I am a fan of the book “The Evolution of God” even though it is at times laborious to read and sometimes feels like a conspiracy theorist making his/her case. While I do not have the time to go though the entire book I wanted to share a line from the book and then what it evoked in me.
The author is talking about the rituals that a fisherman and canoe builders in ancient tribes would do in order to ‘please the gods’ of their home or tribe. Some of these things that were done seemed rather odd and seemingly unrelated to fishing or canoe crafting, but the author writes, “is indeed hard to argue that removing all black from the home is, in and of itself, time well spent for the ambitious angler. Still, the combined effect of all these rituals was to cloak the business of canoe building and fishing in an air of solemnity that presumably encouraged exacting and conscientious performance.”
While it seems sort of silly for me to think that people believed a bigger catch or better canoe would result in the removal of the color black from their homes, I can appreciate it.
What I mean is that I too have my rituals and my disciplines which, to some viewing them from afar, might seem silly or unrelated. I read the Bible. I engage in conversations on theology. I maintain a blog. I cross my forehead, wipe my face and kiss my left ring finger after a prayer. I worship on Sunday. I even have a ritual when I get to work each day.
Ritual is something in my life that is very helpful not because I believe I am persuading the ‘gods’ to work on my behalf as though my wishes are first on God’s ‘to do list’. Nor do I engage in rituals in order to keep ‘the gods’ happy. I do not worship to persuade or keep God happy. I worship, I partake in ritual in part because it “encourages exacting and conscientious” living.
Everyone has rituals in their lives. You might not even be aware of them. So the next time I see someone praying in a certain way, walking in a certain way, or even to the extent of practicing what I might consider “superstitions”, I will give pause to consider that perhaps their ritual may not be as silly as it looks.