2010-01-26

201 Toolkit: Roy Rappaport on Ritual

Once again we'll turn to Roy Rappaport's Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity, this time to examine the idea of ritual. It should come as no surprise that such a term is much-discussed, and definitions abound, offered by ranks of scholars in various disciplines. In the course of studying religion, I necessarily encountered several of these, and ultimately found Rappaport's superior. Of course, as I've mentioned before, I'm particularly fond of Rappaport. While I maintain he's my favorite theorist because his lens proved the most useful all around, nevertheless I'll admit my bias in his favor.

In any case, when I speak of ritual, it is with his definition in mind, a definition which he gives on page 24: "I take the term 'ritual' to denote the performance of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances not entirely encoded by the performers." (Italics his.)