Based on a contribution to a panel discussion on Dana Logan’s Awkward Rituals, this essay addresses the first chapter of the book, in which Logan discusses the rites of Freemasons in the early American republic. It considers the particular significance of Masonic ritual practice with respect to Logan’s arguments about patterns of change in pre- and post-Revolutionary America; and reflects on the general theoretical import of this notion of ritual awkwardness, embodied by the Freemasons, considered as a form of purposive activity. It raises questions about the broader applicability in comparative religious studies of Logan’s insights, both for studying history and for thinking about ritual.
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- comparative religion
- ritual theory