Over on Religious Forums yesterday, I stated, "Anthropologists have identified rituals in every religion they've studied", and then asked, "Why are rituals so wide-spread in religions? What function(s) do they serve?"
Laurie, who blogs at "Just Another Day", answered:
Rituals raise the ordinary to the extraordinary by imbuing them with greater significance. Repetition of actions and words fix the rituals deeply into our brains so we access the meaning of the ritual without really even thinking about it. It also creates a shared experience which bonds a community together and taps into the history of the people and gives them a unified context from which to talk about their religious experience.It occurs to me that's the best explanation of how rituals function in religion that I've yet to hear.