Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions by Catherine Bell
Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions was written by Catherine Bell who was a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Santa Clara and one of the world’s leading experts in the field of ritual studies. This book was copyrighted 1997 but it was re-issued with a new forward in 2009 after the death of Catherine Bell in 2008.
The aim of the book is to give a fairly comprehensive look at the history of theories about ritual and religion (this was the subject matter of part I in the book), the spectrum of both ritual and ritual like activities (the subject matter of part II of the book), and the fabric of social and cultural life that forms the context in which people turn to ritual practices and to ritual theories (the subject matter of part III of the book).
So what do I like about this book? Honestly, everything. The theories of ritual are explained in an easy manner. You can tell that she was a teacher. She makes everything sound logical. In her explanations of Islamic ritual you can tell that she knew exactly what she was talking about and while she was talking about the different religions there was no sense of disdain or ridiculing coming through like many other scholars I’ve read even if they don’t know they are doing it. The book is a bit dense but it is a great introduction to the subject of rituals.