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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: Definitions and Relationships 
12th-Mar-2011 10:09 am
Books (Antique)
"Religion is the directedness of the spirit toward unconditioned meaning; culture is the directedness of the spirit toward conditioned forms. ... As the substance of culture is religion, so the form of religion is culture."
– Paul Tillich, What Is Religion, pp. 72f.
13th-Mar-2011 07:42 am (UTC)
When I was in my high school World History class, we split into groups and "identified thesis statements" etc for readings in our textbook. One group summarized a section on sacred/communal dance in an African culture by saying that they danced in order to express their culture. I raised my hand and said that was a slight (and v. typical of Western secular/sociological thinking) distortion of the meaning. They were dancing in order to express their belief/enact their ritual, which had a meaning in itself; obviously in the process they were expressing their culture, but that wasn't the primary reason for their dancing. My teacher thought I was just quibbling or something, and moved on, but that always stayed in my head and became one of those remembered disagreements that you pick up late at night and argue with yourself over. This quote reminded me of that!

Edited at 2011-03-13 07:44 am (UTC)
13th-Mar-2011 07:52 am (UTC)
And as the argument is cycling around again, I think it could be said that in many or most pre-modern/"primitive" religious cultures, the line between substance and form would be difficult or impossible to draw; the enacted ritual is the meaning made present and actual, and the only way of speaking of or comprehending the "unconditioned."

Edited at 2011-03-13 07:53 am (UTC)
13th-Mar-2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
I think it's a great observation, Courtney, especially for a high schooler to have made, especially in recognizing that there was a distinct Western/secular/Modern component to it, and not just in assuming "that's the way things are." To separate substance and form is so recent in this way: the very word and notion of "culture" in this sense is that new, but once it is ubiquitous and taken for granted, that idea that you can separate the two (and thus that meaning is optional, effectively) becomes, I suppose, a big part of the thrust toward the radical subjectivism of postmodernity.
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