Family Rituals

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Family Rituals

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This web site is an experiment in a vision of religion for the 21st century. It is directed to agnostics, ex-clergy, and any persons and families disconnected with organized religions (Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Islam, American Association of Atheists, etc.) who desire the human community ritual services such as birth welcoming ceremonies, coming of age ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and funeral ceremonies, etc. My vision is to develop with the aid of many others a religious alternative for the 21st century, wherever that might lead me and the people who believe that most of what religions have adopted or claimed as their own are really the ritual services and beliefs of all humanity. People outside of organized religion have no readily accessible resources for a community of faith in humanity, the natural universe, and the celebration of the important events in the human cycles of life.

It is my aim to invite others to share their beliefs, ideas and visions of the human community based on sharing what is good and fighting what is evil.

Milky Way Galaxy




by Carl Sandburg

from The Family of Man, created by Edward Steichen for The Museum of Modern Art,

New York, 1955.

The first cry of a newborn baby in Chicago or Zamboango, in Amsterdam or Rangoon, has the same pitch and key, each saying, AI am! I have come through! I belong! I am a member of the Family.@

Many the babies and grownups here from photographs made in sixty-eight nations round our planet Earth. You travel and see what the camera saw. The wonder of the human mind, heart, wit and instinct, is here. You might catch yourself saying, AI=m not a stranger here.@

People! flung wide and far, born into toil, struggle, blood and dreams, among lovers, eaters, drinkers, workers, loafers, fighters, players, gamblers. Here are ironworkers, bridgemen, musicians, sandhogs, miners, builders of huts and skyscrapers, jungle hunters, landlords and the landless, the loved and the unloved, the lonely and abandoned, the brutal and the compassionate--one big family hugging close to the ball of Earth for its life and being.

Here or there you may witness a startling harmony where you say, AThis will be haunting me a long time with a loveliness I hope to understand better.@

In a seething of saints and sinners, winners or losers, in a womb of superstition, faith, genius, crime, sacrifice, here is the People, the one and only source of armies, navies, work-gangs, the living flowing breath of the history of nations, ever lighted by the reality or illusion of hope. Hope is a sustaining human gift.

Everywhere is love and love-making, weddings and babies from generation to generation keeping the family of Man alive and continuing. Everywhere the sun, moon and stars, the climates and weathers, have meanings for people. Though meanings vary, we are alike in all countries and tribes in trying to read what sky, land and sea say to us. Alike and ever alike we are on all continents in the need of love, food, clothing, work, speech, worship, sleep, games, dancing, fun. From the tropics to arctics humanity lives with these needs so alike, so inexorably alike.

Here are set forth babies arriving, suckling, growing into youths, restless and questioning. Then as grownups, they seek and hope. They mate, toil, fish, quarrel, sing, fight, pray, on all parallels and meridians having likeness. The earliest man, ages ago, had tools, weapons, cattle, as seen in his cave drawings. And like him the latest man of our day has his tools, weapons, cattle. The earliest man struggled through inexpressibly dark chaos of hunger, fear, violence, sex. A long journey it has been from that early Family of Man to the one of today which has become a still more prodigious spectacle.

If the human face is Athe masterpiece of God@ it is here then in a thousand fateful registrations. Often the faces speak what words can never say. Some tell of eternity and others only the latest tattlings. Child faces of blossom smiles or mouths of hunger are followed by homely faces of majesty carved and worn by love, prayer and hope, along with others light and carefree as thistledown in a late summer wind. Faces having land and sea on them, faces honest as the morning sun flooding a clean kitchen with light, faces crooked and lost and wondering where to go this afternoon and tomorrow morning. Faces in crowds, laughing and windblown leaf faces, profiles in an instant of agony, mouths in a dumb show mockery lacking speech, faces of music in gay song or a twist of pain, a hate ready to kill, or calm and ready-for-death faces.

In the times to come as the past there will be generations taking hold as though loneliness and the genius of struggle has always dwelt in the hearts of the pioneers. To the question, AWhat will the story be of the Family of Man across the near or far future? Some would reply, AFor the answers read if you can the strange and baffling eyes of youth.@


There is only one man in the world

and his name is All Men.

There is only one woman in the world

and her name is All Women.

There is only one child in the world

and the child=s name is All Children.


A camera testament, a drama of the grand canyon of humanity, an epic woven of fun, mystery and holiness--here is the Family of Man!


The family of men and women and their group ceremonies celebrating the crucial phases of their lives are as ancient as the cave people. It is my intention to share with others these ceremonies, collect as many as possible and pass them on to our posterity. The celebrations of birth, adulthood, marriage and death are the property of all peopleCnot the possession of those in organized religion. They should be celebrated in the home, in groups, in the natural universeCwherever humans gather to celebrate and use the words, songs, or images of their ancestors.


Haley's Comet




(from AThe People Yes@ C 1936)

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg website:

The people will live on.

The learning and blundering people will live on.

They will be tricked and sold and again sold

And go back to the nourishing earth for root holds,

The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,

You can=t laugh off their capacity to take it.

The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,

is a vast huddle with many units saying:

AI earn my living.

I make enough to get by

And it takes all my time.

If I had more time

I could do more for myself


I could read and study

And talk things over

And find out about things.

It takes time.

I wish I had the time.@

The people is a tragic and comic two face:

Hero and hoodlum: phantom and gorilla twisting

To moan with a gargoyle mouth: AThey

Buy me and sell me ... it=s a game ...

Sometime I=ll break loose. . .@

Once having marched

Over the margins of animal necessity,

Over the grim line of sheer subsistence

Then man came

To the deeper rituals of his bones

To the lights lighter than any bones,

To the time for thinking things over,

To the dance, the song, the story,

Or the hours given over to dreaming,

Once having so marched.

Between the finite limitations of the five senses

And the endless yearnings of man for the beyond

The people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food

While reaching out when it comes their way

For lights beyond the prison of the five senses,

For keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.

This reaching is alive.

The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.

Yet this reaching is alive yet

For lights and keepsakes.

The people know the salt of the sea

And the strength of the winds

Lashing the comers of the earth.

The people take the earth

As a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.

Who else speaks for the Family of Man?

They are in tune and step

With constellations of universal law.

The people is a polychrome,

A spectrum and a prism

Held in a moving monolith,

A console organ of changing themes,

A clavilux [i.e., an instrument for throwing upon a screen varying patterns of light and color that permit combinations analogous to the successive phrases and themes of music‑‑also called a color organ] of color poems

Wherein the sea offers fog

And the fog moves off in rain

And the Labrador sunset shortens

To a nocturne of clear stars

Serene over the shot spray

Of northern lights.

The steel mill sky is alive.

The fire breaks white and zigzag

Shot on a gun' metal gloaming.

Man is a long time coming.

Man will yet win.

Brother may yet line up with brother:

The old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.

There are men who can=t be bought.

The fireborn are at home in fire.

The stars make no noise.

You can=t hinder the wind from blowing.

Time is a great teacher.

Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief

The people march.

In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for

Keeps, the people march:

AWhere to? What next?@

Last updated: September 14, 2006, by Keith Landers


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