April 9th, 2007

Bast

Purity is interesting, but so is superstition

A recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher brought up purity balls. I hadn't heard of them before, but apparently they're pretty common. Basically, a father and daughter go through a process a lot like a wedding (sometimes involving cake and rings), and the dad signs a "covenant" to protect his daughter's virginity until she gets married. I remember ranting a few years ago about a growing movement of fathers deciding whom their daughters could date, and this is the same kind of thing, but with a disturbing ceremony mixed in. I haven't heard of anything comparable involving boys and/or mothers, so it's obviously quite patriarchal. Why there are still a significant number of people who are cool with the idea of women being one step away (or, in some extreme cases, not even one step away) from being property is beyond me, but I guess it ties into the Golden Age mentality. For that matter, I've never been particularly fond of the idea of marriage as a magical line in the sand, either. If someone is in a committed monogamous relationship and NOT married, the only real difference seems to be that they didn't pay an official and sign a legal document. Since it's mostly religious people who have this view of marriage, the logical conclusion seems to be that God is in favor of bureaucracy. And given the evidence, I can probably believe that. {g}

Seriously, marriage does work for many people, and I have no problem with that. But this ties into another topic I've been thinking about recently, which is the importance of ritual in human life. Religions generally tend to mix ritual with belief in a higher power, but I don't think the two HAVE to be joined together like that. I find myself wondering how many people participate in prayers, sacraments, and religious observations because they really think it's how to get right with God; and how many just do these things because, well, they're just what you do. The thing is, I know plenty of atheists, but I don't know if there are very many people who don't have SOME kind of ritual in their lives. So what's my point? I'm not sure. Maybe that ritual is actually a more important aspect of religion, or at least of just generally being human, than faith? I don't know.

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I'm behind on reading my friends list and replying to comments. Hopefully I'll get back on track after my taxes are out of the way, but I'm not promising anything. (Yeah, like anyone really cares.)