Doing Ethnography – “Through the Looking Glass”
Ethnography refers to the research that primarily aims to understand culture. This is done by analyzing the perspectives that the people have concerning various aspects of their lives. This research method has been used in various fields like biology and the social side of the people under study. Ethnography is broadly classified as a branch of anthropology. Ordinarily, the research method includes the history of the subject matter, some geography of the areas the people lived in like the climate of the area. Ethnography is very important in anthropology since it provides significant information about the subject matter and their beliefs and opinions concerning diverse matters (Robbins, 78)
The location selected for this particular ethnographic study is a church. The church looks old but it is remarkable condition. It is called the old Roman Catholic Church of North America. Arnold Mathew Harris established the church in 1910 (Avis, 150) has no association with the catholic denomination but their belief is somewhat similar. It claims to have nine fundamental differences that differentiate it from the Catholic Church. These differences form the basis of their ideologies and methods of worship. However, this church does not reject the presence of the pope as the head of the church worldwide. The most prominent difference between these two churches is the requirement of celibacy that is required by the Catholics but in this church, it is not.
A key symbol in the Old Catholic Church is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is considered the core foundation of this church. It is shared during each service held in the church. Sharing of the Eucharist is believed to signify unity and communion with each other. In addition to this, the Eucharist is considered the greatest expression of God’s love for human kind. This is because the Eucharist is assumed the body of Jesus who sacrificed his life for the salvation pf the whole world. Therefore, the Eucharist is supposed to be an expression of victory over sin and all the evil caused by Satan in the world. This belief in the Eucharist is shared by most Christian denominations. This is the most important symbol of the Old Catholic Church.
Based on the beliefs of the church in question, it is necessary to discuss the relations that the symbols have on other aspects of the society. In the case of the Eucharist, it is evident that the church encourages sharing of meals. This kindness should not be limited to a person’s immediate family but should extend to their neighbors as well. Another important symbol that differentiates this church from the others is the ability of clergy men tot get married. In addition to this, the church also began the ordination of women to serve as clergy people. Initially, this role was only for the males. It is believed that the borrowed this from the Catholic Church where only the males could become priests. However, the Old Catholic Church amended this to facilitate the presence of women in the clergy.
Women in the clergy had the same responsibilities as the men did. For instance, the females could lead services and even head various organizations that the church owned. This has a great effect on the society especially to those people who believed in certain stereotypes. In the case of the genders, the ordination of women has created a sort of equality between the two genders. Initially, the males were alleged superior to the females. This was evidenced by the tasks and jobs that they were given as compared tot their counterparts, the females. However, with his development in the church, more women participated in the church more boldly than they did before. People who believed in stereotypes were also affected by this change. Ideally, the y believed that leadership belonged to the males but all that changed. For this reason, they had to change their opinions and views towards the relationship that existed between males and females.
The leadership of the church is another symbol of the Old Catholic Church. The paramount head of the church is the archbishop. He makes all the important decision related to the church and serves as a unifying factor in the church. By the belief in one leader, unity is fostered in the church and the chances of disagreements occurring are limited. Unity in the church has been one of the key reasons why the church has lasted for over 100 years since its inception. The effect of unity on the society is that it maintains good relationships between the members of the church. This good relationship enables the community to live in harmony. The ethnographic analysis of this church has been based on the key factors that differentiate it from the other denominations in Christianity. The analysis has also included the effects the symbols have on the society and the followers of the church. For this reason, ethnographic methods are important in the understanding of various people’s cultures and beliefs pertaining to a certain matter.
Robbins, Richard H. Cultural Anthropology. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 2011. Print
Avis, Paul D. L. The Christian Church: An Introduction to the Major Traditions. London: SPCK, 2002. Print.
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