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Author Topic: Head coverings and you.  (Read 22074 times) Average Rating: 0
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Myrrh23
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« on: October 30, 2008, 10:38:50 PM »

Hey Guys!

I was wondering how you think you change when you go to Church and see a woman wearing a head-covering, and when you leave Church and see women with their heads bare? Is there any change in your perceptions or feelings? Is it easier for you to drop pretense with a person having their head covered as opposed to uncovered? This is all out of curiosity. Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2008, 10:41:10 PM »

Personally for me no. But then again my yaya (grandmother mostly used to wear head coverings in everyday situations.
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2008, 10:47:02 PM »

I sort of like the traditionality of head coverings, but it doesn't matter much to me either way. Fwiw, my wife doesn't wear one because no one at our Church wears one, and that's fine with me.
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2008, 10:53:48 PM »

My eldest daughter's godmother always wears headcoverings. I wear them (and have my daughters wear them) whenever we go to church. But specifically when they have the Eucharist they wear them. I wear them on occassion when out and about. But in general I don't wear them outside of church services. As soon as services are over I take it off. Chasing three kids around is hot sweaty work, and the headcovering makes me really hot.
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2008, 11:26:01 PM »

I think that head coverings on women are very beautiful in their own way.  It helps me to focus less on the women during the liturgy and more on the beauty of God.  I think that it is a very considerate and loving gesture on the their part.  All in all I deeply respect the women who wear them during services because it shows a desire to move away from fashionability and personal expression in the church setting.

Just my two cents though.
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2008, 11:54:25 PM »

I think that head coverings on women are very beautiful in their own way.  It helps me to focus less on the women during the liturgy and more on the beauty of God.  I think that it is a very considerate and loving gesture on the their part.  All in all I deeply respect the women who wear them during services because it shows a desire to move away from fashionability and personal expression in the church setting.

Just my two cents though.
I feel the same way, but like Aristokles, I'm not bothered if women choose not to. 
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Myrrh23
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2008, 12:18:32 PM »

Aww, I was hoping more people would be engaging about this subject...
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2008, 05:47:30 PM »

Doesn't matter to me. My wife never wears any head coverings, even in church. This past summer, when we were in Ukraine and went to church there, she felt embarassed because all other women were wearing head coverings, even very young girls in tight jeans and high heels and tons of fancy makeup. Her cousin graciously gave her a pretty, thin, almost transparent handkerchief to cover her hair, and that made her calm down.
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2008, 06:22:49 PM »

I'm indifferent to whether a woman wears a head covering or not.
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2008, 08:13:19 PM »

DIXIT MYRRH23.  Is there any change in your perceptions or feelings?
DICO.  In established parishes, such as my adolescent Free Methodist church, head-coverings were normal.  In some parishes I have been to, women who wear head-coverings are rather more than likely to make long confessions, go on pilgrimages to the nearest (or farthest) monasteries, home-school their chilluns, wear long dresses and speak really softly.  So maybe head-coverings can be a counter-culture statement made by people who in an earlier era would have been hippies.  Please consider the anecdotality of this observation seriously.  A serious survey would be nice.
DIXI.  DanM
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2008, 10:00:48 PM »

Myrrh, did you create this thread for mostly male opinion (you use the term "guys", and mostly men are responding- therefore I wonder...)?

In my childhood and young adult life, it was the norm for women to cover their heads all the time. My mother didn't have to do so, but she did anyhow. To this day she always wears a headscarf.

For myself, it was a very traumatic decision to stop covering my head all the time. I felt a great deal of guilt about this initially, and really wished the Orthodox Church would require its women to cover all the time. It was always sad for me to see the women removing their scarves from their heads immediately after service (I still usually keep mine on during trapeza and spiritual discussions).


However, I've become used to only covering for church services and private prayer now. Almost everyone at my parish covers their head for services, not because they are part of some "homeschooling movement", but because many of them have recently arrived from eastern europe. The women from the two main earlier immigration waves are more prone to wear hats, rather than scarves.

We have good and strict order in our parish and the priests' wives all set a good example in headcovering. I've heard several of the men complaining if they see women in church without a headcovering on their heads.

There have been a couple occasions when I forgot to cover my head upon entering the church and some woman would come up to me and point out that fact. I'm grateful for their diligence!

I have on occasion brought non-Orthodox male friends to church with me and they all commented on the headscarves and said how beautiful they were!
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Myrrh23
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2008, 02:13:39 PM »

I wrote it for everyone, but part of the reason why I wrote it is because I was thinking about wearing a headcovering outside of Mass...I dunno. Undecided
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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2008, 02:28:08 PM »

Myrrh, I have often wondered what to do about this as well. I have discussed this issue with my priest and we read together 1 Corinthians 11 which deals with the woman's headcovering, and he gave me his blessing to wear it all the time, if I so desire. I am still open to the idea and, am not adverse to taking up the custom again. As it is, I often wear some sort of hat on my head when I go out, just because it seems a feminine and pretty thing to do. However, I realize that is not a very noble or "spiritual" reason, like doing so to glorify God would be.

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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2008, 03:50:37 PM »

We read together 1 Corinthians 11 which deals with the woman's headcovering.

My recollection is that face-painting and bared-hair were signs of looseness in the Greco-Roman world.  I think that it would be worth your while to research the culture of the times in order to situate the relevance of his directions.  E.g., someone has pointed out that proper women did their hair up in public and in worship services, whereas in ecstatic cults they tended to wear their hair down.  Paul then would be asking the Corinthians to keep their hair up and their veils on as a sign of conformity to "proper" religious behavior.  Whether this is so deserves research.  If it is, then one may ask whether not wearing veils is still understood as a signal of looseness.
OTOH, St. John Chrysostom as usual comes straight to the point:  "Being covered is a mark of subjection and authority."  I do not deny that it was so in ancient society, if he says so, but I do not believe that being covered is now so construed.  Anyhow, in an age in which women are reading the epistles, it does not seem meaningful to me to worry about veils.   
DanM

PS.  In some parts of America, "guys" is common gender. 

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« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2008, 03:51:14 PM »

Thank God we live in country that allows freedom of choice on this matter. I feel for all the poor Muslim women in fundamentalist countries who have NO choice on this issue and on many other daily issues. And for those who say the veil offers women protection from leering or perverse men, you should read the articles written on the BBC about Egyptian women and girls, who even though they wear the niqab, are still assaulted by men. In other words, the veil offers them no protection.
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2008, 04:09:55 PM »

I find it personally a great honour as a woman to be able to cover my head in church and to belong to a Church which still maintains this biblical tradition-in fact, it was something that drew me to the Church. I see no shame in it whatsoever-only the pleasure and blessing received in obedience!

Actually it is only in the very recent past that women generally  have stopped covering their heads for church.
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« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2008, 05:55:54 PM »

I liked Deacon Amde's perspective on the subject, in this recent thread (reply #33):

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,17124.msg248030.html#msg248030
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« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2008, 08:18:35 PM »

I liked Deacon Amde's perspective on the subject, in this recent thread (reply #33):

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,17124.msg248030.html#msg248030

I completely agree with you, Salpy! Deacon Amde's post was one of my all-time favourites. Very encouraging and inspiring!
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2008, 08:23:20 PM »

Here in US, I've noticed differences between jurisdictions as far as how many women cover their heads. In some very traditional Slavic churches, it appears that many women cover their heads. But I've never seen this in a church of the Greek Archdiocese of America.

Does this situation just exist in the US, or does the head covering practices differ from country to country?

Secondly, is there some sort of requirement as to what the head scarf should look like or cover? For example, when my parents were growing up in the Catholic Church, women covered their heads with a lace mantilla. Would this pass muster in a traditional Orthodox church?

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« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2008, 08:46:26 PM »

I live in an area that has a high concentration of Eastern Orthodox Churches and most of the women in almost everyone that I have been in doesn't cover their heads.  If they do they wear hats.  Only a small fraction cover their heads. 
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« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2008, 10:11:05 PM »

Only once so far have I seen a woman wearing a headcovering in an Orthodox church.  That particular church is Greek Orthodox, but has Slavic Orthodox believers as well.  Headcoverings just are not a part of the church culture in this area: I've never seen it in the Protestant or Catholic churches I've been to.  It was a great relief not to have to wear a headcovering when I started going to the local Greek Orthodox church.  It's enough of a culture shock being the only non-Greek convert there who didn't marry a Greek!
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« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2008, 02:05:33 AM »

I am honestly curious as to why some women see this practice as cumbersome?  Is it because most women in the United States do not believe that men have headship over them?  This view is certainly unpopular and I think that it is being abandoned by many Orthodox women in favor of modern feminist perspectives.

Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?
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« Reply #22 on: November 07, 2008, 02:07:27 AM »

Quote
Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?

In every Orthodox Church that I've been to, except one (a ROCOR parish), the men and women intermingled.
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« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2008, 02:18:27 AM »

In every Orthodox Church that I've been to, except one (a ROCOR parish), the men and women intermingled.

I have to ask, why are all of the practices being abandoned?  Aren't the Orthodox worried about abandoning their rituals which make them distinct?  These traditions have been handed down with everything else.  Why are they being abandoned altogether?

I might sound a bit paranoid, but I'm getting ready to make my catechumen vows soon and it seems like the Orthodox church is kind of losing its identity in the USA, as about half of the members are converts.  It just seems like the converts try to come in and dictate what's "kosher" and what's "got to go."

I feel like some Old Calendar Traditionalist and I'm not even a catechumen yet... Never mind the fact that I'm only 26 and should be sporting more "liberal" views.  But it is the consistency with the ancient Church that has drawn me in.
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« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2008, 02:48:30 AM »

But it is the consistency with the ancient Church that has drawn me in.

That consistency with the ancient Church is still there.  What else are you expecting?   Huh
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« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2008, 02:50:44 AM »

In most Oriental Orthodox Churches, the men and women stand separately.  In Armenian parishes today, however, men and women intermingle.  At least that is how it is here in the U.S.  My mom says though, that when she was a kid women and men stood separately.

I think the old way is better, as there are no distractions.  At my parish, men have actually tried to ask me out during the liturgy.  I'll be there praying, with my head covered, and a guy will come up to me and ask me out to lunch after church.  This has happened more than once.  I mean no disrespect to the guys on this forum, as I'm sure none of you would ever do this, but I'm all in favor of separating the sexes during the liturgy.  If you herd all the men together and stick them on one side of the church, the women can pray in peace.
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« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2008, 03:25:48 AM »

That consistency with the ancient Church is still there.  What else are you expecting?

I should be more clear.  I just meant that things that have been handed down for 2000 years don't seem like they should just be thrown so suddenly.  If it is supposed to be some sort of concession to the modern world or to make converts more comfortable, I can assure you that no outsider will ever be appeased.  Beardless clergy do not make the clerics more respectable to non-Orthodox.  Doing away with head coverings will not make people outside of the church accept it more.

Just look at the way that the world feels about the Catholic church.  Even after so very many "updates", no modern person really respects them or their views.  Only wholesale conformity to whoever the critic is will win their respect.  And even then they might just wind up criticizing your enthusiastic conformity to trends around you.  Really I just don't see how appeasement of popular culture can take precedence over such a long standing tradition.

To stop sounding like an ultra-traditionalist for a minute, I thought that I would interject another view that I've come to about all of this (head coverings, et cetera).

A woman has constant pressure on her in modern American society to be thin, attractive, and beautiful.  Many women spend a lot of their free time reading magazines that are entirely superficial and focused on their appearance.  They are constantly sexualized.  So if the church is truly supposed to be a sanctuary from the world, can't a woman be free from all of these concerns while she is there?  I think that modest dress and head coverings might be able to provide that for a woman; an escape from the pressures they always face everywhere else.  Forget about the damn makeup and the heels.  Forget about your hair and your color coordination.  Come to the liturgy and be free.  Be bare and humble before God.

It also is a way to show love, consideration, and respect for the men attending the liturgy.  If the women are modestly dressed, then they are not distracting the men from their worship of God by their beauty.  One of my evening confessions in my prayer book reads something to the effect of "If I have seen the beauty of another, and been wounded thereby in my heart, forgive me."  To remove or reduce a man's ability to be stolen by a woman's beauty is a rare retreat for the male mind in our hyper-sexual culture.  Parts of the liturgy talk about laying down your earthly cares.  The modesty and consideration of the women helps this for themselves because it can also do away with a "fashion competition" between the women.  When getting dressed for liturgy they will not be concerned about whether or not their outfit will be as pretty as another woman's.

These are all just things that I have considered when thinking about head coverings.  I hope that some of it seems insightful.  If any of it seems thoughtless or chauvinistic, then please forgive me, an arrogant sinner.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for the dignity of my Christian sisters.
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« Reply #27 on: November 07, 2008, 03:32:49 AM »

Quote
I have to ask, why are all of the practices being abandoned?  Aren't the Orthodox worried about abandoning their rituals which make them distinct?  These traditions have been handed down with everything else.  Why are they being abandoned altogether? I might sound a bit paranoid, but I'm getting ready to make my catechumen vows soon and it seems like the Orthodox church is kind of losing its identity in the USA, as about half of the members are converts.  It just seems like the converts try to come in and dictate that's "kosher" and what's "got to go." I feel like some Old Calendar Traditionalist and I'm not even a catechumen yet... Never mind the fact that I'm only 26 and should be sporting more "liberal" views.  But it is the consistency with the ancient Church that has drawn me in.

I don't think it's a convert vs. cradle thing. I think part of the problem is that things like men/women standing on either side of the Church is seen as a "little t tradition," and therefore considered to be something that can be done away with if people feel more comfortable with intermingling. I personally think this is a major danger in the whole "little t" vs. "big T" tradition argument, especially since in the early church when traditions were mentioned, they were often what would today be considered "little t" traditions (like facing east when praying). Part of me regrets these changes, because I want to maintain the more traditional approach. But another part of me knows that the faith will endure regardless, and that it's not just in the modern era that changes take place, but even in the distant past they were making changes to accommodate the people (like shortening the liturgy).
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« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2008, 03:45:36 AM »

Quote
Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?

In every Orthodox Church that I've been to, except one (a ROCOR parish), the men and women intermingled.

Not in my experience. Of all the Greek, Russian, Antiochian and Serbian churches I have attended over many years, there is minimal intermingling, or none at all, especially in the churches which have pews.

Quote
I just meant that things that have been handed down for 2000 years don't seem like they should just be thrown so suddenly.  If it is supposed to be some sort of concession to the modern world or to make converts more comfortable, I can assure you that no outsider will ever be appeased. 


Alveus, the intermingling, as small-scale as it is, that I have seen, is in parishes where you could count the converts on the fingers of one hand. It has nothing to do with "appeasing" anyone. 

Quote
Forget about the damn makeup and the heels.

I quite agree. Apart from reducing the vanity factor, there is also a great practical benefit in forgoing the makeup and heels: no lipstick smears on the icons, no barking from the priest for the woman to remove her lipstick before approaching the chalice, and I bet it is MUCH easier for a woman to stand through even a two-and-a-half-hour Vigil in flat shoes. The same goes for short skirts. Rather difficult for the ladies to do their prostrations and bows without risking disgracing themselves ...  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2008, 03:55:54 AM »

Quote
Not in my experience. Of all the Greek, Russian, Antiochian and Serbian churches I have attended over many years, there is minimal intermingling, or none at all, especially in the churches which have pews.

Well, I'm glad that that has been your experience. Smiley Fwiw (I just counted) I've been to services in 10 parishes, and only 1 had the men and women split.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2008, 03:57:12 AM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #30 on: November 07, 2008, 05:31:17 AM »

Quote
Not in my experience. Of all the Greek, Russian, Antiochian and Serbian churches I have attended over many years, there is minimal intermingling, or none at all, especially in the churches which have pews.

Well, I'm glad that that has been your experience. Smiley Fwiw (I just counted) I've been to services in 10 parishes, and only 1 had the men and women split.

Similar ratio in my experience too.  Even in several of the ROCOR parishes I've visted men & women intermingle.
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« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2008, 07:21:13 AM »

With what Alveus has explained to us, I think that peoples' neglect of not being modest and separate in Church might cause our brothers and sisters to fall. I think the Muslims know this temptation of immodesty and intermingling better than many Christians do.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2008, 07:36:39 AM by Myrrh23 » Logged

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« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2008, 08:57:06 AM »

I am honestly curious as to why some women see this practice as cumbersome?  Is it because most women in the United States do not believe that men have headship over them?  This view is certainly unpopular and I think that it is being abandoned by many Orthodox women in favor of modern feminist perspectives.

My wife - a cradle Orthodox, baptized and chrismated in an ROC parish in her infancy, albeit "lapsed," a self-proclaimed agnostic, an unbeliever, - indeed resents this custom very strongly, with all her heart (just like the custom of kissing the priest's hand). She says that it is ugly, demeaning, barbaric. Note that she is not a "feminist" in a traditional American sense - she believes that men and women are different and should not try to be copies of each other, that women must have their home and their husband and children as a priority higher than their job, etc. But still, when it comes to outward signs of female "obedience" in church, and also to the outward signs of obedience of laity to clergy, she is furious and totally dismissive.

Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?

In my small miision Greek parish, there is a clear generational difference in this regard. Older Greek men sit together, and separately from their wives, who sit next to each other in their little "older women group." Yet, younger Greeks tend to sit together, a husband next to a wife.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2008, 08:58:20 AM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #33 on: November 07, 2008, 10:40:31 AM »

Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?
In my small miision Greek parish, there is a clear generational difference in this regard. Older Greek men sit together, and separately from their wives, who sit next to each other in their little "older women group." Yet, younger Greeks tend to sit together, a husband next to a wife.

Give the younger guys some time...  Wink Cheesy
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« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2008, 02:11:46 PM »

Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?
In my small miision Greek parish, there is a clear generational difference in this regard. Older Greek men sit together, and separately from their wives, who sit next to each other in their little "older women group." Yet, younger Greeks tend to sit together, a husband next to a wife.

Give the younger guys some time...  Wink Cheesy
LMBO!!!! Cheesy Cheesy
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« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2008, 02:30:46 PM »

Just as a side note, the men in my parish sit on the right and the women on the left.  Is this common on do men usually sit on the left?
In my small miision Greek parish, there is a clear generational difference in this regard. Older Greek men sit together, and separately from their wives, who sit next to each other in their little "older women group." Yet, younger Greeks tend to sit together, a husband next to a wife.

Give the younger guys some time...  Wink Cheesy
LMBO!!!! Cheesy Cheesy

Well, I will be 51 in December, but I still sit near my wife... I'm a good actor. Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2008, 03:07:34 PM »

I am very glad that men and women aren't seperated at my parish! I would never be able to attend at all! I couldn't manage 3 kids without my husband's help, not to mention all the other men that have helped me in the past.         
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« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2008, 04:40:11 PM »

We have women standing on the left and men on the right. There is some informality regarding this,and it's not rigidly upheld, and I do often see men standing beside their wives if there are young children. However, there are often girls or women who are able to help young mothers care for their children.
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« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2008, 10:03:55 PM »

We have women standing on the left and men on the right.

I recall a passage in War and Peace in which two characters find themselves in just such an old fashioned church.  At that time my wife and I were attending the Syrian Orthodox church in Singapore and as a young couple did not like the arrangement; we started sitting outside the nave to be together with the kids; other young families followed our lead.  Now such a gender-division strikes me as advantageous (since my kids are nearly adult), though I would want young families to have a place to be in case the kiddies are being a handful.
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« Reply #39 on: November 07, 2008, 10:34:02 PM »

I thought the custom of segregation hailed from the synagogue, where, to this day, there is often segregation or a women's balcony (at least that's how it's always been at the synagogues I've attended). I think it's a really neat custom and all these discussions are making me increasingly appreciate my parish. One time I asked someone-a young man- about this tradition and he replied, "Why, naturally women would stand on the left-because that's where the Theotokos is! And men-naturally on the right-in front of the icon of Christ!"  Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: November 07, 2008, 10:39:51 PM »

Another benefiit of "segregation" is you don't have any members of the opposite sex standing near you as potential distractions...
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« Reply #41 on: November 07, 2008, 10:47:38 PM »

Yes, although even as a woman I do sometimes find myself terribly distracted by the showy outfits of (some) of the other women. Sometimes someone is wearing something so completely amazing that your mind is suddenly far from prayer... Sad I can't imagine how it must be to be a man... For the most part though, the women do dress quite modestly for services.
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« Reply #42 on: November 07, 2008, 11:24:45 PM »

Yes, although even as a woman I do sometimes find myself terribly distracted by the showy outfits of (some) of the other women. Sometimes someone is wearing something so completely amazing that your mind is suddenly far from prayer... Sad I can't imagine how it must be to be a man... For the most part though, the women do dress quite modestly for services.
LOL. I remember in the Church where I got married, there was a man who happened to come often with the same outfit I was wearing.  My ex couldn't figure out how we complimented each other on our taste: she often said how of course she couldn't stand to have another woman wearing the same dress.
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« Reply #43 on: November 07, 2008, 11:32:00 PM »

Which reminds me of something I saw on one of the women a couple weeks ago. It was a headscarf tied traditionally under the chin, but on the back was an enormous print of an icon of St. Ksenia of Petersburg!! Well...I suppose that would be considered a "good" distraction? Undecided
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« Reply #44 on: November 08, 2008, 02:24:34 AM »

Can some of our beautiful Christian sisters please explain to me how the head-coverings make you feel?  I am just trying to understand why the practice is being abandoned.  Is it degrading to some of you?  Or even if you are fine with it, would you mind explaining to me some opposing views you've heard from other women?  Thank you and peace be with you!
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Tags: yia yia proper behavior head coverings 
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