RITUALS

Ritual = man's relation to physical objects.
Religion = man's relation to God, to Creation.
Don't mistake (and idolatrize) the finger pointing
at the moon, for the moon itself.
Do we pick and choose which Bible passages are
literal (e.g., rituals, salvation only through the Son)
and which are only figurative (e.g., Jubilee year
social justice, Matthew 25:32-46), based on which
would affect our lifestyle least, cause us the least
difficulty in our American lives?
The Bible doesn't continually proclaim the Lord's
greatness "for the rituals he gave us," but for
kindness, righteousness and justice.
The Old Testament isn't replete with 
condemnations of people for working on the
Sabbath, or for cutting their payes, or for not
fasting on Yom Kippur. No, it's full of
condemnations of people for violating the positive
and negative ethical injunctions contained
therein.
God made a mistake: Men tend to idolize ritual,
because it's easier to perform rituals than to
follow ethical injunctions. So through the words
of the prophets, God seeks to correct the
situation.
Compare:

        True Religion                vs.          False Religion

humbly universalistic          vs.   proudly ethnocentric

emphasize the spiritual/              emphasis on legalistic/
mystical core of the             vs.   ritualistic compliance
religion and the need for 
growth in those areas

prophetic in seeing our       vs.   the self-congratula-
own real selves and                     tions of the Bible's
society                                            false prophets

above all, it would be a                 the God of "In God
religion of the God of           vs.    We Trust" and self-
peace and social justice               aggrandizement
for men, and seek to 
activate the Biblical 
mandate for us all to 
emulate God in working
with all our might for 
those goals

You should spend all your time loving your
neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked,
healing the sick, housing the homeless, and
freeing the oppressed. Then, if there's any time
left over when that's all done, perform some
rituals. Not spend all your time performing rituals,
and if there's any time left over after that, then
love your neighbor and help the hungry, naked,
sick, homeless and oppressed. Using rituals to
avoid spending time helping your fellow humans
is the worst sin of all, because it implies God
cares more for rituals than for humankind.
Anything, especially a religious practice, that
leads you away from, or takes time from, Tikkun
(healing the world) or from solidarity (stopping
torture, rape, mutilation, murder, oppressive
imposition of suffering, unjust and premature
death) -- anything that does so, is of the Devil, not
of God.
When we're covered with the blood of others
we've killed through sins of omission and
commission, going to pray with ritualistic
emphasis is hateful in God's eyes.

I don't really care what group of rituals someone
chooses to perform. I care about what spiritual
knowledge that person takes away from those
rituals, and what that person -- when not
performing rituals -- thinks, feels and does in the
physical world with the rest of my children. 

If a Jew, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or
member of any religion were to live her or his life
fully in accordance with their holy scriptures,
would -- aside from manner of ritual observance --
their thoughts, words and deeds be any different
as to any person, non-human animal, or thing?
NO.
All of creation is beautiful, and every thought,
word and deed is a sacred rite.
Every breath, movement, word, thought and
emotion is sacrament.
 

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  1984-2001