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Who will be the ambassador of the Catholic Church in the future Kerala?
Even before her death in 1996, Mother Teresa was widely known as a "living saint" in India. No one in Kerala will agitate if Bobby Jose capuchin is a depicted as the next living saint in Kerala. More than his words, more than his admonitions, more than his comforting style, he attempted to live the way of life he was called into. He is not a miracle worker and a magician but who is based on the very reality of human existence. He is a spiritual master and in Indian terms ‘Guru’. More than imaginations he valued life on earth. The people described as saints inThe Biblewere however still very much human. They were called, they were holy, and they were extremely dedicated (both in terms of attitude, and in the sense of being set apart), but they were still real people, far from perfect. Saints never stopped being normal people - fishermen, farmers, doctors, teachers, carpenters. The "little people" of the congregations were as much saints as the most famous and prominent ones such as Peter and Paul.
So, in this sense, he is a holy man very much in the line of Bible. He is just proving that the sainthood begins at the birth of a person, or the responsibility to live as a saint begins with the birth. A saint is not born when he dies and canonized by authorities. God has already scripted him into his book of the legends for the people in next centuries to ponder on the meaning of life. With his way of life he belongs to the rare Species of Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, Felix of Cantalice, Giles of Assisi, Maximillian Kolbe, Clare of Assisi, Joseph of Cupertino, etc… He is the future torch bearer of the catholic life, saintly life. He is defining with his own life the other meaning of Catholicism, the other meaning of ‘life’. His words are the true sign of the Divine presence within us.
In a time when the Kerala church approaches everything diplomatically and politically to hold on its influence among the folk, he chose to be a silent observer sculpting himself to be a question mark, by his simple way of challenging himself to live Christ Jesus. He has grown beyond rites, churches, denominations, castes, sects and religions. He is a holy person ‘vox Populi’. (Beginning with the early Christian martyrs in the first century, holy persons were chosen by popular acclaim. Legends of their lives were spread through word of mouth. Their stories evolved into some wonderfully fantastic tales, probably arising from our intellectual, moral, and spiritual need for heroes. They fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick, and defended the defenseless).
To all my friends who read these from different parts of the world speak with him and you will feel strong in inner guidance. If you sense darkness inside your heart, look at him and sense the light of God. Feel how your wounds melt in Christ. Begin a journey of love. If the 2.9% Christians in India are known to the whole world through Mother Teresa of Kolkata, in the future the Kerala Catholics will be known through Bobby Jose capuchin. He is the next Padre Pio. He lives Christ in the way of Francis of Assisi. God molded himself as the living saint.
"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder peals, crying, "Hallelujah! For The Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" - for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:6-9 RSV)
(This is written in appreciation to his spirituality and way of life. I have not attempted to criticize his philosophy and literature. More than his well-known books and ever appreciated homilies and classes, I would consider his life as basis for what is written above. What is scripted is my very personal opinion as I knew him for the last 20 years and I had an opportunity to live with him in the same community for a considerable period of time.)
His works deals with a lot of notions and ideas. As I have already explained, here i may try to bring everything together. So the main notion is his ritual process.He had developed a unique ritual approach stressing the processual nature of ritual among the Ndembu and of ritual activity in complex societies. „I have used the term "anti-structure,"...to describe both liminality and what I have called "communitas." I meant by it not a structural reversal...but the liberation of human capacities of cognition, affect, volition, creativity, etc., from the normative constraints incumbent upon occupying a sequence of social statuses“(From Ritual to Theater). He is for the transformation of the society or the betterment of the society. Society (societas) seems to be a process rather than a thing--a dialectical process with successive phases of structure and communitas. There would seem to be--if one can use such a controversial term--a human "need" to participate in both modalities. Persons starved of one in their functional day-to-day activities seek it in ritual liminality. The structurally inferior aspire to symbolic structural superiority in ritual; the structurally superior aspire to symbolic communitas and undergo penance to achieve it (based on his book ‘The ritual process’)Turner believes that individuals deprived of either structure or communitas will seek to fill their needs through rituals that provide them with either structure, in the case of those that are structurally inferior, or communitas, in the case of those that are structurally superior.
Turner’s schema provides a social revolution through ritual, which draws both from his Marxist past and his Christian present. His structure anti-structure ritual process is dialectic in nature. Theoretically provocative discussions on Turner are very rare. Victor Turner is primarily an anthropologist. His concrete data regarding ritual comes from his fieldwork with the Ndembu. Turner's theoretical approach is reliant on the work of Arnold van Gennep, who developed the idea of liminality in his own work. Turner used ideas, like communitas and liminality to organize his thoughts and to assist in understanding the ritual behavior of the tribe he studied. Turner's work is also influenced by structuralists, such as Levi-Strauss, and by sociologists of religion, such as Emile Durkheim.
Turner has often been praised for the careful detail in his accounts of ritual among the Ndembu. Turner has been widely acclaimed for his views on the processual nature of ritual, and his identification of the liminal phase in ritual was an important innovation in the anthropological study of religion and ritual. Turner has been praised for the ethnographic richness of his ritual analyses and for his theoretical innovations, but he cannot be applauded as a great systematizer. Turner's failure to treat his ideas systematically is evident from the multitude of labels with which his work has been characterized: It has been called "situational analysis" (Collins 1976), "symbolic action theory" (Holmes 1977), "the semantics of symbolism" (Gilsenan 1967), "comparative symbology" (Grimes 1976; Turner 1974b), "anti-structural social anthropology" (Blast 1985), and "processual symbolic analysis" (Arbuckle 1986; Keyes 1976; Moore 1984; Saler 1979).
Turner's most valuable contributions remain his conceptual apparatus, his distinct analytical mode of ritual analysis, and his application thereof in his Ndembu research. This last accomplishment is a major strength of his work. He was not a theorist for theory’s sake.
}Axel, Michaels (Hrsg.,1997): Klassiker der Religionswissenschaft, München: Beck.
}Ashley, Kathleen M (ed.1990): Victor Turner andtheconstructionof Cultural Criticism, Bloomingtonand Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
}Turner, Victor (1957): Schismandcontinuity in an African society ,Oxford: Berg.
}Turner, Victor (1969): The ritual process, Structure ans anti-structure, NY: Aldine publishingcompany.
}Turner, Victor (1974):Dramas, fieldsandmetaphors, Ithacaand London: Cornell university press.
Turner regarded that there is in ritual an essential element of religious belief.The religious component in ritual was essential for Turner. We see that for Turner ritual is religious, and religion involves both social experiences in ritualistic activity and a systematic corpus of beliefs "which have for their object invisible and intangible beings or powers which a human group recognizes as superior, on which it depends" (Victor Turner in ‘From ritual to theatre: The human seriousness of play’). Ritual is inspired by a religious belief in supernatural beings or powers.
Religion in Turner's work refers to both belief (religion as thought) and practice (religion as ritual action). The component of practice or action is clearly demonstrated by Turner's focus on detailed analyses of ritual performances. The component of religious belief and its significance in ritual, however, are less well developed in Turner's writings.
The religion is above any secular form of thought since by religious belief in supernatural beings and its powers; its nature is different from the worldly or better inner-worldly forms of knowledge. The references are made to the supernatural or ‘really real’ and they are independent from man made arrangements. In this way, it can be said that religion is not just like any other system of ideas and does have supreme ontological value, but only for the subjects involved in religious rituals. Religion, referring to the supernatural, is more than "theory," but only in the eye of the believer.
"Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in ‘Rites de Passage’," is his first essay discussing the processual form of ritual. He developed further his processual view on ritual. Very early in 1955, he already suggested that the temporal structure of rituals of rebellion, as described by Gluckman (1954), might shed light on the capacity of rituals to transfer a rebellious affect to the official social order. In Arnold von Gennep’s ‘Rites de Passage’, he found a basis to further develop the ritual analysis. Ritual itself is processual in form.
Arnold von Gennep argued that all rites of passage share similar features, including:
1.Period of segregation from previous way of life (preliminary phase);
2.State of transition from one status to another (liminal phase); and
3.Process of introduction to the new social status and the new way of life (postliminal phase).
Van Gennep regarded rites of passage as essentially necessary for the normal and healthy life ofsociety. He believed that rites of passage preserve social stability by releasing the pressure built up in individuals through giving them new social status and new roles.
On the background of his field study among Ndembu of Zambia, Turner presented the processual view of ritual with a distinction between life-crisis rituals and rituals of affliction. Life-crisis rituals refer to that class of rituals which mark the transition of one phase in the development of a person to another phase. Such phases are important points in the physical or social development of the ritual subject, such as birth, puberty, or death.Rituals of affliction, on the other hand, are performed for individuals who are considered to have been affected or bound by the spirits of deceased relatives whom they have forgotten or neglected.
Then he proceeded further in explaining the notion of field. To this distinction he owes to Kurt Lewin’s field theory. Turner in ‘The forest of symbols: Aspects of Ndembu ritual Ithaca’, distinguished the social from the cultural field in which rituals take place. The social field (or action-field) refers to the groups, relationships, and social-structural organizational principles of the society in which the rituals are performed.In Ndembu society, the social field is dominated by the contradiction between matrilineal descent and virilocality. In the cultural field, ritual symbols are regarded as clusters of abstract meanings. Turner distinguished four components in Ndembu religion.
1.A belief in the existence of a high god (Nzambi) who has created the world but does not interfere with worldly human activities
2.A belief in the existence of ancestor spirits or "shades" who may afflict the Ndembu
3.A belief in the intrinsic efficacy of certain animal and vegetable substances
4. A belief in the destructive power of female witches and male sorcerers.
Victor Turner altered the way ritual is viewed, by emphasizing its role as an agent of social change rather than an agent for conserving the status quo. Turner spent his career exploring rituals. He focused on how to understand the transmission of cultural symbols from generation to generation, and the changes in rituals that reflected social change. He argued that rituals are constructed of symbols. “Rituals are storehouses of meaningful symbols by which information is revealed and regarded as authoritative, as dealing with the crucial values of the community”. (Victor Turner in ‘the ritual process: Structure and anti-structure’) In his own words “a symbol is the smallest unit of ritual which still retains the specific properties of ritual behavior; it is a "storage unit" filled with a vast amount of information”.
There are three levels of meaning of symbols. He explains this in his book ‘The forest of symbols: Aspects of Ndembu ritual Ithaca’. The exegetical meaning is obtained by "questioning indigenous informants about observed ritual behavior". Exegesis can also be derived through the analysis of myths, through the fragmentary interpretations of separate rituals or ritual stages, and through written or verbally uttered doctrines and dogmas. The operational meaning comes from observing what is done with the symbol, the structure and composition of the group that handles the symbol and the affective qualities of the handling of the symbol. The operational meaning also enquires that why some people are absent at the performance of ritual.. The positional meaning of a symbol derives from its relationship to other symbols in a totality. It reveals the symbol’s hidden meanings.
Turner inferred the properties of symbols from three levels or fields of meaning: the exegetical, operational, and positional meanings of ritual symbols. The three major empirical properties of dominant symbols are (1) condensation, polysemy, or multivocality, when one single dominant symbol represents many different things and actions; (2) unification of disparate significata, where the significata (the underlying meanings of the symbol) are interconnected by virtue of their common analogous qualities, or by association in fact or thought; and (3) polarization of meaning or bipolarity, in which dominant symbols possess two distinct poles of meaning; at the ideological or normative pole.
The most important contribution Turner made to the field of anthropology is his work on liminality and communitas. The term ‘liminality’ is not found in any of the available dictionaries to me. I need to further my search some time later. But it is found that the word ‘liminality’ is derived from the Latin “limen,” which means “threshold”—that is, the bottom part of a doorway that must be crossed when entering a building. Victor Turner owes to Arnold van Genepp’s rites de passage for the notion and word ‘liminality’.
Turner noted that in "liminality," the transitional state between two phases, individuals were "betwixt and between"—they did not belong to the society that they previously were a part of, and they were not yet re-incorporated into that society.Turner first formulated his theory of liminality in the late 1960s, and it continued to be a central theme in his work until his death in 1983. Liminality is an ambiguous period characterized by humility, seclusion, tests, sexual ambiguity, and "communitas". It is the condition of being midpoint between status sequences, a no longer not yet status. Liminal individualshavenothing, in Turner’s words, “no status, insignia, secular clothing, rank, and kinship position, nothing to demarcate them structurally from their fellows”.
The "communitas" is an unstructured community where all members are equal. Turner introduces this idea as the state of hippies in Western society, and then compares occurrences of communitas in other tribal communities. Communitas is characterized by spontaneity, rather than goals and decisions. Communitas exists between periods of structure, and is revealed in liminality.
Turner conceived of communitas as an intense community spirit, the feeling of great social equality, solidarity, and togetherness. It is characteristic of people experiencing liminality together. Communitas is an acute point of community. It takes community to the next level and allows the whole of the community to share a common experience, usually through a rite of passage. This brings everyone onto an equal level—even if people are higher in positions, they were lower at one point and know what that means.
Turner distinguished three types of communitas in society: (1) existential or spontaneous communitas, which is free from all structural demands and is fully spontaneous and immediate; (2) normative communitas, which is organized into a social system; and (3) ideological communitas, which refers to utopian models of societies based on existential communitas and is also situated within the structural realm. The types of communitas are phases, not permanent conditions. If we take for example the "hippie" movement in the late 60s, following the communitas scheme, its development can be outlined as having started with the spontaneous communitas which occurs in "happenings" such as rock concerts, experiments with drug-use. With these happenings a union of followers was normatively organized, with their own places and times where communitas could be experienced on the margins of the society at large. Eventually complete ideologies were developed to promote, ideally for all members of the society, the type of ‘communitas’ the hippies experienced. In the end, however (as was the case with the hippie movement), the fate of any type of communitas is inevitably a "decline and fall into structure and law", after which a new form of communitas may rise again. (Based on the books of Victor turner, The Ritual process and Dramas, fields and metaphors: Symbolic action in human society)
Social drama is defined by Turner (1985: 196), as “an eruption from the level surface of ongoing social life, with its interactions, transactions, reciprocities, and its customs making for regular, orderly sequences of behavior.” Social drama, says Turner, is defined as aharmonic or disharmonic social process, arising in conflict situations. There exist conflicts in a society. People are divided among themselves and because of the imaginative power, or in the terms of Victor Turner, imaginative fire within the people give rise to social drama. A society is defined by Turner as a set of interactive processes that are punctuated by situations of conflict, with intervals between them.
During his fieldwork among the Ndembu (December 1950 to February 1952, and May 1953 to June 1954), Turner discovered two very much existing principles in Ndembu society: matrilineal descent and virilocality. There was a high rate of divorce among Ndembu and it caused a high rate of residential mobility. Because of this there exist no strong affiliations between the villages and also because of a strong political unity, inter-village disputes frequently take place. As a result, Ndembu society is characterized by many conflicts both within (because of long lineages) and between the villages. Turner introduced the notion of social drama as a device to look beneath the surface of social regularities into the hidden contradictions and eruptions of conflict in the Ndembu social structure. He explains that in a processual form and thus Turner’s social drama theory has four phases of public action:
1.Breach: A breach of regular norm-governed social relationships between persons or groups of a social unit.
2.Crisis: a crisis or extension of the breach, unless the conflict can be sealed off quickly.
3.Redressive action: It ranges from personal advice and informal mediation or arbitration to formal juridical and legal machinery, and to resolve certain kinds of crisis or legitimate other modes of resolution, to the performance of public ritual.
4. Reintegration: It is thereintegration of the disturbed social group or social recognition of an irreparable breach or schism.
Victor Witter Turner was born on 28, May 1920 in Glasgow, Scotland as the son of Captain Norman Turner and Violet Witter. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother an actress and also the founding member of the Scotland’s national theater. The influence of his mother can be inferred from his lifelong interest in drama and performance. At the age of 11, Turner left Scotland and went with his divorced mother to live with his maternal grandparents in Bournemouth, England. After attending Bournemouth Grammar School, he studied English language and literature at University College of London (1938-41).
At 29, he received a bachelor honors degree in anthropology. He left London for university of Manchester to do his graduate studies under Max Gluckman. Max Gluckman was the director of Rhodes Livingstone institute and in association with this institute he conducted field work among the Ndembu of Zambia. He began by examining the demographics and economics of the tribe but then shifted to ritual.
From then on his interest in rituals made him to focus on it and completed his PhD in June 1955. His dissertation was on ‘Schism and continuity in an African Society: a study of Ndembu village life’.
Turner’s American life began in 1961 at Stanford University. He returned to Manchester a year later but his interest in American academic life led him to accept an appointment at Cornell University in 1964 where he completed 3 books and conducted a field work among the Gisu of Uganda.
Turner moved to Chicago University in 1968 as the professor of anthropology and social thought. There his interests shifted from tribal to world religions, more generally, from small scale to mass societies.
His final academic position was at the University of Virginia. There he became more interested in performative play and experimental theater as a modern form of liminality.
Victor Witter Turner is a British anthropologist, better he can be called as a Scottish born American anthropologist and a comparative religionist. He studied the rituals and culture on the basis of his field work among the Ndembu of Zambia. So later, he became famous as a very influential ethnologist. He is also known for developing the concept of ‘liminality’, first introduced by Arnold van Gennep. He is remembered for coining the term ‘communitas’. His works revealed about the social change, both from the point of view of the individual experience and the development of common beliefs that characterize the social group. The metaphor of ‘social drama’ tells us further about the process of social change, better to call it a ritual process.
In this humble attempt I try to explain or discuss further some notions especially, social drama, ritual, ‘liminality’ and ‘communitas’, the ritual process, symbolism and also the relation between religion and ritual. This cannot be called as a perfect scientific attempt but I am sure that this little attempt will result in getting the basic notions and ideas in Victor Turner’s theory.
Eine weitere Natur des Menschen, die hervorgehoben werden kann, ist des Menschen Drang, wie Gott zu werden, oder um Gott herauszufordern.Neben anderen Beispielen in der Bibel gibt es zwei wichtige Beispiele dafür, wie der Mensch Gott herausfordern kann.
Die erste Herausforderung spielt im Garten Eden. So liest Genesis 2, 16-17. „Dann gebot Gott, der Herr, dem Menschen: Von allen Bäumen des Gartens darfst du essen, doch vom Baum der Erkenntnis von Gut und Böse darfst du nicht essen; denn sobald du davon isst, wirst du sterben“.
Die Implikation ist klar, dass das Essen vom Baum bringt die Erlangung wahrer Erkenntnis von Gut und Böse.Die Schlange verführte Eva wie wir in Gen lesen.3, 4-5. „Darauf sagte die Schlange zur Frau: Nein, ihr werdet nicht sterben. Gott weiß vielmehr: Sobald ihr davon esst, gehen euch die Augen auf; ihr werdet wie Gott und erkennt Gut und Böse.“
Also die erste Sünde ist der Akt des Ungehorsams und deren Ziel war, wie Gott zu werden.Er weist darauf hin, dass er nicht als Geschöpf Gottes gehorchen und auch in Abhängigkeit von Gott zu bleiben.Er will den Status von Gott erlangen.Es war ein Versuch,als Mensch gottgleichen Wesens zu werden.
Die zweite Instanz wie Menschen tritt herausfordern Jahwe auf, wenn man Turm von Babel baut.Man wollte einen Turm bis zum Himmel bauen.Es ist einen anderen menschlichen Versuch in der Bibel den Menschen in den Status von Gott zu erheben. Aber alle diese schlagen Versuche fehl, aber sie machen deutlich, dass die Bibel bewusst einen starken Widerstand in den Menschen kennt gegen eine resignierte Akzeptanz seiner Menschlichkeit erfüllt und vom Wunsch, die Gottheit Gottes herauszufordern.
Grundlage der Gerechtigkeit ist Gott. Gott ist gerecht. Gott ist seinen Idealen treu, das heisst, Vergebung, Liebe, Nächstenliebe. Diese Definition der Gerechtigkeit unterscheidet sich von der normalen, profanen Gerechtigkeit. Es heisst nicht, „wie du mir, so ich dir“. Durch diesen Unterschied in der Leseweise wird die Bibel sehr interessant. Neuer Hauptaspekt ist„Gott ist gerecht“, er handelt nach seinen Massstäben und zeigt dies auch des Menschen.
Die beiden Worte, die oft in der Bibel verwendet werden, um Gerechtigkeit zu bezeichnen sind zedek und mishpat. Das Wort mishpat wird oft in Bezug auf die Gerechtigkeit Gottes oder als Recht in Übereinstimmung mit dem Gesetz verwendet. Das Wort sedeq umschreibt die persönliche Heiligkeit oder moralische Rechtschaffenheit. The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and exegesis stellt fest, dass sedeq ein in der Gemeinde als richtig akzeptiertes Verhalten bedeutet. Es bezeichnet meist die Gerechtigkeit oder Gerechtigkeit zwischen den Menschen. In Ezechiel. 18, 5-9. Steht, ”Ist jemand gerecht, so handelt er nach Recht und Gerechtigkeit. Er hält auf den Bergen keine Opfermahlzeiten ab. Er blickt nicht zu den Götzen des Hauses Israel auf. Er schändet nicht die Frau seines Nächsten. Einer Frau tritt er nicht nahe während ihrer Blutung. Er unterdrückt niemand. Er gibt dem Schuldner das Pfand zurück. Er begeht keinen Raub. Dem Hungrigen gibt er von seinem Brot und den Nackten bekleidet er. Er leiht nicht gegen Zins und treibt keinen Wucher. Er hält seine Hand vom Unrecht fern. Zwischen Streitenden fällt er ein gerechtes Urteil. Er lebt nach meinen Gesetzen, er achtet auf meine Rechtsvorschriften und befolgt sie treu. Er ist gerecht und deshalb wird er am Leben bleiben - Spruch Gottes, des Herrn“.