I have been thinking recently about the power, significance, and symbolism of using our arms, particularly our right arm or hand. I’m not sure what it is that gives this power to the way we use our arms and hands, but there is a fundamental force that comes from using them. It could be that we use our arms and hands to accomplish most of what we do in a day; they are our main tools of action. We use our arms and hands to get dressed, eat, drive, use a computer, handle objects, express ourselves, shake hands, signal to people, communicate, and do many of the things we do every day. But there is something else that makes our arms and hands powerful, especially when we raise them up. [Read more…]
This morning I was listening to the ABC News report on the incoming hurricane Ike, which is heading straight towards the Galveston/Houston area of Texas, and the forecast of widespread destruction that it is provoking. The news anchor was reporting from Galveston Island, Texas, where the brunt of the storm is said to be bearing down quickly. The reporter ended his news clip by saying that there was a rainbow directly over Galveston Island.
It is destructive times like these that cause us to reflect on God, and His place in our world. It seems like cruel irony that the rainbow was placed as a sign of the covenant that God made with man that He would not flood the earth again. But then again, that was surely a deliberate decision, that each time we witness these horrific natural events like hurricanes we remember God is still there, and that He knows our trials and tribulations (cf. Hel. 12:3). Yes, even “if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). Events like these turn us back to God, and remind us to worship Him who is the Creator of heaven and earth. It is only by obeying God’s commandments and enduring trying times such as these that we can “triumph over all [our] foes” (D&C 121:7–8): [Read more…]
A few days ago I wrote about a post I read over at Lehi’s Library which quoted a paper by Kevin Christensen in which he referenced Margaret Barker. The subject was the use of the Hebrew word/letter tau or tav, translated as “mark” in Ezekiel 9:4–6, and what it meant in Ezekiel’s day, and what it may have meant to the Nephites who also referenced it (Jacob 4:14). The conclusion was that it may have referred to an anointing that the high priests received on their foreheads, having literally taken upon themselves the name of God. I was curious to investigate the Hebrew word/letter tav more, which I did, and I want to share some of the intriguing things I discovered.
A small disclaimer. I am most definitely an amateur when it comes to Hebrew, so any insights I might gather should be taken with a grain of salt. Perhaps someone with greater expertise can make a greater inquiry into this particular subject. These are just some of my observations as I’m learning. [Read more…]
I was thinking yesterday that there might be more to the common saying “asking for her hand in marriage.” Doing a few searches and I found that some believe it comes from a medieval ritual known as handfasting. Today it has been adopted by certain Neopagan groups as part of their engagement or marriage rituals, but it has a history which dates back to the Middle Ages in the Christian context, and is certainly much more ancient still. Apparently this practice has fallen out of usage and been lost among most of mainstream Christianity, except in Eastern Orthodoxy.
The modern handfasting ritual typically consists of tying the right hands of the couple to be betrothed or wed with a ribbon or cord while the couples exchange their vows. This is also probably the origin of the common phrase, “tying the knot.” In some cases, all four hands are tied together to make a figure 8 when viewed from above, the symbol of infinity or eternity (as in the photo on the right).
There is a good treatment on the history of Medieval handfasting on MedievalScotland.org, in which the author quotes from A.E. Anton:
Among the people who came to inhabit Northumbria and the Lothians, as well as among other Germanic peoples, the nuptials were completed in two distinct phases. There was first the betrothal ceremony and later the giving-away of the wife to the husband. The betrothal ceremony was called the beweddung in Anglo-Saxon because in it the future husband gave weds or sureties to the woman’s relatives, initially for payment to them of a suitable price for his bride but later for payment to her of suitable dower and morning-gift. The parties plighted their troth and the contract was sealed, like any other contract, by a hand-shake. This joining of hands was called a handfæstung in Anglo-Saxon, and the same word is found in different forms in the German, Swedish and Danish languages. In each it means a pledge by the giving of the hand. …. [Read more…]
Some more tidbits of information from Wells’ The Oxford Degree Ceremonies that might interest you:
- The oath or charge to “observe the ‘statutes, privileges, customs and liberties’ of his university” and the accompanying affirmation “Do fidem” (“I swear”) are most likely over 700 years old, and initially were important to keep a unity among those who had subscribed to the university, and to keep out encroachments.
- The M.A.s are “exempt from Proctorial jurisdiction…” and “It is the M.A. who is admitted by the Vice-Chancellor to ‘begin’, i.e. to teach (ad incipiendum), when he is presented to him,” and many universities now call the end of the academic study “Commencement” because of this.
- A degree is a “‘step’ by which the distinction of becoming a full member” of the university is acquired. Wells notes Gibbon’s idea that “the use of academical degrees is visibly borrowed from the mechanic corporations, in which an apprentice, after serving his time, obtains a testimonial of his skill, and his license to practise his trade or mystery.” [Read more…]