Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 27, No 2 (2014)

Inappropriate Behavior? On the Ritual Core of Religion and its Challenges to Interreligious Hospitality

Marianne Moyaert
Issued Date: 3 Nov 2014


In our age of dialogue and encounter between religions, Christians ask if they can celebrate and pray with believers belonging to other religious traditions. Both in the United States and in Europe, especially, this is a new but rapidly growing phenomenon. We cannot but note the increasing impetus for acts of interreligious prayer, multifaith celebrations, and ritual participation. As more and more Christians experience religious diversity from nearby and are touched by the vividness of other religious traditions as well as by their spiritual and moral wisdom, and as more and more people engage in dialogical encounters, they also increasingly seek to explore the possibilities of interreligious ritual participation. In the past, entering the sacred space of another religious community was simply not done, whereas today ritual participation is becoming commonplace. However, ritual participation is a complex and ambivalent phenomenon. Whilst often experienced as moving, perhaps even insightful, ritual participation may also confront believers with the question whether their participation is, religiously speaking, appropriate. This can result in a certain discomfort. What exactly is at stake and how we may understand comfort remains theoretically underdeveloped in the scholarly literature. In this article, I will shed some light on the ambiguity of ritual participation (it both attracts and causes uneasiness) by focusing on the specific nature of rituals.

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DOI: 10.1558/jasr.v27i2.222


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