Community in Religion

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, January 1996

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Religion seems to find its way into almost every aspect of our lives. In the United States, the political mainstream describes a "separation of church and state," in order to separate this profound force of religion from the public lives of its citizens. Thus, the freedom to worship any religion remains a private and personal issue. However, in this imperfect world, it becomes virtually impossible to achieve this kind of separation. Some subtle examples of this can be seen right here on campus. The intriguing yet simple New England architecture that we see all around us, is the result of the Old World Puritan religion. Also on campus, Rollins Chapel, supposedly a "universal place of worship", is structurally shaped like a cross, the symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus. Delving deep into these religious symbols, there exists a common thread uniting all religions. The aspect of community becomes the "heart and soul" of almost all religious groups around the world.

It is this upon which George Weckman focuses his article.

The author defines the characteristics of a community in a number of ways. For one, he claims that some sort of initiation or "entrance ritual" needs to occur in order to mark the acceptance of an individual into the community as a whole. In addition to these entrance rituals, the individual will, most likely, participate in other types of rituals throughout his life. This may include his eventual departure from the community, such as death. Secondly, the author emphasizes the fact that communities often possess clearly defined ritual activities that are unique to their own particular community. He goes on to say, "Gathering as a group for such rites is perhaps the most persistent aspect of religious community, and is arguably its reason for being."

Thus, the author emphasizes...