I want to start with a key observation, without which much of the rest of this will not make much sense: rituals are supposed to be effective. Let me explain what that means.
We tend to have an almost anthropological view of rituals, even ones we still practice: we see them in terms of their social function or psychological impact. [...]That is, ritual’s primary effect is the change that takes place in our minds, rather than in the spiritual world. This is the same line of thinking whereby a Church service is justified because it “creates a sense of community” or “brings believers together.” We view rituals often like plays or concerts, experiences without any broader consequences beyond the experience of participation or viewing itself.
This is not how polytheism (ancient or modern) works (indeed, it is not how most modern Christianity works: the sacraments are supposed to be spiritually effective; that is, if properly carried out, they do things beyond just making us feel better. You can see this articulated clearly in some traditional prayers, like the Prayer of Humble Access or Luther’s Flood Prayer).
Instead, religious rituals are meant to have (and will have, so the believer believes, if everything is done properly) real effects in both the spiritual world and the physical world. That is, your ritual will first effect a change in the god (making them better disposed to you) and second that will effect a change in the physical world we inhabit (as the god’s power is deployed in your favor).
Religion vs. Physics!
to an outsider, pondering how many angels dancing on the head of a pin is akin to an exercise comparable to wondering if Boba Fett could kick Spiderman's ass.
Just don’t go that far north or south!
One would keep Shabbos when it is Shabbos directly below the rocket on earth.
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