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  #1  
Old Aug 22, '07, 12:18 pm
BeeSweet!'s Avatar
BeeSweet! BeeSweet! is offline
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Default Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

My husband is not Catholic, and often resorts to Catholic bashing when we argue (actually Christian bashing in general). I do not try to convert him, I believe that would be a big mistake for me to do so. I would however like to get him to at least respect my faith and get him to stop the bashing (which usually comes out of nowhere, he only uses it to be divisive and mean). He has a great respect for Alan Watts, and for eastern religious philosophy, so I hoped if I could encourage him on that front he would at least embrace some of the peaceful aspects of their philosophy, and let up on me so I can practice my faith in peace.

So, I'm wondering if there are any folks here who have read Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts, and if so would this be a good choice for my intention of getting him to mellow out and leave me be? Alan Watts is one of his all time favorite authors, and his birthday is coming up soon (St. Michael's feast day actually).

Any other suggestions would be appreciated as well, but they must not be written from a Christian perspective, he would only see that as an attempt on my part to convert him. My husband was raised in the Methodist church as a small child, but has had no Christian formation as an adult. He of course knows everything Christianity has to teach though... If he were asked, I believe he would say he's more in line with Buddhist philosophy. He sometimes claims to be an agnostic.

Thanks for your help and suggestions!
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  #2  
Old Aug 22, '07, 3:19 pm
Ahimsa Ahimsa is offline
 
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

He doesn't seem to act like a Buddhist, so I take his claims to Buddhist admiration with a boulder of salt.

I haven't read, or even seen, a copy of Watt's Myth and Ritual, but apparently it's a profound reading of Christian, particularly Catholic, ritual. Here's what a review from amazon.com wrote:
Quote:
Alan Watts, as many readers know, was a famous popularizer of Asian spiritual traditions (particularly Zen Buddhism) in Britain and America. At least this is the common conception of him. Actually he was also a compelling popularizer (in the best sense) of comparative religion. He often contrasted "Western" religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) with "Eastern" ones (Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism). Of course the first group are also Eastern - West Asian (Israel and Arabia) in their origins. But some readers may not know that Watts was raised as a Christian, and returned to that faith at least once in his later years. In fact, his greatest contribution may be the one he made to Christian spirituality, a tradition he knew even better than Zen Buddhism. His critiques of Christian doctrine as usually (mis)understood are profound and potentially transforming. Therefore I feel that this work "Myth and Ritual in Christianity" and the earlier "Behold the Spirit" are two of his very best. If you have read only his later and better-known works, you may be very surprised by this. But his message of joy in life, consciousness-expansion, and love were never better expressed. This book is particularly recommended to those who (like Watts himself) were raised as Christians but who since have explored Eastern Asian spiritual traditions. All the great truths are hidden in your own back yard - you just have to find them.
  #3  
Old Aug 22, '07, 4:05 pm
JimG JimG is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

I read The Supreme Identity, by Alan Watts many years ago. It was an exposition of Eastern mysticism.

The "supreme identity" of the title, is incidentally, God. And God is you. That's why one's supreme identity is divine.

No, it's not quite as crazy as it sounds. It seemed to me that he was to some extent misreading the human experience of consciousness and mind as an identity with God which is only partially grasped. Still, I finished the book not convinced that I was a part of God.

But your husband does not seem much at peace with himself. He doesn't sound as though he is really disposed to Eastern--or Christian--mysticism. Perhaps he needs something more philosophical, such as Mortimer Adler's How to Think About God, or Ten Philosophical Mistakes. But your husband might misconstrue your intent in giving him such titles.
  #4  
Old Aug 23, '07, 5:59 am
notself notself is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

If you husband admires Eastern religion then you need to talk about why he does. Start from his point of view.

Perhaps he is just being contrary and Eastern religion is a smoke screen for his non belief.

If he won't engage you in a true dialog, then tell him to go sit in the corner and face the wall. That is how some Zen practitioners meditate.

Kidding aside, get to the bottom of why he thinks the way he does and stop trying to convert him. It is very irritating.
  #5  
Old Aug 23, '07, 6:03 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

quite frankly the issue in the scenario related by OP does not seem to be religious belief, but personality problems that are causing marriage problems. Neither a Christian nor a Buddhist would attack his spouse's religion when he feels mean and divisive (or at any other time) in the sense of a personal attack, even if he might raise questions in a rational discussion of differences. the issue seems to be the underlying meanness and divisiveness, and I would say, if it were my daughter asking the question, forget books and get counselling, urgent. If there is constant arguing, it is quite possible that while religion may be the topic it is not the underlying reason for the disagreements.
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  #6  
Old Aug 23, '07, 6:14 am
Sr Sally Sr Sally is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

I back up what Puzzleannie says. The OPs scenario sounds very similar to my sis and bro-in-law's situation. He claims to be buddhist, but his mediation etc didn't seem to be making him any more peaceful to live with. My sis-in-law's Christianity (Presbrytrian) isn't too strong and hasn't been much of a comfort to her. Needless to say, the arguments were never really about religion but about many other issues. OP, please see a counselor, with or without your husband. And for his birthday, get him somethign HE wants, not just something you want to give him.
  #7  
Old Aug 23, '07, 11:05 am
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

I do not try to convert him, and my intent here is not to find something that would convert him. I'm getting him a book I know he would like by Alan Watts titled Tao: the Watercourse Way. I can get free shipping if I spend $25, so I went looking for another title for him, which is when I came across Myth and Ritual in Christianity. My query here was to see if anyone had read this book, and what their thoughts were on the subject matter as it relates to being respectful of Catholicism.

Again, believe me when I say I do not ever try to convert my husband. It's not my place to do so, I feel any attempt on my part would drive a wedge both between us and between him and God. Three weeks ago he bought a copy of Lao Tzu: Te-Tao Ching, and he's been talking about how much he likes it. Alan Watts is one of his favorite authors, so I'm sure he would like Tao: the Watercourse Way. I'm sure he would like Myth and Ritual in Christianity as well, but I don't want to get it if it will paint a less than flattering picture of the church.

Suggestions for my husband and I to get counseling although well intentioned, are not the intent of this thread. We may already be in counseling, I'm not making that public knowledge either way though. I'm looking for opinions of the subject matter in Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts.

I have read Cloud Hidden Whereabouts Unknown, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, and The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts. I don't feel I have anything to really worry about as he's a very peaceful sort of fellow with an easily accessible writing style. I guess my concern stems from the use of the word "myth" in the title. I may just check it out from the library and read it myself first before I actually buy a copy.

He's also getting a cabin on the lake for two days, and new lawn furniture for his birthday, so he's getting lots and lots of stuff HE wants... The books are a surprise that I can put wrapping paper and a bow on cuz I like that sort of stuff...
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  #8  
Old Aug 30, '07, 7:45 pm
Yuhan Yuhan is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

I think the idea of giving your husband, "Myth and Ritual in Christianity," is a very good one. I knew Alan Watts toward the end of his life and I assure you that, despite his outward hippie, bohemian appearance, he was a true Christian at heart. His personal relation with the church was painful and he never was comfortable with the role of an Episcopal minister. Also, he was a bit resentful of the fact that traditional theologians couldn't appreciate what he was trying to say. Although he often drew on the insights and doctrines of Asian religions, Watts did this in an effort to shed light on Christian principles. So I think your husband would identify with Watts's struggles with the church, and his efforts to reconcile faith with intellectual rigor.

That said, MRC is not an easy read. It's a very deep book. Watts organizes the book around the Catholic liturgical year, and explains the basic seasons (e.g., Advent, Pentacost, etc.) in light of their ritual and symbolic significance. The terms and much of the vocabulary is familiar to Catholics, but the approach is different. Watts has a radical notion of incarnational theology. In MRC he shows how the rite of the Mass, in particular, is a celebration that should enable the faithful to embrace life in a robust, rich, and deeply sensual way. Watts was emphatic that it's missing the point of the resurrection, if one feels guilty about the "agony of the Cross." If your husband is one of those people who feels the church goes overboard in inculcating guilt and shame, he will find Watts's approach original and refreshing.

It is my firm conviction that Alan Watts was one of the least understood philosophers of the twentieth century. He has much to say that is still relevant and important for religious believers as well as those struggling with religion. This is a great book and you are wise to see its value for your husband. Good luck!
  #9  
Old Aug 30, '07, 8:51 pm
Kitty Chan Kitty Chan is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

what if after reading it, he decides to try to convert you?

myth and ritual would seem to be a bad subject, if you wish him to leave you alone to your religion.

he may figure you need saving.

just a thought.
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  #10  
Old Aug 31, '07, 10:23 am
BeeSweet!'s Avatar
BeeSweet! BeeSweet! is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuhan View Post
I think the idea of giving your husband, "Myth and Ritual in Christianity," is a very good one. I knew Alan Watts toward the end of his life and I assure you that, despite his outward hippie, bohemian appearance, he was a true Christian at heart. His personal relation with the church was painful and he never was comfortable with the role of an Episcopal minister. Also, he was a bit resentful of the fact that traditional theologians couldn't appreciate what he was trying to say. Although he often drew on the insights and doctrines of Asian religions, Watts did this in an effort to shed light on Christian principles. So I think your husband would identify with Watts's struggles with the church, and his efforts to reconcile faith with intellectual rigor.

That said, MRC is not an easy read. It's a very deep book. Watts organizes the book around the Catholic liturgical year, and explains the basic seasons (e.g., Advent, Pentacost, etc.) in light of their ritual and symbolic significance. The terms and much of the vocabulary is familiar to Catholics, but the approach is different. Watts has a radical notion of incarnational theology. In MRC he shows how the rite of the Mass, in particular, is a celebration that should enable the faithful to embrace life in a robust, rich, and deeply sensual way. Watts was emphatic that it's missing the point of the resurrection, if one feels guilty about the "agony of the Cross." If your husband is one of those people who feels the church goes overboard in inculcating guilt and shame, he will find Watts's approach original and refreshing.

It is my firm conviction that Alan Watts was one of the least understood philosophers of the twentieth century. He has much to say that is still relevant and important for religious believers as well as those struggling with religion. This is a great book and you are wise to see its value for your husband. Good luck!
THANK YOU for your extremely helpful post! The fact that the book revolves around the Catholic liturgical year will be such a blessing to us. Most of my husband's difficulty accepting my recent reversion stems from ignorance and a lack of understanding of church practice. And yes, he does have the impression that the church is somewhat "gloomy". He has also said that the Catholic church is in his opinion the only real Christian church there is though. If he only had more knowledge, and in particular from a source that he respects, we would most definitely have a breakthrough.

Part of me feels that maybe he's frustrated that I don't talk about my faith at all with him. It's such a fine line to walk with people. I want to be part of another's conversion, BUT that conversion must be done by them and by God, I would have a miniscule role if any, and still then only if allowed by the Holy Spirit. I sense that others feel that I am trying to convert them if I so much as mention a thing about my faith, so I always stick to simply answering questions, and only when they're asked. My husband's knowledge of the church is only what he's heard either on television or from anti-Catholic family members, so he tends not to ask questions, but more accuse and put me in a position of defense. If he had more knowledge, from a respectable source (Alan Watts being at the top of his list of respectable spiritual sources!), my burden would be lightened immensely!

Paired with a book on Tao, I think he would feel appreciated, as well as inspired. Again, I thank you so much for your insight into this book!
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  #11  
Old Aug 31, '07, 11:06 am
Bennie P Bennie P is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sr Sally View Post
I back up what Puzzleannie says. The OPs scenario sounds very similar to my sis and bro-in-law's situation. He claims to be buddhist, but his mediation etc didn't seem to be making him any more peaceful to live with. My sis-in-law's Christianity (Presbrytrian) isn't too strong and hasn't been much of a comfort to her. Needless to say, the arguments were never really about religion but about many other issues. OP, please see a counselor, with or without your husband. And for his birthday, get him somethign HE wants, not just something you want to give him.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitty Chan View Post
what if after reading it, he decides to try to convert you?

myth and ritual would seem to be a bad subject, if you wish him to leave you alone to your religion.

he may figure you need saving.

just a thought.
Puzzleannie, Sr Sally's & Kitty Chan's suggestions seem to be where you should be looking - counseling sounds like a good starting point.

I use to degrade and/or blame the Church when I was confused and not getting anywhere in disagreements with my wife. This was before it dawned on me, we both (more on me) were ignoring the real issues and problems. This enlightenment didn't happen until I started seeking help for myself by asking God for help. and supprising that is what my wife was doing also, as we both got closer to God we started getting closer to each other - Just keep getting closer to God and let God work on your Husband.

PS Don't give him books that go against your faith - that could be like placing stumbling blocks in both of your paths.
  #12  
Old Aug 31, '07, 11:28 am
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

My question is why aren't you trying to convert him?
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  #13  
Old Aug 31, '07, 11:52 am
notself notself is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

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Originally Posted by 1ke View Post
My question is why aren't you trying to convert him?
I don't believe that anyone can convert another. One can put pressure on another to observe outward forms, but conversion cannot be forced or even taught.
  #14  
Old Aug 31, '07, 4:04 pm
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BeeSweet! BeeSweet! is offline
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

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Originally Posted by 1ke View Post
My question is why aren't you trying to convert him?
1 Corinthians 11:3
Quote:
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
A wife can not be her husband's spiritual head. It would be a very big mistake for me to try. Men should be led by men, not women, most especially in spiritual matters.

1 Corinthians 7:14, 16-17
Quote:
For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife? Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him.
Here Saint Paul tells us married people sanctify each other only in living the life God has called each of us to live. My efforts to convert my husband are restrained through prayer and living the Christian life assigned to me by God. This is what I do, so in a sense yes, I am making efforts towards his conversion, but it is up to God and my husband alone when his conversion finally does come to fruition.

Luke 12:51-57
Quote:
"Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?"
Here Christ obviously warns us of the division He will cause between us, and tells us we are to judge for ourselves what is right. My husband ain't no saint, but he does a whole lot of good. The core teachings of the church, i.e. contraception, abortion, gay marriage, he's totally on board with. He's totally supportive of me being a stay at home wife and mother. He's well on his way! He's got a whole lotta PRIDE though, and me telling him what he needs to be doing with regard to church and prayer would send him running for the hills!

Often I wonder if some of the arguments stem from his fear of conversion. It would be extremely difficult for him to explain such a thing to his family. He's already spent the last two years explaining to his family his wife's reversion. I can only imagine the warnings he was given from both the believers and the non-believers alike. It took me 12 years to come back to the church, and I wanted it and thought about it the entire 12 years. He has never considered such a thing for himself, although I'm sure he has since my reversion only two and a half years ago.

Beyond this, he has to understand through my example that without a shadow of a doubt my love is not now, or ever will be contingent on his conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by notself View Post
I don't believe that anyone can convert another. One can put pressure on another to observe outward forms, but conversion cannot be forced or even taught.
I agree!

Now I have allowed a good deal of digression from the subject (see title) of this thread. If anyone else has comments on the book Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts, please feel welcome to post. Suggestions of books that may help a non-believer come to some respect for the Catholic church are also most welcome. Otherwise, I would sincerely appreciate suggestions for marriage counseling or "hints on how to convert your husband" to wait for the next thread I submit titled, "Help! I need to convert my husband and save my marriage!" or something to that effect. Don't hold your breath waiting for that one though...

I do appreciate all the replies though, I would just prefer to stay on track. Thanks to all!
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  #15  
Old Aug 31, '07, 5:13 pm
Ahimsa Ahimsa is offline
 
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Default Re: Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Alan Watts

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Originally Posted by BeeSweet! View Post
Suggestions of books that may help a non-believer come to some respect for the Catholic church are also most welcome.
How about Living Buddha, Living Christ, by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh?
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