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A Thought About Religion While in Bali

Asking for a blessing on the rice planting.

It’s been pretty slow going in Ubud the past couple of days. I have a rotten cold and it’s been raining pretty much all the time for the past four days. Not that the rain would stop me. That’s what Columbia is for. The cold, however, sucks, and it’s hard to type when I have to lift up my elbow to cough into it every two seconds.

Yeah, I know. Life in Bali can be a bitch. But, I guess it will have to do for now.

You run into random rituals, some involving hundreds of people, all the time in Ubud.

This morning, we were awakened not only by the downpour on the roof but also by the bell of a priest doing a ceremony to bless the rice planting next door. As you walk or drive around here you can’t help but run into religious ceremonies, both big and small. Religion and its imagery are everywhere, and it seems that people regard it as part of life, rather than something that has to be done.

The ancient Romans had an understanding with their gods: if you performed the appropriate rituals, that made a contract that the gods were supposed to honor. Of course, that was problematic, because sometimes they didn’t. But, you could, of course, blame it on an improperly performed ritual, or whatever else.

Even the dances put on for tourists have a religious aspect.

I don’t think it works quite the same way here, although you see the rituals performed constantly. My impression is that the Balinese, with their daily evocations, are more asking for blessings (and acknowledging past ones) than making that unholy deal that seems to pervade less animistic cults–such as ours.

I was struck recently by the Archbishop of St. Paul’s calling for a prayer urging his “flock” to vote for the so-called Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. What can be inferred from this is not just that the Catholic Church has a panic infused aversion to gays, but that the religion, at least as practiced by this man, is all about just practicing the religion as laid out by the church, and never mind the person right in front of you.

Because, if you go to church, read the bible, and do as the priests say, you go to heaven, right? Oh yeah, and don’t forget to hate people who aren’t just like you.

End screed.

Religion is everywhere in Bali. Of course, it's good to pray while you're driving in Bali traffic.


One Response to A Thought About Religion While in Bali

  1. B Basch December 22, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Just happened to click on Kristin this morning and one visual lead to another and now I am into the Bali photos and commentary, which are excellent and a nice surprise. Thanks, and good for you!

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