left biblioblography: Reclaiming The Rites Of Passage

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Reclaiming The Rites Of Passage

(Cross-posted at God is for Suckers!)

"A funeral is a pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker." - Ambrose Bierce


A recent post by a dear friend of mine, Beep!Beep! It's Me, about the topic of marriage, started me weary old brain cells a-percolatin'.

It has occurred to me, that the religious have not only co-opted our language, but have also hijacked those moments in our lives that speak of transition.

Momentous transitions in our lives, from beginning to bonding to end, are viewed overall as requiring some religious institution to oversee them.

Baptisms, to mark birth. Weddings, to mark marriage. Funerals, to provide closure for the grieving.

So many have been brainwashed into viewing any and all rites of passage as needing an obligatory nod from on high.

When indeed, not only marriage, but funereal rites and the welcoming of a new child into the world are as old as our species, long before those ugly monolithic monotheisms came shambling along and dug their metaphorical tentacles into the pulse of humanity.

We are creatures that yearn for structure, and long for routine. A ritual need not be religious in content for it to do us good. Even though the word rite is religious by definition. That, for the record, is another word I'm co-opting, and anyone who doesn't like it can go take a flying leap.

So I say, we reclaim the rites of passage. No, no padre at the funeral, thanks. Baptisms? No thanks. Circumcision? Fahgetaboutit! Church wedding? I can't go into a church, since my skin starts sizzling like a steak on a grill when I enter one (oops! Shouldn't oughta let that slip, ssshhh! Don't tell anyone!).

So spread the word, let it sound, shout it from the rooftops, spray it on a wall, or whisper it in someone's ear. Let it be heard:

We want our rites back. Free of the shackles of superstition, free of the fear, free of the whispers of old ghosts that never were.

And I, for one, shall not say please.

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