Spirituality, Rituals, and Initiation
Religion helps humans deal with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Sigmund Freud argued that religion gives humans assurance in the face of insecurity. Because humans cannot master the universal privations of mortality, they need a means of assurance. Nigel Barber reasons that greater existential security increases religious disbelief. He studied the religious beliefs and disbelief in God in countries with higher levels of economic development, less income inequality, and more redistribution.
Rituals are prescribed, repeated acts of religious practice, often with a symbolic meaning. They are an integral part of life. Animals, plants, and humans all engage in rituals. Some are simple, such as greeting rituals. Others are complex, serving as public expressions of religious faith.
God or gods
The Bible and other religious texts often depict God as an individual with attributes of goodness, justice, and love. It is also portrayed as a parent who cares for humans and other living things. In the Old Testament, God delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, led them across the desert, and preserved them in the Promised Land. The law of the Mosaic covenant shows how God cares for people: it demands justice, charity, and forgiveness. It also forbids the worship of foreign gods.
Marriage and funeral services
Marriage and funeral services mark different phases of human life and may be influenced by religious or cultural traditions. For example, Christian weddings and funerals have many elements in common, but they are not exclusively Christian. Jewish and Roman practices were influential in shaping Christian funeral services and wedding practices.
Meditation or initiation
A person’s spiritual evolution is facilitated through initiation, which is the process of acquiring knowledge and realization. During this process, the person attains new spiritual abilities and profound insights, and moves closer to the Divine. These inner changes are evident in the person’s every aspect, from the mind to the body.
Sacrifice or service
The origin of sacrifice is uncertain, but scholars have a few theories. One theory proposes that sacrifice originated in the pursuit of communion with god, which would explain why humans often perform sacrifices in religious rituals. Another theory proposes that sacrifices are intended to protect the god from decay, while the other theory proposes that sacrifices are a gift to the god.
Religious communalism was born in the thirteenth century during the decline of Roman Catholic monasticism. This decline caused a reduction of social services such as hospitals. Sisterhoods – the modern equivalent of social workers – served as the basis of these services. However, the Counter-Reformation led to a new kind of monasticism dominated by Jesuits and militant regular clerics.