Significant life passages are marked by ritual in virtually every culture. Weddings and funerals are just two of the most institutionalized yet troubled ones in our own society. A wide variety of rites, both traditional and invented, also mark birth, coming of age, and other major transitions. In Marrying & Burying Ronald Grimes, a founder of the new interdisciplinary field of ritual studies, tells an intensely personal story about the role of ritual in his own rich and sometimes difficult life. His critique of ritual impoverishment in North America reveals the extraordinary potential that ritualizing holds for negotiating and enriching transitions, both exalted and mundane. Always aware that no two people's experiences are alike, he encourages readers to think critically and creatively about the role of ritual in their own lives. As both subject and theorist, Grimes is unflinchingly honest as well as generous, unsentimental, and wise. Using an impressive array of genres, he examines the problems of inventing the self and of finding rites that can stitch together the torn pieces of a man's life. Fiction, poetry, journal, and essay create a multivocal text, a symphonic portrayal of the mysterious and intransigent human need to ritualize. This is a book for anyone committed to untangling the meaning of life as actually lived. It offers the student of contemporary North American spirituality and culture a rare opportunity not only to follow an experiencing subject but to glimpse the humanity behind a well-known theorist's analysis of ritual. It will attract those who study religion—especially anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists—as well as students of gender studies, men's studies, education, and literature.
Table of Contents
Beginning -- Initiating -- Cowboy Christianity -- Good Guys and the Wiles of Perfection -- Guardian of the Thresholds -- Zen Clown -- Marrying -- Marrying by the Book -- Blood Wedding -- A Wedding that Weds -- Burying -- Bird Droppings on the Buddha -- A Funeral Undone -- Words for A Bundling Rite -- Oh, Give Me A Home -- Birthing -- Firstborn -- Birth by Belly -- Birth by Hand -- Cord-Cutting -- Practicing -- The Poetics of Monotony -- Ritual Practice -- The Politics of Practice -- Ending