The Bog Irishman in his faithfulness to the rule of Friday abstinence is undeniably like the primitive ritualist Magical rules have always an expressive function. Whatever other functions they perform, disciplinary, anxiety-reducing, or sanctioning of moral codes, they have first and foremost a symbolic function. The official symbolism of Friday abstinence was orginally personal mortification, a small weekly celebration of the annual celebration of Good Friday. Thus it pointed directly to Calvary and Redemption. It could hardly have a more central load of meaning for Christian worship. In reporting that it has become empty and meaningless, what is meant is that its symbols are no longer seen to point in that direction or anywhere ...

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