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That weird thing they do

post #1 of 838
Thread Starter 
In some other discussions lately there has been confusion about the meaning of rituals or symbols from various faiths. Some reported feeling disturbed or nervous witnessing rituals that seemed ornate and bizarre to them. Since we fear what is unfamiliar to us, it seems to me that having an open discussion about things that puzzle us regarding the traditions of others would be a good way to promote peace and tolerance.

So, here's a forum...there are women from so many different faiths here. I'm sure that for almost any question someone could ask there is someone who will have an answer or know where to look it up! There's no such thing as a stupid question and it's better to ask and learn than to remain confused and perhaps fearful of the way the "others" are carrying on.

My question: what is the significance of dreadlocks, for those who have them as part of your spiritual tradition?
post #2 of 838
Quote:
My answer: if you ever wondered why some Jewish people mumble when praying, instead of just staying quiet like is traditional for many Protestant sects, it's because it is actually mandated in religious law that you say certain prayers at certain volumes. It's also mandated to stand during some prayers and bow at certain phrases, and to walk forward several steps. There's a whole "prayer choreography" that I or someone more knowledgeable could go into at length if anyone was more curious about it. Quite a contrast from what people raised to think of prayer as a time for being absolutely silent and sitting completely still would be used to.
That is interesting. Im a convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church..from Protestantism. The thing that was really surprising to me were the prayers...they are prayed aloud...we bow...with certain prayers we prostrate ourselves. With the bow it is more like a squat with a sweeping of the hand on the floor...(still confuses me a bit...I feel like a baby learning to walk!)
We have so many hymns...and they are chanted...its really neat.
post #3 of 838
Thread Starter 
I visited a Russian Orthodox service once and of all the Christian sects I have visited (not too many) it reminded me the most of the way the Jewish prayer service is structured. Interesting, eh?
post #4 of 838
I have one: why have I seen Jewish people cover their eyes with their hands while praying/saying a blessing?
post #5 of 838

bs"d

One of the central prayers of Judaism is called the Shema. The first line is "Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokainu Hashem Ehud", said with a name of G-d instead of "Hashem" (which means "the Name"). It means "Listen O Israel, Hashem is our G-d and Hashem is One". This line is supposed to be said with intense concentration its meaning(s). We cover our eyes to keep from being distracted by what is going on around us.
post #6 of 838
post #7 of 838
Thank you, BinahYeteirah, that is beautiful.
post #8 of 838
My UU church, the oldest still functioning church in the US, has pews that are like little cages, you actually open up a little door to get in, then close it behind you, and there are railings up the back of the pew to about head height. Some of them are like little squares, where I guess a whole family could fit.

I can't figure out why there are the little doors and railings. Was it to keep the kids inside? Was it for warmth, since you could pile all your blankets in and keep the drafts out?

Anyone know? I haven't asked anyone at the church yet.
post #9 of 838
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post #10 of 838
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
My UU church, the oldest still functioning church in the US, has pews that are like little cages, you actually open up a little door to get in, then close it behind you, and there are railings up the back of the pew to about head height. Some of them are like little squares, where I guess a whole family could fit.

I can't figure out why there are the little doors and railings. Was it to keep the kids inside? Was it for warmth, since you could pile all your blankets in and keep the drafts out?

Anyone know? I haven't asked anyone at the church yet.
I don't know the whole story, but an Episcopal priest told me that some churches (of all denominations) used to have assigned pews, and the "best" ones were for families who donated a lot of money to the church. These churches were the ones with doors on the pews. It is supposedly more common in the northeast than in other parts of the US.
post #11 of 838
okay my total ignorance is going to come out but why do Catholics not eat meat (is is it just like red meat?) on fridays (or is it just Good Friday?). as you can tell i'm not too informed on this.
post #12 of 838
I'm not Catholic but I asked this one before and a Catholic friend answered it-- it's a form of mourning because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. I think it's all meat and poultry except fish, but since Vatican II in the 1960s it only applies to Fridays in Lent.
post #13 of 838
It's a form of penance to not eat meat on Fridays, an inconvenience. Also an easier form of fasting. Same idea behind it. During Lent you're getting ready for Easter basically.

For me growing up, I loved Fridays in Lent. We'd go to fish frys and I could eat the shrimp basket. And to this day I love what my mother would call Friday Dinner - Kraft Dinner and a garden salad with tuna added and a dressing of mayo and lemon juice.
post #14 of 838
Quote:
I don't know the whole story, but an Episcopal priest told me that some churches (of all denominations) used to have assigned pews, and the "best" ones were for families who donated a lot of money to the church. These churches were the ones with doors on the pews. It is supposedly more common in the northeast than in other parts of the US.
Yep. We have a very old 'listed' Anglican church in the Uk that has the very same pews. They have doors and are structured in the same way described above and I was also told they were reserved for those families who gave the most money. The po' folks had to sit in the balcony.
post #15 of 838
Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Yep. We have a very old 'listed' Anglican church in the Uk that has the very same pews. They have doors and are structured in the same way described above and I was also told they were reserved for those families who gave the most money. The po' folks had to sit in the balcony.
Ah, that explains it. One I sat in a few Sunday's ago had a little jump seat built into the door. I guess the family was too big to all fit on the pews, so a little one had to use that seat.
post #16 of 838
http://www.annunciationgoc.com/worship03a.htm
That is the fasting "rule" for Eastern Orthodox. We fast on Wednesdays and Fridays..and consume no animal product, oil or wine.
post #17 of 838
Quote:
Originally Posted by somanythings View Post
I have one: why have I seen Jewish people cover their eyes with their hands while praying/saying a blessing?
While some Jews cover their eyes while saying Shema, you're probably thinking of the bracha (blessing) over shabbos candles; a woman lights the candles, does a kind of light-gathering thing with her hands, and then covers her eyes while she says the bracha over the candles. Then she opens her eyes. I've heard lots of midrashim/stories about this; the one most often repeated is that you cover your eyes while saying the blessing so that it's as though the light appears afterwards. You're not allowed to light the candles after the bracha, because shabbos officially begins after the bracha and you can't light candles on shabbos.

My question: I understand saying a prayer before you eat, but does anyone know why my inlaws call it "returning thanks?" I ran into this phrase again in the Left Behind books, and it still doesn't make any sense to me.
post #18 of 838
I'm LDS (Mormon) if anyone has any questions.

I have kind of silly Jewish question. Is there is significance to the shape of challah bread?
post #19 of 838
Quote:
Originally Posted by alisaterry View Post
I have kind of silly Jewish question. Is there is significance to the shape of challah bread?
Yes! I can think of lots of different reasons, though, and I'm not sure which is/are correct (or if all of them are). One of the other Jewish mammas should be able to help you out.

An LDS question: What's up with the lack of caffeine? Alcohol I understand, but what's wrong with the occasional Pepsi?
post #20 of 838
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
An LDS question: What's up with the lack of caffeine? Alcohol I understand, but what's wrong with the occasional Pepsi?
(Answers while drinking a Coke)

It's not specifically forbidden, but we have a code of health that asks us to avoid things that can be addictive or harmful. Incidentally, my DH drinks AT LEAST one caffeinated soda drink a day! We're still working on some of our eating/drinking habits.

ETA: DH said he doesn't drink it "Every" day. It's true, and I'm just as bad!
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