Living with religion is seeing the world as differing social realities. Religion as a concept has always been a point of interest in sociology and anthropology. In classical thought, religion has been interpreted in many ways. For instance, Karl Marx argued that religion is the opium of the masses – it alleviates the suffering of people and gives them hope for a better life beyond this world. Emile Durkheim asserted that religion is a collective expression of consciousness by which people perceive a force that is greater than them. Max Weber, on the other hand, saw religion as something to be studied based on the meanings attributed to it by the individual. There is a diversity of beliefs in our social world. As social beings, our identities and expressions, religious or otherwise, are influenced by the group. But regardless of a person’s religious background, finding meaning in its values and acting based on its tenets are done as individuals. And these have consequences. Religion, as a significant field in sociology and anthropology, does not seek …
As an outsider of the religion, one might ask: Is the protest a matter of independent choice for the members or are they submitting themselves to the mentality of the crowd?
While we can say that the EDSA revolution per se was also an imposition of popular meanings on the landscape, given that revolutions are constitutional violations, the particular space appropriated by INC members is one that has been intentionally and officially carved out to memorialize a significant national event. And as the space includes both a Catholic church and the statue of Mary, use of the space by any other religious group becomes first, a deliberate proclamation of the notion that such religion deserves to be mainstreamed.
What the papal visit has shown us is that collective effervescence – the upsurge of emotion that people have had in the past few days – can be harnessed on many levels. (Image from Say Anything)
Seeing the altar boys during midnight masses reminds of the time when I, too, served as an altar boy in pre-Vatican times. I would outwit other altar boys to be one of the priest’s “sakristan” in morning masses and do the best I can so the priest would choose me again the next time around.
As a Filipino-Chinese who practices both traditional Chinese customs and Catholic rituals, I can’t help but ask: Am I doing two completely opposite things? In practicing a number of traditional Chinese customs, am I violating the teachings of the Church? Should I give one up?