Rituals. Rituals of the kind where people gather for some purpose to perform some kind of function in a more or less predescribed manner. I strongly dislike most of them, and I cringe every time I have to participate. Even secular rituals and rituals that have nothing to do with any form of beliefs, like graduation ceremonies and the ritual singing of birthday songs. I participate in said ceremonies to show respect and support to the persons in the center of it all (although I dislike the fluff), but I hate being the centerpoint of rituals. For example, when getting married (secularly, of course), I made it a condition that it should be shaved down to the absolute minimum solution, i.e. the smallest possible number of people attending, the bare minimum of ritualistic things to go through, etc. Luckily, the wife is of much of the same opinion as me.
I grew up with a rather mild form of Lutheranism, although my mother made it quite clear that disbelieving was not an option. My father never really talked about religion; I have later come to think he wasn’t really religious, and just kept quiet about it. Even as a kid, I disliked rituals, in particular religious rituals of any kind, which made me feel some form of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, I felt that rituals were a necessary thing even if it felt uncomfortable - why else would there be rituals? On the other hand, I couldn’t understand why all the fluff and pomp and irrelevant ritualistic words and actions were necessary - “Just cut out all the fluff and proceed to the core of what you are trying to do!” It was only later, when I started philosophizing on my own, and learn about mathematics and the sciences (in particular physics, astronomy, cosmology, chemistry, geology, computational theory, and evolution) that it started to dawn on me that I have actually always been an agnostic or an atheist, and that religious rituals were nothing but pomp and feelgood words and actions to lull people into a comfortable believing zone.
As a child, I thought I believed in the christian god, because that was the only philosophical framework that was available to me. It was only much later, long after I self-identified as an atheist (and later tending towards antitheism), that I realized that all those conflicting thoughts i used to have (like “I just read the New Testament, but I find it full of contradictions - there must be something I have misunderstood”, or “I find these sermons quite ridiculous - what part of the picture am I missing here?”, or “Those blasphemic utterances of [other person] make sense logically, but boy is s/he wrong!”) were just a sign that I never really, actually, truly belived in a god. And once I came to that realization, it felt good to escape those religious rituals for good. Superplusgood.
So, what are your opinions/feelings about rituals (of any kind)?