Death is a personal matter, arousing sorrow, despair, fervor, or dry-hearted philosophy. Funerals, on the other hand, are social functions. Imagine going to a funeral without first polishing the automobile. Imagine standing at a graveside not dressed in your best dark suit and your best black shoes, polished delightfully. Imagine sending flowers to a funeral with no attached card to prove you had done the correct thing. In no social institution is the codified ritual of behavior more rigid than in funerals. Imagine the indignation if the minister altered his sermon or experimented with facial expression. Consider the shock if, at the funeral parlors, any chairs were used but those little folding yellow torture chairs with the hard seats. No, dying, a man may be loved, hated, mourned, missed; but once dead he becomes the chief ornament of a complicated and formal social celebration.
O comportamento ritual não só revela realidades práticas e mundanas, é também um teatro vivo da psicologia colectiva e uma das mais ricas expressões da ideologia e crenças - mentalidade - de uma sociedade. Afinal de contas, como os antropólogos notaram, a religião é mais do que um padrão de relações sociais: é uma expressão da capacidade humana para imaginar a estrutura da sociedade. O ritual religioso não é apenas construção cultural: é uma forma de cognição que constrói modelos de realidade e paradigmas de comportamento. E dentro deste processo pelo qual a realidade é definida, o ritual da morte joga um papel central.
Every organized religion holds that certain behaviors, rituals, personalities, places, and/or books are sacred. These organized teachings are proper in their own place, but they are mere options for the one infused with devotion. To such a one, God is direct and spontaneous, providing him with an immediate source of guidance and direction. His relationship with God is not mediated through anyone or anything. (104)
The noble old synagogue had been profaned and turned into a stable by the Nazis, and left open to the elements by the Communists, at least after they had briefly employed it as a 'furniture facility.' It had then been vandalized and perhaps accidentally set aflame by incurious and callous local 'youths.' Only the well-crafted walls really stood, though a recent grant from the European Union had allowed a makeshift roof and some wooden scaffolding to hold up and enclose the shell until further notice. Adjacent were the remains of a bath for the ritual purification of women, and a kosher abattoir for the ritual slaughter of beasts: I had to feel that it was grotesque that these obscurantist relics were the only ones to have survived. In a corner of the yard lay a pile of smashed stones on which appeared inscriptions in Hebrew and sometimes Yiddish. These were all that remained of the gravestones. There wasn't a Jew left in the town, and there hadn't been one, said Mr. Kichler, since 1945.
A veteran, calm and assured, he pauses for a well-measured moment in the doorway of the office and then, boldly, clearly, with the subtly modulated British intonation which his public demands of him, speaks his opening line, 'Good morning!'And the three secretaries - each of them a charming and accomplished actress in her own chosen style - recognise him instantly, without even a flicker of doubt, and reply 'Good morning' to him. (There is something religious here, like responses in church; a reaffirmation of faith in the basic American dogma, that it is, always, a Morning. Good, despite the Russians and their rockets, and all the ills and worries of the flesh. For of course we know, don't we, that the Russians and the worries are not real? They can be unsought and made to vanish. And therefore the morning can ve made to be good. Very well then, it good.