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Secular Meaningful Rites of Passage?

 
KathleenBrugger
 
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KathleenBrugger
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28 February 2015 17:20
 
Hannah2 - 28 February 2015 12:52 PM

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.

I like this concept of “Independence Day.” It was certainly a major transition point in my life, and it’s applicable whether or not you go to college.

I’ll chime in with the community service thing also. I think it would be great for teens to be required to do it, and also adults. I got a jury summons last December and was disappointed when I was excused—didn’t even have to go to the courthouse. But thinking about it beforehand made me realize what a fan I am of the idea of universal community service, for all ages. This could be the key to what’s wrong with our political system; most people are extremely disengaged with government. The only involvement is negative—standing in line at the DMV, pulled over by a cop for speeding, paying taxes, etc.

Here’s a female rite of passage: I was talking to my sister earlier today and her daughter shaved her legs for the first time last night. Couldn’t bear the peer pressure in the gym class locker room another day.

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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01 March 2015 01:20
 

Apropos of nothing, I couldn’t figure out why I had Dammit by Blink-182 stuck in my head all day (randomly in a check-out line humming “And maybe… I’ll seeeee you… at a movie… sneak preeeeview”, ha ha), until I remembered this thread.

Hannah2 - 28 February 2015 12:52 PM

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.


I agree with this. I remember packing up my grad school apartment and feeling a profound sadness, and then an elated ebullience when I had relocated myself to Redmond and assembled all my Ikea furniture by myself. I had no one to celebrate the moment with so I grabbed the Microsoft engineer who lived below me and dragged him to my place, like he super much wanted to see my taste in refrigerator magnets. That stands out as a big transition in my life, but the ones we tend to photograph and fuss over - prom, 18th birthday, graduation day - often seem kind of arbitrary.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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01 March 2015 13:37
 
gsmonks - 01 March 2015 04:57 AM

“Independence Day” sounds United Statsian. Sorry- I can’t relate.

All holidays and state occasions became arbitrary when we stopped allowing ourselves to become indoctrinated. They seemed to mean more when Western Society was far less secular.

I live in a small community that comes together as needed. We’ll put on something like a big Fall Supper at the Community Hall in order to raise money for something. Events like this bind our community together, and the ad hoc nature of our coming together is every bit as useful and satisfying as any statutory holiday.

The thing is, you’re conflating tradition with its underlying purpose, the same way that people conflate things religious with everyday observations that in truth have zero religious content.

For example, you can’t help but be moved by a beautiful sunset. But all too many people conflate that feeling with “religious awe”, or other such nonsense. The same goes for tradition, holidays, seasonal activities, and “rites of passage”. The feeling of “timelessness” or “age-old” or “continuity” is an illusion. It doesn’t exist.

I remember my high-school literature teacher, a Scotsman, telling us about an experience he had, sitting in some famous person’s chair in a museum. He told us that he could feel himself being “in the presence of greatness”, to use his exact words. I just about gagged, because the feeling was all in his head. But this was back in 1970 or so; he was around 60 at the time, so his mind-set belonged to a person born around 1910. People of his generation unquestioningly bought into such nonsense.

That’s similar to what we’re talking about here.

Do you buy your wife flowers on her birthday?

 
hannahtoo
 
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01 March 2015 19:21
 

I am sorry to ask a question that brought up a such a sad memory.

I guess my point is that I like certain modern cultural traditions, though they may seem hokey.  I don’t get all bent out of shape if they’re not adhered to.  But I smile when I get spoiled a little on Mother’s Day. 

On the other hand, I’m wide open to change.  My grown sons always kid me that our family holiday tradition is starting a new tradition…then dropping it.

 
LoriBell
 
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05 August 2015 13:51
 

I used to say: “In the absence of lions and tigers and bears, what else can men do to prove their manhood?” My observation was that they would do so in part by trying to drink themselves to death at a frat party!

From my current point of view, I think there could be some neurological basis for certain rites of passage, that mirror human developmental milestones. In his book, “The Biology of Belief,” Bruce Lipton discusses the shifts in persistent brain-wave patterns across early infancy and childhood; i.e. it is not until 6-8 years of age that a child stops being in what is to varying degrees a “hypnogogic state”. (Pages 131-135 of the Kindle version.) Onset of puberty for both men and women seems to naturally imply a new and distinct capability; i.e. to reproduce, that should be considered with some seriousness, as it implies a new level of responsibility not only for oneself, but (potentially) for other human beings.

In addition, there is a generally accepted understanding that development of the pre-frontal cortex takes place between early infancy and about 25 years of age, and, ideally, people are learning self-discipline, emotional self-regulation, rational thinking, etc., within that timeframe. Otherwise, that part of their brain will NOT develop fully. In this case, “rites of passage” would be appropriate that make those kinds of demands on the brain - prior to that late twenties cut-off.

There are other models in our culture for progressive initiations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, martial arts, and the military. In addition, rites of passage are still practiced in Native American cultures and in monasteries.

I think a more universal or secular approach would have to focus on the values we want human beings to embrace; values that should, I think, challenge the participants’ perspectives of themselves as individuals, but also as members of a larger society and their responsibilities to both. As with the examples above, I would have a hard time seeing any rite of passage as completely “indoctrination free” in that, a rite of passage is inherently about consciously embracing cultural values or expectations. It is a passage from inclusion in one group with a certain set of norms and values into another, with a different set of norms and values; e.g. the difference between what we expect of a child and what we expect of an adult. Although some of us go through various rites of passage on our own, I think we would all do better if we received more of a sense of love and belonging and celebration within a community as part of that process.

 
LoriBell
 
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05 August 2015 13:58
 

As a side note, in “The Third Chimpanzee”, author Jared Diamond has some interesting commentary on the human behaviors such as drinking to excess, that may be some kind of “display of genetic health” by showing how one can do that and still survive. Unfortunately, the genetic ability to drink to excess and survive does not necessarily indicate one’s overall “health” or ability to function well in a relationship or in society.

 
bigredfutbol
 
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05 August 2015 14:08
 
LoriBell - 05 August 2015 11:51 AM

I used to say: “In the absence of lions and tigers and bears, what else can men do to prove their manhood?” My observation was that they would do so in part by trying to drink themselves to death at a frat party!

Ha! A little more truth to that than many would care to acknowledge, I’d say.

I’d say we need to put some real effort into re-defining “manhood.” Doing so in a way which honors certain traditional masculine traits, while dispensing with both outdated machismo and current ‘bro-culture’ lack of responsibility. Young men are receiving a disheartening message that they should resist growing up—they’re learning to be “guys” not “men”. There’s a way to address that without reverting to older, rigid, patriarchal gender roles I would hope.

 
 
LoriBell
 
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05 August 2015 14:49
 
bigredfutbol - 05 August 2015 12:08 PM
LoriBell - 05 August 2015 11:51 AM

I used to say: “In the absence of lions and tigers and bears, what else can men do to prove their manhood?” My observation was that they would do so in part by trying to drink themselves to death at a frat party!

Ha! A little more truth to that than many would care to acknowledge, I’d say.

I’d say we need to put some real effort into re-defining “manhood.” Doing so in a way which honors certain traditional masculine traits, while dispensing with both outdated machismo and current ‘bro-culture’ lack of responsibility. Young men are receiving a disheartening message that they should resist growing up—they’re learning to be “guys” not “men”. There’s a way to address that without reverting to older, rigid, patriarchal gender roles I would hope.

By any chance have you seen Craig Ferguson’s bit on “Why Everything Sucks!” Search for it on YouTube. He makes some very astute observations about the “diefication of youth”.

 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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05 August 2015 16:20
 
LoriBell - 05 August 2015 12:49 PM
bigredfutbol - 05 August 2015 12:08 PM
LoriBell - 05 August 2015 11:51 AM

I used to say: “In the absence of lions and tigers and bears, what else can men do to prove their manhood?” My observation was that they would do so in part by trying to drink themselves to death at a frat party!

Ha! A little more truth to that than many would care to acknowledge, I’d say.

I’d say we need to put some real effort into re-defining “manhood.” Doing so in a way which honors certain traditional masculine traits, while dispensing with both outdated machismo and current ‘bro-culture’ lack of responsibility. Young men are receiving a disheartening message that they should resist growing up—they’re learning to be “guys” not “men”. There’s a way to address that without reverting to older, rigid, patriarchal gender roles I would hope.

By any chance have you seen Craig Ferguson’s bit on “Why Everything Sucks!” Search for it on YouTube. He makes some very astute observations about the “diefication of youth”.

I will look for that!

 
 
Gregoryhhh
 
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Gregoryhhh
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05 August 2015 17:26
 
bigredfutbol - 05 August 2015 12:08 PM
LoriBell - 05 August 2015 11:51 AM

I used to say: “In the absence of lions and tigers and bears, what else can men do to prove their manhood?” My observation was that they would do so in part by trying to drink themselves to death at a frat party!

Ha! A little more truth to that than many would care to acknowledge, I’d say.

I’d say we need to put some real effort into re-defining “manhood.” Doing so in a way which honors certain traditional masculine traits, while dispensing with both outdated machismo and current ‘bro-culture’ lack of responsibility. Young men are receiving a disheartening message that they should resist growing up—they’re learning to be “guys” not “men”. There’s a way to address that without reverting to older, rigid, patriarchal gender roles I would hope.


As my dad and i passed the bathrooms at the campground in 1965 (i was 13) he said do you know why there is such a long line there? (there were like 12 or 14 girls and women, waiting in line ) and as there was no line for the boys bathroom, i said no -  he said - “that’s because women are full of shit”
gregory

Post Scriptum: Do Not group me with my dad - i dont even capitalize “dad”

 
 
LoriBell
 
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07 August 2015 13:38
 
Gregoryhhh - 05 August 2015 03:26 PM
bigredfutbol - 05 August 2015 12:08 PM
LoriBell - 05 August 2015 11:51 AM

I used to say: “In the absence of lions and tigers and bears, what else can men do to prove their manhood?” My observation was that they would do so in part by trying to drink themselves to death at a frat party!

Ha! A little more truth to that than many would care to acknowledge, I’d say.

I’d say we need to put some real effort into re-defining “manhood.” Doing so in a way which honors certain traditional masculine traits, while dispensing with both outdated machismo and current ‘bro-culture’ lack of responsibility. Young men are receiving a disheartening message that they should resist growing up—they’re learning to be “guys” not “men”. There’s a way to address that without reverting to older, rigid, patriarchal gender roles I would hope.


As my dad and i passed the bathrooms at the campground in 1965 (i was 13) he said do you know why there is such a long line there? (there were like 12 or 14 girls and women, waiting in line ) and as there was no line for the boys bathroom, i said no -  he said - “that’s because women are full of shit”
gregory

Post Scriptum: Do Not group me with my dad - i dont even capitalize “dad”

Gregory,

Did you by chance watch the Craig Ferguson video I referred to, “Why Everything Sucks!”?

And if you do not want to be “[grouped] with [your] dad”, how would you like to be [grouped]? What do you think are masculine or merely human traits that should be aspired to for men (and/or women, for that matter)? Do you think we should have a culture wherein individuals hold one another accountable for how they express themselves as human beings, how they achieve or fail to achieve standards or expectations of behavior?

I once wrote: “Women should not be judged by how they look, but rather by how they love. Men should not be judged by what they possess, but by the degree to which they are self-possessed.”

It seems to me, Sam Harris’ work and “Project Reason” is at least in part about establishing “moral codes” (reasonable, scientifically based) expectations of human behavior.  This thread is about creating “rites of passage” that acknowledge (possibly progressively) one’s having achieved certain expectations, and therefore being granted “passage” from one social group to another, I would suggest, from one social group that requires one level of personal responsibility and accountability, to another that requires a higher degree of personal responsibility and accountability. But all of that starts with setting some standards in the first place.

So what do you think some of those standards should be for men and/or for women?

I welcome your feedback.

 
Gregoryhhh
 
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Gregoryhhh
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08 August 2015 16:56
 
LoriBell - 07 August 2015 11:38 AM

Gregory,

Did you by chance watch the Craig Ferguson video I referred to, “Why Everything Sucks!”?

And if you do not want to be “[grouped] with [your] dad”, how would you like to be [grouped]? What do you think are masculine or merely human traits that should be aspired to for men (and/or women, for that matter)? Do you think we should have a culture wherein individuals hold one another accountable for how they express themselves as human beings, how they achieve or fail to achieve standards or expectations of behavior?

I once wrote: “Women should not be judged by how they look, but rather by how they love. Men should not be judged by what they possess, but by the degree to which they are self-possessed.”

It seems to me, Sam Harris’ work and “Project Reason” is at least in part about establishing “moral codes” (reasonable, scientifically based) expectations of human behavior.  This thread is about creating “rites of passage” that acknowledge (possibly progressively) one’s having achieved certain expectations, and therefore being granted “passage” from one social group to another, I would suggest, from one social group that requires one level of personal responsibility and accountability, to another that requires a higher degree of personal responsibility and accountability. But all of that starts with setting some standards in the first place.

So what do you think some of those standards should be for men and/or for women?

I welcome your feedback.

Gawd! i luv craig fergusen. No i didnt see the video till just now
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROJKEwYEx8Q  ( -“Why Everything Sucks”  a short funny 3:18 monologue he did back when)

Gawd! i luv craig fergusen - i watched him nightly, when i had a tv, he has left my on the floor hurting from laughing a time or three.

Um, the dad comment was me saying i’m not misogynistic.

Labels are much less fitting nowadays than they used to be 400 years ago (your majesty, your grace, your lordship, your face and my ass), Anyway, someone mentioned a book “Galileo’s middle finger,”  and i got it for my interest in astronomy and string theory, but it turned out to be a different book and a defining one in the annals of intersex ( i was thinking about spelling annals anals) in the annals of intersex, and hermaphrodite, transgender, and transsexual,  not labels, just words to be defined -  for clarity, and for engagement. I am here with enough trouble and adventure as i can handle, i’m not spending time judging much of anything. I often say why is a four letter word when it’s about I.

In regards to rites of passage i lean towards believing the children are at better at making the world better than we, and some of the we have been masters. Tell me John Lennon wasn’t a master.

In regards to So what do you think some of those standards should be for men and/or for women? that’s a great question - first though, let’s list the standards, the standards not having to do with gender, or sexuality, or whatever. First things first - Um, like everybody gets to have a toilet.

India has about half their population publicly defecating - 625 million Indians dont have a toilet; not only not in their home, but not down the block either. Yes i believe in teaching the hungry guy to fish, but oft times the guy is just hungry -can you lean over and pluck me of them there fish out of the fry pan in the fire there?

As the world comes closer and closer together, as SH said, “you cant uninvent technology” - just try to take away the phone of a teenager - you cant take away the phones of the teenagers, and i’m not talking American teenagers, it’s China and India and Iran and Iraq. How you going to keep them down on the farm when?-  Um, there is no more “farm” anymore, we are all in the city, and not only connected with our phones, but connected in that bird chasing thing when we were two.

The world is changing and though i luv the Ferguson piece, it’s the youth that are saving the world. - hey, i remember when tv was bragging “this is live!” (early/mid 60’s?) we are becoming more one but it’s the children who carry it forward and make it so. As has been said - All two year olds of every color, creed, culture, or country, all two year olds, chase birds on the seashore - we are all the same .
gregory

[ Edited: 08 August 2015 16:59 by Gregoryhhh]
 
 
LoriBell
 
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21 September 2015 11:28
 

Sorry, Gregory. I guess I need to be more precise. When I used the term “standards” I meant “standards of BEHAVIOR” for men and women, not Living Standards.

I would offer, though, that having different Standards of Behavior might ultimately lead to a shift in standards of living, for better or worse, depending on what the Standards of Behavior actually turn ot to be.

As for your comment about youth leading the way: I think there will always be stand-out individuals within any generation, just as there are stand-out individuals in a normal distribution curve. There’s also a big chunk of fairly average people who hang out in the middle of that curve, and some real jerks at the opposite end.

To be honest, I don’t know that I’m well-educated enough on youth culture today to be able to make any kind of evidence-based case for or against them. All I do know is ever since the cultural revolutions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, there’s been a pretty pervasive attitude of “anything goes” - what I have defined elsewhere* as the preponderance of an “Individual Biological Moral Code” where the mottos are “If it feels good, do it!” and “Survival of the fittest!”.

What I have begun to promote is the idea of a “Social Moral Code,” that still protects individual INTELLECTUAL freedoms, but at least encourages people to consider more the impact their personal (individual biological) choices have on the people closest to them and the rest of society.

From my current point of view, to the degree that we really are “connected” it is as part of what I am calling “The Body Social”. At some point in the future, I hope to pursue a much more precise description of how a society is similar to a human body, and how each human being plays their part - like the cells and other organelles in an actual physical body.

Such a description could then lead to a reframed perspective on Standards of Behavior for individuals.

*You Get What You Play For!

[ Edited: 21 September 2015 11:39 by LoriBell]
 
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