To Durkheim, religion has the function of cohesively putting society together with his contrast and symbiotic treatment of the sacred and the profane. Malinowski adds to this by defining it as that assertion that death is simply an illusion, that there is life beyond the material world. This is rather a strong stance on the denial of one’s own death. And to Marx, it is nothing more than a drug to the people, taking the stand of a conflict theorist. It works in a controlling manner just for the benefit of the few.
To the devotees of the Black Nazareno (Poong Nazareno), it is the summit of their whole being, their lives, their hopes, and the ability to live. On the 9th of January, the Quiapo Church where the Nazareno sits, and the proximate area are flocked by many religious devotees as a form of “devotion” and pledge. It is faith as it is less likely seen by some. This has created stories, documented testimonies, and attested so called “miracles.” Though this may have run questions on the sanity and sense of going to the streets to simply assert faith, the whole ceremonious event is held on how it has held the lives of many.
Function and Purpose
Religion has long been part of the lives of civilized society. It is the status of one’s liberty from primitive dispositions in the distant past. It has become the glue of society, thereby constructing the morals, values, norms, and mores. Scientifically, it is one form of formal law that binds society into one. Probably, on the idea that it is the LSD of society, as Marx would put it, it is right as people believe what is unseen. It is far beyond what is reality, what is going on. And because of this, people are controlled, put at their best behaviors.
But religion can be beyond any objective theoretical strings. It is considered the hope in the afterlife. It reduces the fear and anxiety of human beings on death, famine, war, conflict, or any other form of disaster that basically impose the idea that everything in life is uncertain. This could be that motivational factor to live and hope everyday despite the many possibilities and improbabilities.
The Nazareno, with the procession and the ceremonious activities is that light of hope for the devotees. In a third-world country where days seem to be dependent on nothing but the uncertainty of survival as reflected by the institutionalized, governmental corruption, poverty, the lagging social beliefs and practices, education, and the “seeking” personals lives of people, this symbolic array of rituals and divinity remain to be that strength. People cry over a statue that has long stayed not because of delusion. It is because they want to live a life that is closely interlaced with the idea of hope that one day, things will be okay.
I have long questioned the simplistic belief in any thing that is sanctimonious. I questioned the spurious association of religion and the betterment of my life. I mused on the relevance of prayers and talking to an unseen. I have questioned my own faith.
But among these devotees, I see strength. Faith is something that encompasses culture and people. It goes from one generation to another. It may be imposed, acquired, passed-on, or earned. Nevertheless, it functions in the general lives of most. I may have to stick with what Marx said. I do believe that at some point, religion is that dizzy slope to the unseen. It allows people to accept what is forwarded by those above. Not holding the stance of a conflict perspective, I do think that this impartial unreality works well in an unfair world system of disparity, poverty, inequality, and oppression. I do believe that we need that leap of faith in an endless tragedy of tragedies. In the end, it may be the last we could ever have.
Photo Credit: [www.guardian.co.uk, http://blog.aseankorea.org – featured photo]