creativity
- media, technology
- metaphor, symbol
- moving, mobility
- nature and ritual
- peace, conflict, war
- performance, play, entertainment
- religion, spirituality
- rites of passage
- ritual, festival
- space, territory
- story & essay
- things, objects
- time, history
- video & audio
- walking, processing, marching
- worldview, ontology