I revised Jim Babcock’s Petrov Day ritual and used it for a small household ritual on Saturday. A link to the Google Doc with my ritual is here.
- A much stronger focus on nuclear war throughout the text; AI risk, biorisk, and risk from nuclear war are name-checked near the end.
- In line with the above, a “global coordination” candle replaces the “computation” candle.
- Many factual errors fixed, including a complete rewrite of the section about World War II.
- “Preserving knowledge required redundancy. In 1439, during the European Renaissance, Gutenberg perfected a device to do just that” now appears twice (h/t Andrew Rettek)
- Jim Babcock’s version suggests using a menorah to hold the candles. Unfortunately, menorahs appear to be poorly designed for the amount of lighting candles, blowing them out, picking them up, and putting them back that the ritual calls for. Your Jewish friends will also complain a lot that it is not Hanukkah. I do not recommend doing this.
- I unfortunately found out after the rewrite that the Black Plague may not have slowed the progress of humanity and, in fact, may have improved it by increasing the bargaining power of peasants. I would suggest that future ritual users either cut that section entirely or replace it with a less ambiguous case such as the Fall of Rome.
- I’d suggest handing out the list of questions ahead of time so that no one pauses the ritual for two minutes while they try to think if they know of any older relatives.
Daniel Speyer said:
Could you specify what the factual errors were? I tried to mentally diff your text against my version, but found it difficult.
I don’t actually remember all the changes I made! I remember correcting the discovery of fire and what fire is useful for, I corrected the Cuban Missile Crisis in line with this post, and like I said there were major revisions about WWII.
A reading from Dialectic of Enlightenment might fit in the post-1945 readings. The candle handling seems a bit tricky to generalize beyond a small table.
The scaling limit is intentional; if you have more people than will fit at a small table, you’re supposed to have multiple groups and multiple tables.
This looks like a fantastic ritual! And, fwiw, as a Catholic who doesn’t participate in religious ceremonies of other faiths, this is plenty secular enough that I’d be comfortable participating.
Structurally speaking, it reminds me a little of the Easter vigil Mass. If you’re ever looking for inspiration for another round of revisions, I wonder if that mightn’t be a useful reference point for a ritual that’s gone through a lot of refinement? It features more songs, which I remember you mentioning as a thought for next time, as well as candle-handling in a large congregation. Similarly, Tenebrae services.
“the Black Plague may not have slowed the progress of humanity and, in fact, may have improved it by increasing the bargaining power of peasants.”
This is a common claim, but the timelines don’t add up. The transition from manorial economies to urbanization and greater wages was underway by the 1200s, generations before the plague. (Wilhelm Abel’s Agricultural Fluctuations In Europe has some excellent data on the relevant economies.) That said, the fall of Rome seems to have set back the accumulation of knowledge much more than the Black Death, and I agree it makes a better example.