E. Porter – Week 3 – Description of a ritual

There are many rituals in the world that are practiced. A common one that I’ve observed was a religious ceremony known as baptism. Baptism is commonly observed in the Christian religion and almost every denomination of Christianity has some sort of version of it. The symbolism of this particular religion is actually quite important to the religion, as it shows a person who has committed themselves to the religion.

Section 1:

Depending on the church, baptism can occur on any Sunday. However, at least from my experiences, it usually happens on the first and the third Sunday of each month. The ceremony takes most times place inside of the church. It again varies from church to church on whether it takes place in private with the pastor and a few minsters or in front of the entire congregation. For the people who getting baptized, traditionally they are supposed to wear all white while the pastor and the minsters put on their official church robes. The ritual goes as follows; those who are getting baptized get in line in front of a giant tub or body of water (I say this because some churches actually do it in a pond, river, or even a lake). The pastor then says a prayer before they begin, afterwards, each candidate for baptism enters in one at time. When they get in, one or two minsters grab the arms as the pastor ask them if they take Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. If they accept (I’ll be honest, I have never seen anyone decline at this point) then the pastor gives the signal and the minsters then dunk the person into the water for a brief moment, and then bring them back up from the water. That person gets out and dries off as the next person enters. If the ritual is done in front of the congregation, then the congregation remains silent until it is over. Generally the choir would be singing/ humming a quiet hymn as well. Once the last candidate completes the ritual, then the ceremony is over and everyone claps and cheers.

Section 2:

Though this ritual may seem a bit random to someone who is not familiar with it, there is indeed a reason behind why people practice it. Basically it is symbolism of essentially being reborn into the Christian faith. The idea of it is that it is suppose wash away all of the sins that a person has committed in the past is to be washed away by the water, and now that they have a clean slate, they can begin their life with Jesus Christ inside of their hearts. The origin of this ritual was actually a variation off of a couple of different rituals that had the same idea of purification through water. Even in the Old Testament, which is the older part of the bible had a different variation then the one that is practiced today. The key difference though is the inclusion of the deity Jesus Christ in this particular ritual. When analyzing this ceremony, it can be said that it falls in a couple of categories for describing rituals. One is the fact that this is an instrumental rite due to the fact that it is dealing with some sort of deity. Another rite is the rite of passage since it also happens with a group of individuals. The last rite that this falls in but may not be obvious is also a rite of deference. The reason is because, in a since, that is the whole point behind the ceremony. It allows a person to “separate” themselves from society and gives them a chance to try and live a better life with God in it. They do have a status to them, its’s just not typically observed by those outside of the religion.

5 thoughts on “E. Porter – Week 3 – Description of a ritual

  1. In my church-a Methodist church, Baptism goes quite differently. I, myself was baptized when I was only a month old or so. And over the years, I’ve seen far many more babies be baptized than people who are older, and can make decisions for themselves. We bring holy water into the church (my pastor even went to Israel and brought back water from a holy river) and keep it in a small dish. The person (or if it’s a baby the whole family) goes up, the pastor reads some lines and then the pastor and congregation go back and forth reading some lines about how they are to welcome, cherish, and protect this child of God to this place of worship. Then the pastor and the person being baptized, or the family if it’s a baby, say some lines as well. Finally the pastor dips their fingers into the water and draws a cross on the person’s forehead. We don’t get all too wet, and everyone is included in the baptism.

  2. My family also practices the ritual of baptism. My family is a little like the both of you all’s as I was also baptized when I was only a month old. In my culture and religion this is a sign of my parents and families commitment to raising me in a household with a certain set of moral values. Still, when we grow a little older we can take the option of getting baptized again. At these moments this is a decision we make as adults. This signifies our commitment to establishing out own relationship with God. I think that the symbolism for essentially can mean a variety of things to a lot of different families. I think like one of our videos said how we each make meaning out of the ritual in relation to who we are. I think in the realm of faith rituals direct our behavior and serve as milestones on our individual paths of life.

  3. I really like how you use the word can in this post. It shows that you are telling your experience with baptism knowing fully well that many people do it differently. For example how some may have it done on any day but Sunday or how some say that one must be fully submerged vs just being dunked in the water. Also I like how you say it was different in the Old Testament. I for one did not know that it was ever done differently, so that was interesting. The fact that you used multiple rites really helps your post too. If I was doing baptism, I would have simply thought of it as a right of passage and not much more. Though I would have liked to have heard more of some why explanations. You say that it is done because they do it in the bible, which is true, but why do they do it there? Why water? Overall, this was a great post, and gave me a better view as to how or why baptism is done.

  4. The concept of baptism is so interesting. I think for myself growing up in a Christian based home, it was easy for me to see baptisms play out firsthand. Although I was baptized as a baby, I have never been baptized as an adult. Dissecting religions has always been a curiosity for me, relationally many are related, and mimic each other in various ways. Taking a mythology class in college really helped me see how religions formed around and out of one another. I haven’t checked what all religions practice baptisms or something similiar. However, water is synonymous among humans for the life it brings and supports, but also “cleanses”. The psychology behind these rituals really bring a sense of peace, comfort, and renewal to members. I never understood this importance until my father cried over my own salvation. However, I understand, because for that religion, not attending Heaven is a legitimate fear for people, they fear the won’t see others once they are deceased in the after life. The connection to God is the foundation on which many members of christianity base this ritual, but also large parts of their lives.

  5. I definitely agree with baptism being a part of all three of those rites. Being baptized shows to those around you both ideas of ending of a stage in your life before Christianity and to reinforce that you are now a part of a certain division within society.

    To many Christians that I know, baptism is the most important ritual because of the closure it provides to their life before Jesus Christ. You wash away your sins, commit yourself to Christianity, and separate yourself from who you were before the ritual in order to be a better person. It also stresses the new responsibilities that they must follow that align with the teachings of Christianity, to follow the bible.

    For those that watch as a congregation or even as a family, baptism can also be a rite of intensification because it reasserts the bond of Christianity between all those who are present.

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