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Christianity and prostrations
Robert Aitken (a Buddhist Zen master) has called Christian genuflections "a kind of abbreviated prostration." Is this view shared by any Christians or is it something overlayed and alien? In addition, the referenced Aitken articles makes reference to the use of prostrations in Christian ordination services. Can anyone provide an additional source for this observation? Thanks! LarryR 18:09, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
- Well, had I dug a little further in Wikipedia, I would have found the picture of Catholic deacon candidates prostrating themselves in the WP Holy Order article. Good enough for me. LarryR 04:21, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
Although I'm Jewish (keeping halakha according to Mishneh Torah, I attended a Roman Catholic school for 5 years growing up. Any time we would enter the church we were required to genuflect in adoration of the "Host" before sitting. What we were taught to do is to kneel onto one knee, with the other knee bent, and do the sign of the cross. I'm not sure but we might were instructed to slightly bow while doing the sign. In any case, I really don't think that this is what's usually understood by the word prostration. Prostration generally means either all out full prostration with the entire body flat on the floor (like the picture you mention on the Holy Order article, or bringing the face to the ground or very very close to the ground in some other manner. Genuflection is certainly a type of kneeling... and maybe could be called a type of bow... but prostration it is not. The picture on the Holy Order article is not a common practice among Roman Catholics -- although Roman Catholics certainly kneel very often during their regular prayers. As I've learned from Wikipedia, prostration is more common (though still not so often practiced) among Eastern Orthodox Christians, see the Zemnoy poklon article. I can also testify from experience (I use to be a Charismatic Christian) that although it is not an offical ritual of sorts, since Charismatic Christians are generally opposed to offical ritual ... nonetheless it is not so uncommon to see Christians in the Charismatic Movement prostrating during certain parts of their prayer services -- though any such prostrating is usually unplanned and natural expressions of their emotions in worship. Omedyashar 09:12, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Prostration and Genuflection are inverses of each other.
I would like to point out that an essential difference between "Eastern" religion and "Western" religion, generally, can be studied through what James Carey calls a ritual model of communication. I disagree with the follwing description in the first paragraph of the article:
"Major world religions employ prostration either as a means of embodying reverence for a noble person, persons or doctrine, or as an act of submissiveness to a supreme being or beings (i.e. God or Gods). Within various cultures and traditions, prostrations are similarly used to show respect to civil authorities and more accomplished masters."
Without re-articulating all of what Carey says (you can read ch. 1 of Communication as Culture for his distinction between "transmissive" and "ritual" models of communication), I would suggest that genuflection, though it may have similar roots in scope as prostration, is at least nowadays practiced as a symbol, objectifying and thus weakening the ritual. Prostration is concrete engagement, whereas genuflection is easy and insulated. Joseph Campbell says in several sources that this is in fact where Western religions fail--they become to conceptual, their rituals are too easy.
So I do not agree with the current wiki description in the first paragraph of the article because it makes prostration about the product--an act of reverence or submissiveness toward something else. Instead, prostration is about the PROCESS, not the end product. It's a process through which one reaffirms their bond between mind and body, the process of this struggle to understand the connection. Talking about it as reverence for a spiritual being "out there" is contrary to prostration. It is what our Western minds would see it as, and is in fact what genuflection is.
For the record, I was raised Catholic.
- Aitken (2002).
- Aitken,Robert (2002). "Formal Practice: Buddhist or Christian" in Buddhist-Christian Studies (2002), Vol. 22, pp. 63-76. Available on-line at: http://www.thezensite.com/zen%20essays/FormalPracticeBuddhistorChristian.htm.
I find it mildly frustrating that searching 'prostrate' redirects directly to 'prostration' and has no disambiguation page for those looking for the organ. Sorry. Thanks for listening. The Head Baka (talk) 20:29, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Needs cross-reference to medical meaning or disambiguation page
Needs cross-reference to a medical meaning or disambiguation page, e.g.
(which presently redirects to "Heat illness".