Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I just noticed what I think is supposed to be so interesting about the article on the Consumption Rituals of Thanksgiving Day. It is illustrating how “Americans use ritual consumption to construct culture” (83). This claim doesn’t really sound like much, the article made it itself several times before I paid it any attention. However, if one is willing to think about culture the way they think about religion (which this article certainly encourages) that statement has a great number of implications.

In class I’ve heard Dr. Rein say religion may be a word that is impossible to define, like culture or nation. Adding those two as examples of equally difficult things to define always seemed strange to me. Granted they are hard to define, but it never seemed to me as though they were hard to define in the same way religion is. I was wrong though. Those are the comparisons to make. Through the ritual of Thanksgiving Americans are answering for themselves questions as difficult to answer as many of the ones people turn to religion to answer. Or, alternately, through rituals like Thanksgiving we are paying attention to things the same we would to things we call religious. I think it’s interesting to note that this article mentions the use of Christmas in terms of the holiday season, and assigns to it a meaning very different then many of those who celebrate Christmas would, and it backs it up. Looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Thanksgiving, in the way it is celebrated, is more about birth than Christmas.

Ritual is presented as creating the beliefs in this article. I agree with that view point and while in most religions the beliefs rituals celebrated are supposed to be clearly defined I seems impossible that it isn’t a two way street. That the rituals themselves aren’t effecting beliefs and much as beliefs effect ritual seems impossible. I mean I know we’ve already discussed not just accepting people’s word for what they believe, we discussed it Monday in fact, but I think this article shows me why in a way I wasn’t seeing before.

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