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The Religious World Of Amish Culture

1753 words - 7 pages

The Religious World of Amish Culture
Many tourists are fascinated by the Amish people and their culture. People from all over the world have gone to places like Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, trying to catch the meaning and the reason behind the Amish way of life. Throughout the 19th century Amish people have encountered some difficulties in practicing their religion and living they way they desired to. Disagreements did not only generated between the Amish people and the out side world, but also within their own community, as we have seen in the most significant one which led to an internal division of the Amish population. As a result of that, today we can distinguish to different groups of Amish, the Old Order Amish which are the more conservative and the Amish Mennonite which decided to assume a more progressive way of living. This paper will first focus on the word "ritual" and its meaning in world religions, as explained in William Paden's book, Religious Worlds and will follow by discussing its structure in the Old Order Amish religion.
According to Paden, there are two ways of studying people and these are from what they say and through what they do. A big part of the Amish "world" and also one of the helmets that stimulates people's curiosity about Amish traditions is their rituals. In Chapter five of Paden's book, he focuses on the meaning of the word "ritual" which concept, he explains by creating a connection between "ritual" and "time". "Time is a construct of ritual…", "How one lives in time is equivalent to how one lives in the world" ( Paden, 93). People tend to see rituals as being superstitious and as a way of manipulating magical forces to ensure some sort of reward or maybe avert evil. Also the word ritual is often interpreted as meaning something mechanical and regimented, however these common ways of interpretation, which Paden describes as being biased, can sometimes confuse people and impede them from studying and understanding religions.
As we look at different religions, we can observe the different lengths of time dedicated to rituals. Some might last days and involve total community participation, but others might only last a few seconds and be done privately by a single individual. Some of the most known rituals that are part of specific world religions include things like, gesturing the sign the cross, saying grace before a meal, but also big events like the Muslim month of fasting or the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca. However every religion has their own rituals and even if some might appear to be identical, they most likely will have a different meaning attacked to them. An example would be communion; even though the ritual might look the same in both the Protestant and Catholic Church, the meaning and belief behind it is completely different. The Protestants believe that the use of bread and wine are just a symbolic representation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but Catholics believe that...

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