Read Them Their Rites: The Need for Ritual Spaces
Editor’s note: This post is the second in a two-part series. Check out Part 1: Read Them Their Rites.
The American Sunday ritual seems to involve church, rest, family, and watching football.
Rituals that involve the broader community include the Fourth or July and the Olympics. We also have personal rituals like brushing our teeth, nightly prayers, or reading on the train ride to work. And then we have communal ritual spaces like theatres, chapels, night clubs, concert halls, and arenas.
What meaning do these ritual spaces carry? Last post, I discussed how rites of passage can anchor a man’s sense of belonging, purpose, and value in a society. Similarly, ritual spaces are safe places for a man to play the game, learn the rules, and test his/her identity among like-minded people.
The ritual space is a reflection of the real world, yet set apart from it, yet sacred.
Dmitri Bilgere writes, “In pretend, (sometimes called ‘ritual,’ or ‘theatrical’) spaces, such as support groups or therapy groups, we can do things we would never want to do in reality, without consequences. This is very important. I believe we have developed into a civilization that can so easily destroy the world—in reality—because we are also a civilization which has few places to destroy the world in pretend.” Ritual spaces are safe places to act out the glory and tumult of the soul without judgment or real world consequences.
I didn’t grow up with a lot of familial ritual space. We didn’t celebrate birthdays. We didn’t celebrate holidays. We didn’t eat dinner at the table. We had no rituals I can remember. The Crucible weekend and Crucible men’s groups have been my ritual space. In Crucible work I am able to explore my masculinity and my spirituality, be a man among men. I am able to “present my body a living and holy sacrifice unto him…for worship…to be transformed and renewed in my mind.”
Might formal ritual spaces be the remedy for broken people in a broken world?
What happens if we don’t provide ritual spaces for our sons and daughters? Gangs will. Extreme sports and drug infested raves will. Pleasure and sports addiction will. Did you know that the Super Bowl is the site of the highest sex trafficking day of the year? And in a recent study, 76 of 79 football players had some form of brain disease. Are the energies we put into our current rituals producing the results we want?
What if we provide meaningful and communal ritual spaces for our sons and daughters instead of leaving them on their own generation after generation?
What if our energies didn’t come out sideways in these dysfunctional and mediocre ritual spaces? We might be less sexualized and more sensitive to violence. We might spend less time watching sports and more time watching our own health. We might spend less time on porn sites and more time engaged in face-to-face connection. We might spend less time overworking our careers and more time working to order our families.
- Are they doing enough to anchor our collective and individual souls?
- Do you have a communal ritual space for yourself?
By Marc Mantasoot
Marc completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2004 and graduated from our two-year transformational program in 2008. He wants to help others pursue their God-given joy and free the world of ego. He is an award-winning poet, writer, small groups/discipleship coach, high school English teacher and martial arts trainer. He provides powerful methods for life transformation at marcmantasoot.com. His greatest joys: Creating scenes with his son, lining up My Little Ponies with his baby girl, and pursuing his irresistible wife.
Photo Credit: Pixabay