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(reminder: all quotes here are fiddled, probably.)

天地會:組織還是傳統?


As an organization, one assumes that the Tiandihui embodied a structure, decision-making procdedures, and mechanisms whereby information might be passed back and forth between groups, not unlike the structure suggested by references to Tiandihui groups as ``lodges''. As a tradition, one thinks of the spread of beliefs and symbols, including the belief in the existence of an omnipresent Tiandihui, whether or not the Tiandihui was read. ...

As long as Tiandihui research is dominated by the question of whether it was a seditious organization, the details of the initiation rituals---in which the novice was introduced to ``mother'' in front of a rice-filled wooden bushel on which were planted various highly symbolic objects such as flags, a ruler, an abacus, a mirror, and a pair of scissors---seem out of place. Yet, if the argument is to be advanced that the Tiandihui might have spread as religious practice, then at some stage the meaning of its rituals has to become a central question of Tiandihui studies.


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