Author Topic: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event  (Read 116 times)

indar9

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Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event

The most simple statement I am prepared to make about spirituality is in relationship to its place in the emotional and social maturation of the individual who engages in a life-long process of becoming who he or she is meant to be. The person who is willing to present an openness of spirit to the community and the communication of an inner wisdom of the self, experiences deeply moving insights that promote an evolution of that person's ethical and compassionate being. Such insights might be viewed as sacramental events.

Those of us brought up in the Christian church have been introduced to doctrinal sacraments from simple events such as baptism and marriage in liberal, protestant denominations to the rigorous seven sacraments of the more orthodox Christian churches. I intend to look at such sacraments in modern America to determine which of their elements have persisted through the history of evolving communities of faith in this country. I will pose the question of whether those elements can be applied to life situations in which the church sacraments have become irrelevant. And I will explore the possibility that those applications might enrich the lives of ongoing communities of faith.

For the purpose of my discussion, I will use the most universally understood sacraments of marriage and baptism. The first element of both is that they are performed in community. Whether in infancy at the election by the parents or later in life at the discretion of the individual, baptism is performed in a faith community that affirms the dedication by that community to support the individual's induction into their midst. In marriage the community accepts the married couple as sanctified in their life together. In both cases it is the affirmation by the community that validates the sacramental event. That validation must be preceded by individual recognition of a life-changing commitment either by the parents of the infant or the individual to be baptized or the couple to be married.

Both sacramental events are accompanied by rituals that include vows by the persons being celebrated to commit to a way of life meant to further a development of moral living in community. Here is where the idea of moral development as it is understood in modern sacrament runs into trouble. A persistent theme in religious thought is the duality between a legalistic view of morality and its opposite which is often defined in vague terms as love. It is possible to strive to meet the requirements of legalism by observing, let us say, the ten commandments as they are interpreted from Christian scripture without developing the ethos, empathy and compassion that are the marks of a true morality.

I will attempt to understand a true morality by articulating religious impulse in a context of non-legalistic relativism rooted in elements of some of the earliest and most pervasive human responses to the sacred. Mircea Eliade's book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy explores a prehistoric form of religiosity. Central to the shamanic practice is the idea of suffering, death and resurrection. We have an actual visual representation of the ritualized practice on the well-known cave paintings in Lascaux France. The image is of the prostrate figure, “the bird man,” in a shamanic trance that is dated from 17,300 years BCE. Perhaps it is from these earliest practices that later rituals that represent suffering, death and resurrection flows but I prefer to stand with those who believe there is an intuitive human understanding of life as an advancement to ultimate mystery and communion through constant death to the old and rebirth to the new that involves a kind of suffering with those who suffer.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2019, 04:08:59 PM by indar9 »

Lin Treadgold

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Re: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2019, 10:07:59 AM »
I am not qualified to comment on essays but I did read this, and one thing struck me was that this work was an essay of intent.

All the way through when I read this, was what you intended to do.  I thought (and correct me if I am wrong) that an essay was about what you had done and the effects it would have after you had done it.  (not sure)

When you say you intend to do something, I always feel that you cannot write about something which has not yet been tried and tested to write an essay about it. As the reader, I found it frustrating and not plausible enough to write about what you intend to do.  I would much rather read about what you did and what you discovered about it.  Intention, for me, is not interesting enough.  It's like saying 'I will do it, one day soon.'  Not positive enough and therefore I didn't get enough reader satisfaction.

I am a novelist and not an essay writer, but it was the intentions which kind of irritated me. I wanted to say, 'well, get on with it!'

The content, however, evades me. I had to trust that your writing would be of interest to those who know about these things.  Perhaps I didn't 'get it'. Your writing seems to ramble a bit too.  I wanted you to get more to the point. 

So as a layman, please don't take my comments as absolute.  I hope it helps with your thoughts on the essay as a whole.



Lin

« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 10:10:47 AM by Lin Treadgold »

indar9

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Re: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2019, 03:12:20 PM »
Hi Lin,

Thank you so much for reading this and commenting I'm writing an essay according to a methodology. Theological writing can drive a person nuts. As in thesis writing, one tells the reader what one intends to tell the reader whilst establishing terminology and the context in which the terms are understood. Then one tells what one wants to tell the reader. Then one sums up what one has told the reader.

So I plan to develop the idea of an overarching theme that empathy is the ability to suffer with those who suffer and look at how that idea has been expressed in history.

I wondered if anyone on this forum would find the intro interesting. I really want to thank you for plowing through it and commenting :) :)

Lin Treadgold

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Re: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2019, 01:07:28 PM »
That's okay, look at my comments from a layman's point of view.  I'm really not qualified to comment on this one, but felt it was not a subject that most would tackle.  Just wanted to help. :D :D :D

Lin


indar9

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Re: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2019, 03:18:40 PM »
I've rewritten and added on to the ending of this intro. In the process I've repeated the word "that" a bunch of times. I am struggling with ways to keep the content and get rid of the repetition. In the MWC glory days there would have been a lively exchange about the problem. But I haven't bothered to post the edit here given the days and days it sat until you commented, Again I greatly appreciated your input.

I'm not a creative prose writer but I am an appreciator and I sometimes think I have things to add to prose writing by others. I guess what I am writing here could as well be added to the "disappointed" thread. You read and commented on this writing even though the content is not in your lane.

BTW poetry forums are struggling right now as well. Has an evil anti-writing forum spirit fallen upon the land?

Skrrt

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Re: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2019, 01:44:43 AM »
Hey indar,

I lack the brainpower today to give you a full critique (I'm a bit unwell), but I thought I might start with something. This is an interesting and complicated topic, and I don't envy you the process of writing an essay on it! You clearly have a solid grasp of your subject and I would be interested to see where this essay goes.

My main feedback is that this would benefit from being stripped back. Because you are dealing with abstract concepts, it is helpful to remove any unnecessary verbiage that overwhelms the reader and prevents them from arriving at the desired conclusion. This is entirely my opinion but there's something to be said for plain English (or, plainer English). I have to point out, too, that your topic of study is definitely not my area of expertise – I'm focusing only on trying to understand, as a reader.

For example:

The most simple statement I am prepared to make about spirituality is in relationship to its place in the emotional and social maturation of the individual who engages in a life-long process of becoming who he or she is meant to be.

For me, the words in red could be removed without affecting your overall sentiment. They're an unnecessary run up to the important stuff. I would take them out. The use of the phrases '...I am prepared to make' and 'is in relationship to' are a little like throat-clearing; you're introducing an introduction to an idea and not yet giving us the important stuff.

The words in blue could be reworded or made more succinct. The idea of a 'lifelong process' and 'becoming who he or she is meant to be' are quite broad/abstract, and they pull the focus from the real rockstars of this sentence, which are the ideas of emotional and social maturation. What do you mean by this last part? Could you clearly show how it ties in with the rest of the sentence?

- Spirituality can shape the emotional and spiritual maturation of an individual over a lifetime.

- Spirituality can shape the emotional and spiritual maturation of an individual and build self-identity.


Because I'm not quite sure what the sentence is trying to say at the end, I'm not being particularly helpful with the rework. But hopefully you get what I'm saying. If you're able to cut closer to the heart of each sentence or idea, this content will be easier for the reader to digest.


Those of us brought up in the Christian church have been introduced to doctrinal sacraments from simple events such as baptism and marriage in liberal, protestant denominations to the rigorous seven sacraments of the more orthodox Christian churches.

(Green = repetition)

- The Christian church introduced us to not only basic doctrinal sacraments – such as baptism and marriage, as practised by liberal protestant denominations – but also the more rigorous 'seven sacraments' practised by more orthodox denominations.

I may have interpreted this incorrectly, but with a little cutting back and a bit of parallel, I think the meaning of the sentence (as I saw it) is clearer.

Take with grain of salt, ya know.

Jaz

indar9

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Re: Introduction to an Essay on Spirituality and the Sacramental Event
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2019, 05:31:59 AM »
Thank you Skrrt for your thoughtful comments. I will try a rewrite. I tend to want to justify or equivocate on statements i make-- the voice in my head says "who do you think you are making these authoritative sounding pronouncements?"