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Secular Meaningful Rites of Passage?

 
Pattertwig
 
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Pattertwig
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27 February 2015 08:28
 

Successful communities empower their young with meaningful rites of passage. According to Wiki,

The concept of rites of passage as a general theory of socialization was first formally articulated by Arnold van Gennep in his book The Rites of Passage to denote rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group.[1] Van Gennep’s work exercised a deep impact on anthropological thought.[2] Milestones include transitions from puberty, junior, middle and high school, coming of age, marriage, family and death.

Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, akika, upanayana, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions. Rites of passage show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

In secular American culture (and in most American religious culture as well), the closest thing to a universal positive rite of passage from youth to adulthood is learning how to drive, or school graduation.  Arguably Nonpositive rites include first exposure to alcohol, losing one’s virginity.  Nonuniversal rites would include military service, or the LDS mission.

Some feel that a rigorous (but not too rigorous, as such can be damaging e.g. frat hazing!) rite of passage.

I was curious if any secularists had contemplated a universal rite of passage, such as a few months of public service, or something like that.  Something to bind youth together and to the community, setting aside ideological, religious and racial divides.

If not, discussion of such might be an interesting project.

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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27 February 2015 08:31
 

I’d say - education, education, education.

 
 
Pattertwig
 
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27 February 2015 09:12
 
Twissell - 27 February 2015 07:31 AM

I’d say - education, education, education.

An excellent thing in and of itself, but treat education as a “rite of passage,” it tends to segregate social banding not only in terms of intelligence, but also by social caste and by race, exacerbating existing divisions.  Returning the University to its earlier pre-20th century function as less than an place of education than a place where the wealthy and privileged form connections that will benefit them for life.  Education should not be a rite; it should be actual education.

Call me a dreamer but I’d like to see a stronger connection between all Americans, not founded in rites of patriotism or religion, but in a sense of a common experience.

 
 
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27 February 2015 11:12
 
gsmonks - 27 February 2015 08:55 AM

Rites of passage are a matter of brainwashing. We try not to do that to ourselves in modern society.

On reflection, i suppose you are right to associate the two.

your second assertion is a noble sentiment, but we do indeed subject ourselves and our children to some degree of routine brainwashing. Potty training. hard to imagine society without that particular rite of passage from toddler to.child.

The previous milestone, learning to walk, includes lots of coaching, but prpbably occur without it, since we are naturally bipeds. But potty training does not happen on its own. It’s forcibly instilled without ultimate respect for the toddler’s choice. Playing.with, eating, or.flinging one’s feces is frowned on by most communities among.the human species, and iirc this is not so with any other primate species.

Freud and others have explored how excessively harsh potty training may traumatize and cripple young minds, and yet no one calls for it to be abolished outright.

Might.there.be other tendencies within adolescent to young adult homo sapiens that might similarly require imposition in order to avoid? Or virtues we find necessary to instill?

If humans ever live whole lives on generation ships in space, certain prcedures and safeguards may become even more vital than our avoidance of the behaviors with excrement thqt typify the primate.groups.

 
 
Thoughtage
 
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27 February 2015 11:33
 
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 07:28 AM

I was curious if any secularists had contemplated a universal rite of passage, such as a few months of public service, or something like that.  Something to bind youth together and to the community, setting aside ideological, religious and racial divides.

Let’s set aside generational divides as well.  Instead of a rite of passage which applies only to the young, how about a public service requirement which applies to all adults throughout our lives? 

Taxes serve this purpose in a way, but such an abstraction doesn’t appear to create the social bonding it seems you are aiming at.

Finally, we might ask whether people really want to set aside ideological, religious and racial divides.  As you can see as close as this forum, such divides are a very popular method of ego inflation.

Except for me of course, because I am bigger and better than everyone else.  grin

 
Pattertwig
 
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27 February 2015 15:01
 
Thoughtage - 27 February 2015 10:33 AM
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 07:28 AM

I was curious if any secularists had contemplated a universal rite of passage, such as a few months of public service, or something like that.  Something to bind youth together and to the community, setting aside ideological, religious and racial divides.

Let’s set aside generational divides as well.  Instead of a rite of passage which applies only to the young, how about a public service requirement which applies to all adults throughout our lives?

That’s a cool idea.

Hey, we just reinvented Jury Duty. smile  If only it happened more often, and if only the rich weren’t able to skip out of it.  I’ve got a summons for Monday, and I’m going to NOT try to get out of it.

 
 
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27 February 2015 15:31
 
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 02:01 PM

Hey, we just reinvented Jury Duty. smile  If only it happened more often, and if only the rich weren’t able to skip out of it.

Ha, ha!  Good point, didn’t think of that one.  Yes, that’s a good example.

Another example might be driving school.  Every so often all drivers could be required to attend driving school.  The laws are reviewed, along with video of accident scenes, impact statements from victims, impact statements from those arrested and convicted etc.  This is something needed and constructive which pretty much everybody could share in.

 
Gregoryhhh
 
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Gregoryhhh
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27 February 2015 18:21
 
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 07:28 AM

Successful communities empower their young with meaningful rites of passage. According to Wiki,

The concept of rites of passage as a general theory of socialization was first formally articulated by Arnold van Gennep in his book The Rites of Passage to denote rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group.[1] Van Gennep’s work exercised a deep impact on anthropological thought.[2] Milestones include transitions from puberty, junior, middle and high school, coming of age, marriage, family and death.

Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, akika, upanayana, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions. Rites of passage show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

In secular American culture (and in most American religious culture as well), the closest thing to a universal positive rite of passage from youth to adulthood is learning how to drive, or school graduation.  Arguably Nonpositive rites include first exposure to alcohol, losing one’s virginity.  Nonuniversal rites would include military service, or the LDS mission.

Some feel that a rigorous (but not too rigorous, as such can be damaging e.g. frat hazing!) rite of passage.

I was curious if any secularists had contemplated a universal rite of passage, such as a few months of public service, or something like that.  Something to bind youth together and to the community, setting aside ideological, religious and racial divides.

If not, discussion of such might be an interesting project.

It’s probably just me, but i usually dismiss anything after “Wiki says” - yes, i have been chastised for it here and there, but it is just not allowed where i came from (college). I came to agree that it was not accurate enough, and only used it when i was lazy. I am not calling you lazy - that’s what i would call myself if i ever used Wiki as a source for evidence or really anything other than the end of the article to see what they used as source material. Be that as it may, it seems to me that the religions would be quite vocally against any non religious rite of passage, and some willing to kill you for just thinking of it. Hey, i like it. I was Catholic, and Confirmation was nothing to me.

I would like to see some sort of a Universal Rite of Passage - At what age? For how long? Doing what? Is 18 too late? Maybe 18 is a great age. A celebration into Adulthood. Everybody gets a year off after high school and money to live for a year, somewhere out of town with options to engage their “doing”.
gregory

 
 
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27 February 2015 18:29
 
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 10:12 AM

But potty training does not happen on its own. It’s forcibly instilled without ultimate respect for the toddler’s choice. .

That my friend is not the way it happened for my kids (30 years ago), and it’s not happening more and more nowadays.
gregory

Post Scriptum: Besides which, potty training is only a rite of passage for the parent, not the child. We may want a rite of passage to be one where there is a conscious understanding and have it be a rare, primal event.

 
 
sojourner
 
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27 February 2015 20:07
 
Thoughtage - 27 February 2015 10:33 AM

Finally, we might ask whether people really want to set aside ideological, religious and racial divides.  As you can see as close as this forum, such divides are a very popular method of ego inflation.


So help me, I will start singing True Colors over and over again until you learn to appreciate my views on diversity of opinion. Seriously, though, I don’t see expressing one’s unique opinion as ego inflation in and of itself. Recently read about mortifications in The Perennial Philosophy, and it occurred to me that what we really mean by ego inflation is simply getting one’s own way. Sometimes that looks hedonistic, sometimes it looks very ‘holy’ - people who become spiritual leaders so that they can claim they are Inherently Right in some absolute sense. But either way - it boils down to things going the way the ego wants them to go. Much of ‘spirituality’ is simply learning to be unhappy in the ‘right’ way, and trusting that there is something behind this experience that is bigger and better than unhappiness - attention freed up to go to a larger space, if you will.


As to secular rights of passage - I think it depends a lot on your culture and life circumstance. But I don’t think many of those symbolic passages - everyone from a particular high school proves their bravery by jumping off a small local bridge in senior year, or whatever - actually do or change much. I think there are rights of passage that do significantly change just about anyone who has gone through them though - having a first job, living alone and paying your own bills, getting married, going to fight in a war, having a child, being seriously ill, or losing a parent or very close friend or family member, for example. I think just about everyone I’ve known who have gone through one or a few of those have seemed at least somewhat changed, personality-wise, by them.

 
 
Gregoryhhh
 
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27 February 2015 20:51
 
NicLynn - 27 February 2015 07:07 PM
Thoughtage - 27 February 2015 10:33 AM

Finally, we might ask whether people really want to set aside ideological, religious and racial divides.  As you can see as close as this forum, such divides are a very popular method of ego inflation.


So help me, I will start singing True Colors over and over again until you learn to appreciate my views on diversity of opinion. Seriously, though, I don’t see expressing one’s unique opinion as ego inflation in and of itself. Recently read about mortifications in The Perennial Philosophy, and it occurred to me that what we really mean by ego inflation is simply getting one’s own way. Sometimes that looks hedonistic, sometimes it looks very ‘holy’ - people who become spiritual leaders so that they can claim they are Inherently Right in some absolute sense. But either way - it boils down to things going the way the ego wants them to go. Much of ‘spirituality’ is simply learning to be unhappy in the ‘right’ way, and trusting that there is something behind this experience that is bigger and better than unhappiness - attention freed up to go to a larger space, if you will.


As to secular rights of passage - I think it depends a lot on your culture and life circumstance. But I don’t think many of those symbolic passages - everyone from a particular high school proves their bravery by jumping off a small local bridge in senior year, or whatever - actually do or change much. I think there are rights of passage that do significantly change just about anyone who has gone through them though - having a first job, living alone and paying your own bills, getting married, going to fight in a war, having a child, being seriously ill, or losing a parent or very close friend or family member, for example. I think just about everyone I’ve known who have gone through one or a few of those have seemed at least somewhat changed, personality-wise, by them.

Well said NicLynn, i liked it so much i wanted to understand your first sentence, so i googled true colors lyrics, and then youtubed it; Ha Ha - Anyway you reminded me ego is a word ill defined, and as ill conceived as it indeed was, it should have been aborted. I just dont use it - it will fade away.

Sounds more like we could lean towards celebrations rather than “rites of passage,” and a check in the mail from the government to celebrate - maybe when you turn 16 with a rental car and $500. idunno.
gregory

Post Scriptum: i would have loved the rental car and $500 thing at turning 16 when i was 16 (The summer of love- i had a 66 mustang).

[ Edited: 27 February 2015 21:01 by Gregoryhhh]
 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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27 February 2015 22:11
 

In this crazy diverse American culture, it’s probably impossible to invent a universal rite of passage.  Those sorts of things need to evolve naturally out of the culture.  It would be like trying to invent a new winter holiday, as Seinfeld parodied with Festivus.  The African American community has tried to popularize Kwanzaa.  Not sure if that will make it in the long run.

I think it would be nice if there was a rite of passage marking when a teenager was expected to take on the role of a responsible citizen.  More often than not, high school graduation is a mark of transition to the college party scene.  But probably a change in tradition would need to be at the local level, not national.  The school where I work actually has a really heartfelt graduation ceremony, involving the parents as well as their teens.  So the ceremony can be made meaningful, depending on the school culture.

 
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27 February 2015 23:46
 
Hannah2 - 27 February 2015 09:11 PM

In this crazy diverse American culture, it’s probably impossible to invent a universal rite of passage.  Those sorts of things need to evolve naturally out of the culture.  It would be like trying to invent a new winter holiday, as Seinfeld parodied with Festivus.  The African American community has tried to popularize Kwanzaa.  Not sure if that will make it in the long run.

I think it would be nice if there was a rite of passage marking when a teenager was expected to take on the role of a responsible citizen.  More often than not, high school graduation is a mark of transition to the college party scene.  But probably a change in tradition would need to be at the local level, not national.  The school where I work actually has a really heartfelt graduation ceremony, involving the parents as well as their teens.  So the ceremony can be made meaningful, depending on the school culture.

What’s so horrible about a hooker, a rental car, and $500 when you turn 16?  smile
gregory

Post Scriptum: or something

 
 
sojourner
 
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28 February 2015 02:59
 
Gregoryhhh - 27 February 2015 07:51 PM

Well said NicLynn, i liked it so much i wanted to understand your first sentence, so i googled true colors lyrics, and then youtubed it; Ha Ha - Anyway you reminded me ego is a word ill defined, and as ill conceived as it indeed was, it should have been aborted. I just dont use it - it will fade away.


Ha, sorry, I assumed True Colors was one of those pop songs that everyone knows. As to the word ‘ego’ - yeah, it is quite ill-defined, although popular in yogi and spiritual-type circles. I find it’s one of those things that everyone is happy to lecture you about (“That’s just your ego talking, if you would just transcend your ego...”) but few people want to put in a time-out themselves (“Hmm… my ego totally hates this situation, but maybe that’s good, maybe it’s like a mortification leading me to spiritual growth or something”) so I try to trend towards the latter a teeny bit more when I can. I think it’s hard in our culture because we’re some of the most privileged people in the world - our egos get more of “what they like” than many billions of other people’s, at least in terms of material comfort. (After reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, it occurred to me how bizarre my daily routines would look to much of the world’s population. Every day I not only eat a prepared meal on the go, but I literally throw away all the serving apparatus - cup, plate, silverware, etc. - that came with it. Even simple things start to look grotesquely extravagant. I think it’s no shocker that in the West we are creating whole industries out of quieting our own egos for the sake of our mental health while other parts of the world have just the opposite problem.)

 
 
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28 February 2015 04:06
 
Gregoryhhh - 27 February 2015 05:21 PM
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 07:28 AM

Successful communities empower their young with meaningful rites of passage. According to Wiki,

The concept of rites of passage as a general theory of socialization was first formally articulated by Arnold van Gennep in his book The Rites of Passage to denote rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group.[1] Van Gennep’s work exercised a deep impact on anthropological thought.[2] Milestones include transitions from puberty, junior, middle and high school, coming of age, marriage, family and death.

Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, akika, upanayana, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions. Rites of passage show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

In secular American culture (and in most American religious culture as well), the closest thing to a universal positive rite of passage from youth to adulthood is learning how to drive, or school graduation.  Arguably Nonpositive rites include first exposure to alcohol, losing one’s virginity.  Nonuniversal rites would include military service, or the LDS mission.

Some feel that a rigorous (but not too rigorous, as such can be damaging e.g. frat hazing!) rite of passage.

I was curious if any secularists had contemplated a universal rite of passage, such as a few months of public service, or something like that.  Something to bind youth together and to the community, setting aside ideological, religious and racial divides.

If not, discussion of such might be an interesting project.

It’s probably just me, but i usually dismiss anything after “Wiki says” - yes, i have been chastised for it here and there, but it is just not allowed where i came from (college). I came to agree that it was not accurate enough, and only used it when i was lazy. I am not calling you lazy - that’s what i would call myself if i ever used Wiki as a source for evidence or really anything other than the end of the article to see what they used as source material. Be that as it may, it seems to me that the religions would be quite vocally against any non religious rite of passage, and some willing to kill you for just thinking of it. Hey, i like it. I was Catholic, and Confirmation was nothing to me.

I would like to see some sort of a Universal Rite of Passage - At what age? For how long? Doing what? Is 18 too late? Maybe 18 is a great age. A celebration into Adulthood. Everybody gets a year off after high school and money to live for a year, somewhere out of town with options to engage their “doing”.
gregory

I think 18 is the perfect age for it.  Voting age.  Age you can be swept up for Jury Duty.  Something nice and civic and social.  If we pitched it as a “civic” rite of passage rather than a “secular” or “nonreligious” or even “universal” rite of passage, most religious people would (I hope) not feel threatened, but some kooks will object to it from all quarters, religious and anti. 

I am lazy.  Wasn’t before law school, but something about studying for the bar and working a year for another attorney makes me grab for the wiki.  Oh, I know what it is.  Because in law school I got spoiled and used to having Lexis-Nexis, and now I can’t afford it, but I’m so used to having all the info at my fingertips I just reach for Wiki unless it’s a debate I really want to win. smile

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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28 February 2015 13:52
 

Pattertwig - 28 February 2015 03:06 AM
Gregoryhhh - 27 February 2015 05:21 PM
Pattertwig - 27 February 2015 07:28 AM

Successful communities empower their young with meaningful rites of passage. According to Wiki,

The concept of rites of passage as a general theory of socialization was first formally articulated by Arnold van Gennep in his book The Rites of Passage to denote rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group.[1] Van Gennep’s work exercised a deep impact on anthropological thought.[2] Milestones include transitions from puberty, junior, middle and high school, coming of age, marriage, family and death.

Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, akika, upanayana, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions. Rites of passage show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

In secular American culture (and in most American religious culture as well), the closest thing to a universal positive rite of passage from youth to adulthood is learning how to drive, or school graduation.  Arguably Nonpositive rites include first exposure to alcohol, losing one’s virginity.  Nonuniversal rites would include military service, or the LDS mission.

Some feel that a rigorous (but not too rigorous, as such can be damaging e.g. frat hazing!) rite of passage.

I was curious if any secularists had contemplated a universal rite of passage, such as a few months of public service, or something like that.  Something to bind youth together and to the community, setting aside ideological, religious and racial divides.

If not, discussion of such might be an interesting project.

Be that as it may, it seems to me that the religions would be quite vocally against any non religious rite of passage, and some willing to kill you for just thinking of it. Hey, i like it. I was Catholic, and Confirmation was nothing to me.

I would like to see some sort of a Universal Rite of Passage - At what age? For how long? Doing what? Is 18 too late? Maybe 18 is a great age. A celebration into Adulthood. Everybody gets a year off after high school and money to live for a year, somewhere out of town with options to engage their “doing”.
gregory

I think 18 is the perfect age for it.  Voting age.  Age you can be swept up for Jury Duty.  Something nice and civic and social.  If we pitched it as a “civic” rite of passage rather than a “secular” or “nonreligious” or even “universal” rite of passage, most religious people would (I hope) not feel threatened, but some kooks will object to it from all quarters, religious and anti. 

 

If a rite of passage were to catch on, the source would need to be pop culture.  It couldn’t be “pitched” for civic pride.  It would be someone’s great idea that spreads like wildfire with photos on Facebook and tweets on Twitter. 

Let’s say the ritual is “Independence Day.”  That is, the time when a young person moves into a place where she is supporting herself.  Parents and friends could throw a house-warming party, giving gifts.  There could be a time during the festivities when the parents and friends give heart-warming toasts and tributes to the young person.  It could be adapted to include religious prayers as well, for those so inclined.

I can picture the tributes being sincere or hilarious.  A friend might give a gift of a handmade quilt because the person has such a warm heart.  Another might give a vacuum cleaner because the person seemed to obviously need to learn to use one.  Perhaps even a personal flag could be fashioned to represent the person’s character.  The Facebook shot could be the newly independent person holding her flag, surrounded by supporters. 

These days, many fetes are reserved for people getting married or having children.  But with young people delaying or forgoing these more traditional milestones, an “Independence Day” would be more universal.

Apart from some sort of celebratory rite of passage, I wish that teens would be required to do community service.  Already some schools do require this, but it is far from widespread.  It could be like a “gap” quarter, during which teens joined crews to spruce up the town, care for toddlers, repair trails in parklands, work at the recycling center, or some such.

 
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