Why Bowed Heads, Folded Hands, and Closed Eyes?

"In 'American fundamentalist worship' we consider reverence the defining characteristic of what we do, but I wonder if, in our hearts, we are truly as reverent as we think we are." - Proclaim and Defend

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Bert Perry's picture

Hope to see more like this from everyone.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

Re: Russian Baptists
After 29 years of ministering to the emigre Russian Baptist community, I found out one of the bones they have to pick with American Baptists is that we sit when we pray. In fact, that’s why I can no longer watch the BJU movie The Printing. The family sat when they said grace at the dinner table instead of standing.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

G. N. Barkman's picture

You can't watch the movie because the family sat during prayer?  That seem a bit extreme.

G. N. Barkman

John E.'s picture

... and to risk derailing this conversation ...

I have a hang up about geography in movies and TV shows. If a show is supposed to take place in Kentucky, for example, but is obviously filmed in California, I can't watch it. It's too distracting. As much as I love The Office, the scenes where they are driving through "Scranton" are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. So, while I don't share Rob's particular hangup that prevents him from suspending disbelief, I empathize. 

Bert Perry's picture

The word picture that comes to mind for me is Larry Bird in a starring role in a movie about the Harlem Globetrotters.  :^)

But seriously, Rob's comment does illustrate something very significant appropriate to this article; that when certain expressions of piety are culturally instead of Biblically defined, we can get caught in our own culture instead of learning to truly praise God.  To cite another movie with serious errors in setting, specifically the growing of maize in Ukraine, think of "Tradition!" in Fiddler On The Roof--where of course the Shabbat prayers are also delivered standing up.  

I personally believe that there is something to be said for all of this--closing of the eyes, folding of the hands, bowing of the head, standing--but forget the why, and it's just empty tradition, and the New Testament has quite a bit to say about that.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

Yes, because the more hardcore Russians I know question the salvation of Americans because we sit during prayer. Keep in mind, Russian Evangelical Christian-Baptists do not come out of the Anglo-American Baptist tradition. It's the kind of error I thought BJ wouldn't make. Also, the soundtrack is BJ not Russian. When I first saw the movie I had no problems. The problems developed after I spent time ministering in the Russian EC-B community in Metro-Sacramento.

G. N. Barkman wrote:

You can't watch the movie because the family sat during prayer?  That seem a bit extreme.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Larry's picture

Moderator

 It's the kind of error I thought BJ wouldn't make.

You should remember that the film was made with consultation of Russian Christians after a great amount of traveling in Russia and visiting these churches. It might be that your view of Russian Christians during that time was a bit narrow.

Bert Perry's picture

It could be that Rob's experience of Russian Christians is narrow--I'll make a point of asking a Russian family at my church for their perspective, just for fun.  (though of course their experience isn't necessarily any more normative than Rob's)  For reference, though, here's a bit on why Orthodox Christians stand during services, and of course, again, there is that scene from Fiddler on the Roof.   So at least somebody appears to agree with Rob.

And a side note; closer to "our" traditions, the Pilgrims stood during services.  Maybe our tribes have just gotten lazy?

On the flip side, let's remember that The Printing came out in 1990, over a year before Russians got their best Christmas present for at least 75 years with the fall of the Soviet Union.  Research for the film would have been done while the Berlin Wall was still standing, and hence the people that BJU was working with would have had some very strong reasons that they would NOT want the KGB to know the melodies and lyrics to their hymns, nor would they want to be immediately recognizable as evangelical believers by the way in which they prayed.  

So if I were in that camp at that time, a little bit of cultural inaccuracy would seem to be a small price to pay for NOT getting an all expenses paid trip to Siberia!  For what it's worth, here's a review.  Yes, it's savage, but the worst ratings are exactly what Rob notes.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

As I understand the situation, the Georgi Vins family was the main source. As they lived in Indiana at the time. However, they only looked at the script and were not on the set.

As for narrow, the pre-breakup EC-Bs were fairly uniform whether registered or underground. I've attended churches from both streams. And nobody sits. 

 

Bert Perry wrote:

It could be that Rob's experience of Russian Christians is narrow--I'll make a point of asking a Russian family at my church for their perspective, just for fun.  (though of course, their experience isn't necessarily any more normative than Rob's)  For reference, though, here's a bit on why Orthodox Christians stand during services, and of course, again, there is that scene from Fiddler on the Roof.   So at least somebody appears to agree with Rob.

SNIP

On the flip side, let's remember that The Printing came out in 1990, over a year before Russians got their best Christmas present for at least 75 years with the fall of the Soviet Union.  Research for the film would have been done while the Berlin Wall was still standing, and hence the people that BJU was working with would have had some very strong reasons that they would NOT want the KGB to know the melodies and lyrics to their hymns, nor would they want to be immediately recognizable as evangelical believers by the way in which they prayed.  

SNIP

Hoping to shed more light than heat..