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  • He presented this paper at a symposium on “Ritual and Human Adaptation” in Chicago on 12–13 November 1982. The symposium was sponsored by the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science in association with the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science, the Chicago Theological Seminary, the Disciples Divinity House, and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.


Abstract. Ritual cannot be interpreted by a root metaphor of evolution, without reducing ritual's necessary intention. We must rather understand ritual as humanizing revolution. We have therefore two questions. First, What part does ritual have in human reckoning with reality? Second, What part does ritual have in the step to the specifically human? To the first question, the answer is proposed: ritual is that embodiment of our discourse with God and one another, by which we are made available and vulnerable to reality. To the second question, the answer is proposed: as embodied prayer, ritual is the complement to that address of God which posits our ontologically specific humanity, Parodying Aristotle, we may say that we are the sacrificing animals.