Journey And Its Liminality Theology Religion Essay Example
Journey And Its Liminality Theology Religion Essay Example

Journey And Its Liminality Theology Religion Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (924 words)
  • Published: September 26, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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This essay examines the Rite of Passage known as the "Journey" at Saint Alban's College, an all-male high school in Lynnwood, Pretoria. In this rite, 10th grade students are required to participate. The essay delves into how the Journey connects to Turner's theory of liminality. According to Bowie (2006), who quotes S.J. Tambiah, ritual is a culturally constructed system that involves symbolic communication. These rituals consist of organized sequences of words and actions expressed in various forms and are characterized by formality, rigidity, merging, and redundancy. This definition will be used throughout the essay. Additionally, Van Gennep's three-stage theory of ritual is crucial in evaluating the Journey and its relation to Turner's theory of liminality since it falls into the liminal stage according to Van Gennep.

As a 10th-grade student at St.Alban's in 2010, I person


ally participated in the Journey. It entailed engaging in activities such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding, rappelling, swimming, and kayaking from Lynnwood to a campground near Machadodorp in Mpumalanga over a period of 23 days. The journey commenced at the front gate of St.Alban's on Clearwater Road in Lynnwood before making its way towards its destination. Each year approximately 120-130 scholars at St Alban's embark on this coach journey divided into six groups departing successively each day after the previous group departs. Accompanying them until their final destination are two senior students assigned as ritual seniors for each group.
During the first day, we are given a flag with our group number and leave the schoolyard through a guard of honor. This symbolizes our transition to senior high school and our entrance into a higher social circle as we become eligible for

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the Journey ritual. Throughout the 23 days of Journey, written letters are our only means of communication with people outside of our immediate group. These letters are delivered once a week, although there may be delays in their arrival. As a result, we are effectively cut off from society during the entire journey. From days 2 to 13, we participate in activities like hiking, cycling, or kayaking as we make our way towards an area known as "Kingdom" in Mpumalanga. The senior members observe us during this time to see how we handle unexpected challenges without too much intervention from them. They assess our problem-solving skills and resilience by observing tasks such as Surs, bike concatenation interruptions, kayaks turtling, and changes in weather conditions. This early stage of the journey is different from other rites like Venda miss's induction rite or Vhusha because it does not involve the presence of ritual seniors. On day 14 of the Journey, there is another separation ritual called "Solo". During Solo, participants are isolated from all human interaction for 36 hours to reflect on themselves and their place in the larger scheme of thingsDuring Solo, participants are equipped with a sleeping bag, a 2 meter by 2 meter PVC tarp, and some food. The liminal stage of Solo involves self-reflection and self-assessment. After the 36 hours, everyone is gathered silently around a large fire for a debriefing session with the ritual seniors to evaluate each participant's transformation since starting the Journey. From day 15 to 22, our journey continues towards the camp near Machadodorp. On the final day, which is day 22, we reach the last campground where we

can physically relax as it marks the end of our physical journey until we return to St Alban's. The second-to-last day includes another group debriefing session where each novice has an opportunity to share their personal or observed changes within the group due to the impact of the Journey. Additionally, senior students also participate in this final debriefing session offering comments on each member of the group and highlighting what stood out about them. On our ultimate day, we travel back to St Alban's on a coach and upon arrival walk through another grand guard of honor consisting mostly of older students who have already completed their Journey. Upon reaching the flagpole at campus center, we raise our group's flag as symbolizing our return and successful completion of Journey.The tradition of each group raising the flag represents our reunion with the St Alban's community as senior scholars. Regardless of social standing, everyone is considered equal during the Journey. Trusting and relying on each other is important as individuals possess different skills. Without this trust and cooperation, completing the Journey in 23 days would be almost impossible. Turner's theory of communitas can be seen in the Journey context. Those who have completed it have noticed that working together on an equal level makes tasks easier. On cycling days, riding alone is more challenging compared to staying in the leader's draft. When the leader gets tired, the group takes turns leading. This system enabled us to cycle 90km in under 5 hours. However, some groups ignored this approach and arrived at their campsite approximately 10 hours later. While not mandatory for every student, there is a divide

between those who have completed it and those who refused to participate in the Journey. Nevertheless, most students at St Alban's class 10s pursue it yearly as it has become a tradition. Some claim they will never participate again, but majority express willingness to do so.
The main objective of the rituals in Journey is not just about gaining knowledge from older members, but it is also centered around building communitas through different ceremonies. These rituals aim to develop a more robust leadership team at St Alban's and share wisdom among trusted peers.

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