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A Sense Of Community By Rituals Essay

, Research Paper A Sense of Community by Rituals “In Christ, we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others”(Romans 12.5). From that

, Research Paper

A Sense of Community by Rituals

“In Christ, we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others”(Romans 12.5). From that

definition, human’s innate need to bond together is apparent, providing the basis of a community. In the religious

sense, a community can be described as the interaction between a group of individuals. All communities need

distinguishing factors that not only unite the members in thought but also in action. Rituals within the community

are traits that provide just that. They help characterize and unite the group within the organization. In Religious

Worlds, William Paden describes the term ritual as a “form of expressive action.” “It says things that cannot be

said as effectively in any other medium. It focuses, displays, enacts, creates, remembers and transforms” (Paden

120). Rituals, whether they are directly inside the church service or reaching beyond into the surrounding

community, have the ability to transform God’s will into feasible actions. In Spring Hills Baptist church, a large

emphasis is placed on the community and it’s rituals. In order to define the community within Spring Hills, one

must examine the rituals and service and how they relate to the larger works of the church.

Spring Hills has very unique aspects of architecture and technology that make it quite comfortable. The church is

merely a few years old, so the structure is profoundly modern and geometric. The focal lines are rigid with no

sense of curves. The congregation convenes on covered chairs instead of pews, and the white walls intensify the

brightness and enormity from the already vivid lighting. There are also no stained glass windows, but instead

large pained windows that allow a lot of light to enter. Such bright lighting keeps everyone aware and awake.

The ceiling is fairly raised, but remains inconspicuous due to fact that it does not have any designs to draw

attention to it. Nothing echoes in the sanctuary, which allows people to talk at a regular speaking voice and

everything is very solid. It is the exact opposite of a museum, where

Radliff, Mathewson, Zamberlan

often times there is feeling that if a wrong move is made, something might break. Here everything is comfortably

strong and secure. People do not have to be cautious in fear of drawing attention to themselves. The building

extends out even further to contain a school, which explains why the sanctuary has markings on the carpet for

use as a gymnasium and other multipurpose functions. The use of technology also adds to the efficiency. During

the service there is a variety of spotlights, sound equipment, and projectors, and musical instruments used. To the

right of the pastor there was a full sized rock band, and to the left of him a forty member choir. All of the people

involved wore regular dress clothes, nothing uniform. This gave the effect that they had no authority over the

congregation and the musicians were just using their talents to praise God.

One apparent aspect of the ritual of gathering together on Sunday is that it not only draws the congregation

together physically, but also has a tendency to bond them emotionally. Society offers few chances for this level of

participation, which intensifies the feeling of belonging at church. The strength offered by a group of people is

easier than standing alone. It is very difficult to stand alone and also be strong. This sentiment is reiterated in

Hebrews 10:19 “Banding together can provide the stimulus that will help believers grow in the grace and

knowledge of Christ.” The support each member can impart to other members contributes to the advancement up

the religious ladder. During their daily lives, the members are destined to surrender to sin. Because of this, they

need a constant renewal of their faith in order to avoid a situation out of their control. If one person stumbles out

of line, they can rely on their fellow believers to lead them back in the right direction. One 17-year-old member of

the church, Steve Tuttle, said “If I’m doing something that does not glorify God, I can count on my friends to

Radliff, Mathewson, Zamberlan

show me how I can improve my actions and back their point up with scripture.” There is also only a communal

acceptance deeming the sacraments unnecessary for salvation, but rather a bilateral relationship with Christ and

the nurturing and support from the community. The pastor encourages members to be committed and have a

personal relationship with God for salvation, there is no mention of performing particular actions to gain

acceptance into Heaven.

Another more tangible ritual in the church is singing. Vocalizing emotions is a way people join

together. When the minister of praise, Brad Pikington, approached the question of why the church does not have

hymnals readily available and instead uses projection screens, he responded ” Without hymnals, the

congregation is more united. Their voices are louder and more prominent their energy is more directed towards

God and the Church.” Choruses not only unite the community into joint praise, but also let’s individuals convey

their particular emotions and sentiment in their worship. Often times people are so moved with emotion they

raise theirs arms together in praise. Normally, there are a variety of songs within the sermon, in order to draw out

distinct emotions that subsequently clarifies the emotional connection. One sentiment, which exemplifies these

emotions, is the triumphant shout of ‘Amen’. Amen, in some respects is a “party shout”. When the people in the

congregations shout the simple two-syllable word, emotions such as gaiety, joy and festivity can be conveyed.

Singing is not the only ritual that joined the congregation together.

Less formal rituals also create the same sense of community. For instance, offerings are also a way that the

members of the community can sustain the church together and ensure its continuation. According to Minister

Pinkington “every member of the congregation has to feel the need to participate in the church and share the

burden.” The understanding that donating

Radliff, Mathewson, Zamberlan

money binds everyone in a common alliance confirms a common goal in the advancement of the church. It is

also understood that funding would not be possible without everyone’s help. Each

week a few members of the church take time to contribute refreshments for the church. It is a focal point of

socializing before and after the service. A simple act such as this establishes personal relationships within the

congregation. It gives the members a sense of unity and even security. During this time one can sense that their

relationship extends beyond Sunday morning, with talk of basketball games, children’s activities, school

functions, work experiences or just sharing something important that happened to them that we

At one point or another, everyone has felt shame and self-doubt about physical inferiority. In Autobiography of a

Face, Lucy Grealy’s struggle with cancer appeared minor in comparison to her feelings of repulsiveness because

of the deformity it caused. While coming to terms with who she is, the effects of society’s stress on beauty and its

unforgiving cultural mirror is enhanced by her gender. Females in our society feel more compelled to adapt to the

prescribed standards of attractiveness. By means of positive and negative events, she transforms her misfortune

into a revelation about beauty and universal truths.

The confusion and loneliness of childhood began to engulf her as children began to tease and treat her

as inferior: “Hey girl take of your monster mask – oops. She’s not wearing a mask!” (118). The Chemotherapy

caused hair loss and a sickly appearance and the numerous operations left her face deformed. She felt ugly as a

response to people’s public display of shock. As if the stares and whispers were not harsh enough, some children

would even call her ‘baldy’ as they would run past and knock off her hat. At school, girls would gaze at her

disfigurement and boys would laugh shamelessly as they pointed and blurted out insults. All of these experiences

added to the sense of shame that consumed her. Our culture’s preoccupation with physical beauty is definitely

manifested in our youth and adolescents. At an early age, Lucy was exposed to the cultural drive for perfection in

exchange for acceptance.

Halloween was a treasured night for Lucy as she was growing up. It gave her an opportunity to break

out of her shell and let her true personality shine through. Behind a mask, she felt protected from any nasty

comments because no one could acknowledge her physical flaw. Without a second thought, she would ask

questions and make bold comments. One of her observations led to one of her eventual revelations. “My sister

and her friends never had to worry about their appearance, or so it seemed to me, so why didn’t they always feel

as bold and as happy as I felt that night?” (120). In the long run, she recognizes that people have to come to

terms with feelings of ugliness and imperfection and that people will always be envying someone else’s life. She

was not completely alone in her feelings of deficiency. The stress for beauty is placed on all women, and most

feel they also have shortcomings in attractiveness.

Lucy found a source of refuge from society’s viciousness in animals. She vowed to love her dogs and

cats so extensively that it would prove her worthy to receive that same sort of love. Her romantic relationship

with her horses supplied her with the understanding that the characteristics that make people beautiful are not

always visible. There was a complete trust that aided in the binding of their personalities. Her days spent with the

horses were filled with smiles, laughter, and happiness. Performing well with the horses gave her a sense of

self-pride and accomplishment to center her life around. Society made her feel too ugly for love or acceptance.

The animals were not influenced by her outward appearance, but instead by her actions, personality, and spirit:

“Horses neither disapproved or approved of what I looked like. All that counted was how I treated them, how my

actions weighted themselves in the world” (152). These ideal relationships not only allowed her to experience the

valiant, true, intense love she longed for in human companions, but also gave her a way of coping with her

loneliness. She also came to understand the real beauty of the world, the beauty that swells beneath the surface

of every being.

The harshness of her peers did not end when she became older. Groups of drunken men would hoot at

her from a distance, but taunt her once they saw her face. The boys in High School had done the same thing, but

instead would become silent with rejection when they saw her face. Another incident that smothered her

self-esteem happened when a homeless man, begging for money, approached her from behind. When she

turned around and revealed her face, he apologized and gave her a dollar bill. These occurrences demonstrate

the intricate relationship between beauty and self-respect in our society. The improper, crude, drunken men were

only trying to come across as tough and cool to their friends. The homeless man evidently illustrates that even

though he probably doesn’t have a job, education, or economic status, he considers her ugliness to make her

worse off than him. Her feelings of inadequacy were confirmed by society’s relentless treatment toward her

appearance.

During one of her recessions in self-esteem, her friend form college, Greg, pulled her up by taking her

dancing at gay clubs. Being encompassed by homosexual males gave her a blanket of security: “No one took

notice of me – I was without value in this world. It was easy to sublimate my own desire and sustain my feelings

of physical worthlessness” (201). She knew that none of the men there cared about her attractiveness because in

their minds she was no less desirable than any other female. As each beat of the music moved through her body,

she was able to let her emotions escape. During her senior year of college she met a group of transvestites that

experimented with her femininity by spreading on loads of makeup. These experiences helped begin to define

her feminine appearance and acceptance from males.

Lucy believed that not having a lover meant she was ultimately unlovable, and too ugly to ever get a

lover. Sex was her salvation. “If only I could get someone to have sex with me, it would mean I was attractive,

that someone could love me” (206). Miniskirts, garter belts, high heels and her dedication to her healthy, fit body

allowed her to be more feminine as she added to her list of sexual encounters. Her certainty that only love from

another person could prove her value left her looking for love in all the wrong places. How she, as a woman,

would find her place in society would not be truly revealed to her until later. Sex and fashion did not fill her void,

but did play an important role in her self-definition and insight for need of something more definite.

In our society, women are especially pressured to wear their beauty on the surface. Lucy found hers

within as she accepted her obvious disfigurement. After this revelation she experienced a moment of freedom:

“I’d had [freedom] behind my Halloween mask all those years. As a child I expected my liberation to come from

getting a new face put on, but now I saw it came from shedding my image” (222). Throughout her life she tried to

overcome the teasing, the stares, the whispers, the absence of love, and the overall harshness of her peers by

finding outlets for her oppressed emotions of loneliness. Although Halloween, animals, dancing, fashion

expression, and sex gave her some compensation, none of these could give her complete self-assurance. She

had longed to be accepted by society’s standards, but came to terms with her feelings and acknowledged her true

self. As her soul unfolded, her personality was no longer restrained by feelings of insecurity and need to conform

to feminine standards.

At one point or another, everyone has felt shame and self-doubt about physical inferiority. In Autobiography of a

Face, Lucy Grealy’s struggle with cancer appeared minor in comparison to her feelings of repulsiveness because

of the deformity it caused. While coming to terms with who she is, the effects of society’s stress on beauty and its

unforgiving cultural mirror is enhanced by her gender. Females in our society feel more compelled to adapt to the

prescribed standards of attractiveness. By means of positive and negative events, she transforms her misfortune

into a revelation about beauty and universal truths.

The confusion and loneliness of childhood began to engulf her as children began to tease and treat her

as inferior: “Hey girl take of your monster mask – oops. She’s not wearing a mask!” (118). The Chemotherapy

caused hair loss and a sickly appearance and the numerous operations left her face deformed. She felt ugly as a

response to people’s public display of shock. As if the stares and whispers were not harsh enough, some children

would even call her ‘baldy’ as they would run past and knock off her hat. At school, girls would gaze at her

disfigurement and boys would laugh shamelessly as they pointed and blurted out insults. All of these experiences

added to the sense of shame that consumed her. Our culture’s preoccupation with physical beauty is definitely

manifested in our youth and adolescents. At an early age, Lucy was exposed to the cultural drive for perfection in

exchange for acceptance.

Halloween was a treasured night for Lucy as she was growing up. It gave her an opportunity to break

out of her shell and let her true personality shine through. Behind a mask, she felt protected from any nasty

comments because no one could acknowledge her physical flaw. Without a second thought, she would ask

questions and make bold comments. One of her observations led to one of her eventual revelations. “My sister

and her friends never had to worry about their appearance, or so it seemed to me, so why didn’t they always feel

as bold and as happy as I felt that night?” (120). In the long run, she recognizes that people have to come to

terms with feelings of ugliness and imperfection and that people will always be envying someone else’s life. She

was not completely alone in her feelings of deficiency. The stress for beauty is placed on all women, and most

feel they also have shortcomings in attractiveness.

Lucy found a source of refuge from society’s viciousness in animals. She vowed to love her dogs and

cats so extensively that it would prove her worthy to receive that same sort of love. Her romantic relationship

with her horses supplied her with the understanding that the characteristics that make people beautiful are not

always visible. There was a complete trust that aided in the binding of their personalities. Her days spent with the

horses were filled with smiles, laughter, and happiness. Performing well with the horses gave her a sense of

self-pride and accomplishment to center her life around. Society made her feel too ugly for love or acceptance.

The animals were not influenced by her outward appearance, but instead by her actions, personality, and spirit:

“Horses neither disapproved or approved of what I looked like. All that counted was how I treated them, how my

actions weighted themselves in the world” (152). These ideal relationships not only allowed her to experience the

valiant, true, intense love she longed for in human companions, but also gave her a way of coping with her

loneliness. She also came to understand the real beauty of the world, the beauty that swells beneath the surface

of every being.

The harshness of her peers did not end when she became older. Groups of drunken men would hoot at

her from a distance, but taunt her once they saw her face. The boys in High School had done the same thing, but

instead would become silent with rejection when they saw her face. Another incident that smothered her

self-esteem happened when a homeless man, begging for money, approached her from behind. When she

turned around and revealed her face, he apologized and gave her a dollar bill. These occurrences demonstrate

the intricate relationship between beauty and self-respect in our society. The improper, crude, drunken men were

only trying to come across as tough and cool to their friends. The homeless man evidently illustrates that even

though he probably doesn’t have a job, education, or economic status, he considers her ugliness to make her

worse off than him. Her feelings of inadequacy were confirmed by society’s relentless treatment toward her

appearance.

During one of her recessions in self-esteem, her friend form college, Greg, pulled her up by taking her

dancing at gay clubs. Being encompassed by homosexual males gave her a blanket of security: “No one took

notice of me – I was without value in this world. It was easy to sublimate my own desire and sustain my feelings

of physical worthlessness” (201). She knew that none of the men there cared about her attractiveness because in

their minds she was no less desirable than any other female. As each beat of the music moved through her body,

she was able to let her emotions escape. During her senior year of college she met a group of transvestites that

experimented with her femininity by spreading on loads of makeup. These experiences helped begin to define

her feminine appearance and acceptance from males.

Lucy believed that not having a lover meant she was ultimately unlovable, and too ugly to ever get a

lover. Sex was her salvation. “If only I could get someone to have sex with me, it would mean I was attractive,

that someone could love me” (206). Miniskirts, garter belts, high heels and her dedication to her healthy, fit body

allowed her to be more feminine as she added to her list of sexual encounters. Her certainty that only love from

another person could prove her value left her looking for love in all the wrong places. How she, as a woman,

would find her place in society would not be truly revealed to her until later. Sex and fashion did not fill her void,

but did play an important role in her self-definition and insight for need of something more definite.

In our society, women are especially pressured to wear their beauty on the surface. Lucy found hers

within as she accepted her obvious disfigurement. After this revelation she experienced a moment of freedom:

“I’d had [freedom] behind my Halloween mask all those years. As a child I expected my liberation to come from

getting a new face put on, but now I saw it came from shedding my image” (222). Throughout her life she tried to

overcome the teasing, the stares, the whispers, the absence of love, and the overall harshness of her peers by

finding outlets for her oppressed emotions of loneliness. Although Halloween, animals, dancing, fashion

expression, and sex gave her some compensation, none of these could give her complete self-assurance. She

had longed to be accepted by society’s standards, but came to terms with her feelings and acknowledged her true

self. As her soul unfolded, her personality was no longer restrained by feelings of insecurity and need to conform

to feminine standards.

346

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