Goal of the CDC:  Making understandable the complexity of present-day Christianity by clarifying the contextual character of Christian theological views, practices and movements through history and cultures.

RATIONALE AND TEMPLATE for ENTRIES # 5, CP

RITUAL, COMMUNAL AND SOCIAL CHRISTIAN PRACTICES

7/29/2003

Topic:  The several understandings and/or implementations through history and contemporary cultures of a given Christian practice—ritual practices,  community practices (including structures of authority, offices, training of clergy and laity), or social practices (social services, education, all involvements in society)—emphasizing  that each of its understandings or implementation is the result of an implicit or explicit interpretation of 1) a tradition (from Scripture or later) 2) in terms of certain religious, theological or ethical concerns, 3) in and for the sake of people in a context.

 

Audience:  It is to be written for ¡°curious and bright undergraduate students¡± (beginning university students whom we nicknamed ¡°curious Georgia¡±) and yet must be informative enough to be a solid quick reference article for Christian clergy, professors and students in Christian seminaries and religious studies departments throughout the world.   These readers might not know anything about Christianity – your self-contained entry should give them sufficient information to give them the assurance they know the essential about your topic – yet; they will have access to the rest of the dictionary for surveys of the history of Christianity in the world and in each region, as well as for explanations of concepts, Christian practices, events, history of Christian movements and denominations, and entries on women and men who are representatives of all of these..

 

Type of Entry and Goal:  A very concise presentation that is quite informative because it clarifies the several distinctive implementations of each given practice through history and cultures.  This presentation is designed to promote the recognition that any given understanding and implementation of a Christian practice results from a choice among alternatives, and to help recognize how the chosen understanding and implementation of the Christian practice is related to a particular cultural social, and religious contexts.  This entry can be concise because many technical terms (for parts of rituals, offices, vestments, clerical garbs, specific attitudes, actions, social involvements) are defined in other entries or in short lexical definitions.

 

The following classifications are to be used to facilitate the cross-cultural comparison of Christianity in diverse contexts: (The order may vary; categories may be re-grouped, but all must be considered in preparing an entry.) 

 


TEMPLATE for ENTRIES # 5, Christian Practices

 

(To insure consistency for the CDC, please include the following [[Phrases  Between Brackets]] in your draft B to  be subsequently removed by the editor. The order of the points is to be determined in each case by the author.)

 

[[Introduction]] (In telegraphic, list style; should provide key information not to be repeated and serve as a table content of the entry.  Much information can be conveyed in a few words):  General definition of the practice; listing of: a) Different types of implementations of this practice  to be discussed;  b) The tensions involved in this practice.  (Pedagogical Goal: explaining to readers, the curious undergraduate students, why they might be interested in reading this entry.)

 

Several Distinctive Implementations of this Practice*  (see below)        

[[Distinctive Implementation # 1)]] 

[[Distinctive Implementation # 2)]] 

[[Distinctive Implementation # 3)]]    ¡¦. etc.

 [[Conclusion]]  Pointing out EITHER what is the better implementation of this practice in the present context;  OR what is at stake when one or another of these implementations is chosen.

[[Related Entries]] presupposed:  These should be signaled in the body of the entry with an *  after the word designating the entry.  A few essential cross references may be listed at the end of the entry between parentheses:   ¡°(see also xxxxx).¡± 

 

Short Bibliography (not included in the word-count):  List the main resources for further studies of this topic to be included in the Bibliography of the Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity on a web-site that will be regularly up-dated.  Usually not more than 5 to 10 titles with full biographical data (see style sheet  at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/religious_studies/CDC/  ).

 

The presentation of the ¡°distinctive implementations¡± must be tailored to the kind of practice discussed:

 

*Ritual Practices:   the presentation of their distinctive implementations should underscore a) How the different parts of the ritual or worship service function together (sacred spaces -- architecture, symbolism, icons, decoration or lack of such, place of the altar, the iconostasis, seating arrangement --; sacred times; roles of leader and laity; vestments; liturgy and its different parts); b) How this implementation is related to the particular religious and cultural context in which it is implemented; c) How are Christians involved in this practice?  Who are leaders?  What is their authority?  Respective roles of different participants?  (Do not overlook women, in most cases at least 50% of the participants.)

 

*Communal Practices:  the presentation of their distinctive implementations should underscore a) the relationships among the members of the community, the distinct roles of each, and the structures of authority (offices, relationship between laity and clergy, etc. Do not overlook the role and place of women) ; b) what distinguishes the Christian community from other kinds of communities in society; and c) how this given implementation of a Christian communal practice is positively or negatively influenced by the specific cultural and social context in which it is found.

 

*Social Practices, the presentation of their distinctive implementations should underscore a) the particular aspect of the life of the society at large (economic, social, political, cultural) to which this social practice is related (including the problems or needs it should seek to address); b) the particular way in which Christians as individuals or as a community see themselves as responsible for this aspect of social life; and c) the extent to which this ¡°Christian¡± social practice is similar or different from the social practices of other groups in the given society; d) who are the Christians involved in this practice?  The leaders?  What is their authority?  Respective roles of different participants?  (Do not overlook women, in most cases at least 50% of the participants.)

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