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ClustersOptAlternative Lifestyles for Families and Single People

Alternatives’ Legacy Publication

Anyone who wants to understand a people of another time or place will find in their rituals and celebrations a telling evidence of who those people were: their beliefs, their values, their social relationships and responsibilities. Rituals give a more concrete picture of the people than the words they speak. In festivals and celebrations and their attendant symbols, the society’s meaning is bodied forth. Ritual is a means of remembering and transmitting values.
In ritual, a person’s unity with the natural world and with brothers and sisters is expressed. One’s own importance and growth is affirmed by the community. People in ritual understand their own lives as part of a rich fabric of celebrations and rites marking the changing of the seasons, seed time and harvest, conception and birth, puberty, betrothal and marriage and death. In ritual, status and role are affirmed, responsibility is reiterated.

But what about us? The rituals and celebrations and festivals which used to define us are dried up. We no longer embrace the values and relationships they were intended to manifest. Our patriotic holidays are a source of embarrassment and shame. In the echo of the salvo at the Memorial Day cemetery we hear the bombs of useless destruction in Asia. At the roll of the drum on the Fourth of July our wrath, rather than our pride, is stirred.

Cluster life revives the hope and possibility of authentic celebration once again. We need not hope to revive old symbols. Symbols come from event and memory and, when forgotten, are unlikely to be revived. But life together suggests new traditions to be established which body forth who we are in relation to our world and to each other and what we are becoming.

Although we can spoil the Christmas season by excessive expectations, modest attempts by clusters to seize upon the holiday as a time to redistribute wealth, and to affirm solidarity with the poor and lowly, may be very satisfying. And the ritual embodiment of what the cluster believes about a community of goods and property may be launched.

– Excerpt from Final Word

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.