Theater & Rituals

Acting is not pretending. We act our age. We act like a manager – or a waiter – or a diva. We actively choose how we behave in our lives.

Services – High Octane Bonding

There is, perhaps, no greater experience of the arts than in religious services. Religious celebrants often lead the community through carefully crafted processions, adorn themselves in specialized robes, utilize ornate or precious artifacts, fill the air with incense, engage in songs and inspirational music and remind the community of their beliefs by telling stories and reading from sacred books.

These practices get into members’ minds, hearts and souls, creating frameworks and pathways to connect deeply with one another. Many faith groups meet regularly, embedding themselves into family routines, providing community support for daily human struggles. They celebrate, not just articles of their beliefs, but family milestones.

Rituals – expansive formal ones down to standard call and response activities – physically unite many voices into one.

Rituals – Marriages

This is the biggie – the Super Bowl of rituals. New couples ensure new generations. So, make way for the big guns. These events matter. Expectations are high. The community wants to see evidence of maturity, love and commitment to each other – and to their faith. Even the engagement process is highly ritualized, demanding evidence of readiness and worthiness. For men, this might involve showing income stability and for women, perhaps, devotion and fertility? These make sense when we remember that the future of a faith depends on successful marriages. Weddings are huge community events – like holidays in the midst of a more routine calendar of religious holidays. People plan for months, buy expensive gifts, wear their very best clothes – and they dance. Everyone feels the warmth and glow during the ceremony. Little boys and girls want to be brides and grooms someday. Best wishes abound.

Rituals – Coming of Age

Cultures from around the world celebrate a child’s coming of age. Nearly all faiths define an age when a child is capable of understanding the significance of the community’s beliefs – and is ready to commit to supporting it. Jewish bar and bat mitzvah, Amish rumspringa, Christian confirmation and the Apache Sunrise ceremony are but a few examples. This transition matters. It represents acceptance of the mantel – carrying the belief forward into their adult lives. 

The arts are everywhere. Old words and new words. Old music and new music. Traditional sequences. Symbolic gestures. Although the focus may be on the celebration, something is very different from that moment on.

Rituals: Naming Conventions

Often members of a faith community choose names for their children that reflect their culture and history. Muhammad? Rachel? This can serve as a proud and early identifier for the rest of the world to see, calling up names of their cultural heroes.

Regional Variations

Although most religions are global, there are significant regional or ethnic differences. A Christian service in Denver will differ from a Christian service in Atlanta or Madrid or South Korea. Each region or ethnicity weaves its own traditions, aesthetics and values into the celebrations. Although the service itself remains recognizable, you will definitely know where you are and will feel the culture. Group gatherings bring the differences into high definition.