I've always assumed it was a kick-back from teaching kids to pray and be reverent. If a little kid has their arms folded, there's no way they're going to be messing around with stuff or poking the person next to them or anything.
This reminded me, we've been out of TSCC for over 40 years and my boys still fold their arms when the are standing in a group. The other guys have their hands in their pockets or just hanging but there are my ex-mormon boys/men with their arms folded. I remember reminding them over and over when they were little.
I have no idea but you just reminder me of a memory. I was about four yrs old. I had a friend over and we were about to pray over some food. My friend did the hands together thing, and I corrected her. My tbm mom reached over and smacked me. Hard! I didn't understand why she did that because I was always taught that it was "bad" to pray that way, always black and white with everything!! I never directed anyone's prayer stance again!
My feeling is it's just another thing to say they do different, and to each other, that they do right and everyone else does wrong.
That is one thing I just changed the other day. I had been thinking about it and brought it up right before the dinner prayer. I said "how about if we start holding hands during the prayer honey since that is what you did with your family when you were a child?" He thought about it and said "well, ok!" And now if is not like the Morg. Thank God. Literally.
I just looked it up on askamormon and she had answered someone that she never realized that folks of other faiths didn't use the arms folded position. Never saw the hands folded/steeple position? Go figure.
(Btw, askamormon officially does not know the origin of the arms folded over the chest thing.)
My mom was in nursing school, and they made a big deal about not letting any of the student nurses stand or sit anywhere with the arms folded. Folded arms, the teachers said, was the body language for "Don't approach me, go away." They were supposed to look friendly and approachable. NEVER informal, but amiable I guess.
I've been wondering the same thing! Mormons are the ONLY people I have seen pray this way. Here in the south it's usually just bow your head and/or everyone holds hands together in a circle. Whenever I see a group of them standing with their arms clenched together it looks so closed off and weird.
The other day my two year old was holding his elbows and swinging his arms side to side, rocking an imaginary baby, and my tbm mil asked him if he was being reverent! I could have swung at her. Good thing my husband is on the same "wtf?!" page as I am. Ugh, yea, my toddler is being reverent for someone else's religion, now lemme just go throw up for a minute as I've been overwhelmed by the egocentric idiocy again -_-'
I agree 100% that it's just something they do as a cultic collective to feel different and therefor superior. puuuuuke
It's one of the things that really irritated me back in my Mo days. I have a suspicion that Mormonism did NOT begin with praying in this way, but that it was something that came along sometime more recently. Unfortunately I don't have solid documentation to back this up yet.
I fgigured it was some sort of frontier custom. I tried to avoid it as well as I could and keep folding my hands. I would also avoided it by holding DWs hand. BTW, I suspect that if one looked, the arms would all be folded the same way instead of the natural left v right-handedness. It is one sure way of knowing if someone is a TBM.
haha.....I never noticed the L and R folding pattern. I'm guessing that comes from children taking instruction from someone facing them. The whole thing probably started when a teacher got tired of kids poking and hitting each other. The adults all started doing it to set an example for the kids, and now everyone does it.
Remember the little ditty about 'we fold our arms and bow our heads, and listen while the prayer is said' ?
Actually, I always fold mine "backwards" (left-handed). I didn't used to, as a kid, but at some point I was really bored during a long sacrament prayer and needed to wiggle. I switched my arms, realized the other way was SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE, and did it ever since. But it's something I was always conscious of, especially when sitting side-by-side with someone and my fingers would touch their fingers instead of their elbow.
I never thought of it as me being taught to fold them the wrong way in church, but you're probably right.
The other day my husband told our kids to fold their arms for the blessing. My father over-heard him and said that is the way that the Masons pray, with their arms folded. So maybe this is another thing Joseph Smith took from them.
In Europe. pretzels have been assciated with the Lenten Season. (the six weeks before Easter) since the 7th century. Monks in monasteries are credited with twisting the now familiar pretzel shape to represent arms folded in prayer, which was the then-current posture for prayer. However the arms were crossed over the chest, with the fingertips almost touching the shoulders, not the Mormon habit of crossing the arms over the belly. I bake these treats for my Sunday School class at the beginning of Lent every year and explain to them the significance.
Forty years or so ago, I was taught this song at church, and the hand motions for the song were folding your arms. So it was a taught thing, not just a subtle culturally learned thing back when this song was sung a lot.
Do you suppose JS had his eyes closed during the "first vision?" Actually, it's probably pretty likely. :)
My exit out of TSCC coincided with the rest of my TBM family. I'm one of the rare and lucky ones that didn't have to suffer the fate of going it alone. I remember my dad questioning the folding of arms, bowing of heads and clinching of eyes early on. His position was, "Clenching up your body by folding your arms, scrunching your eyes and bowing your head is the same position that severely mentally distrubed people take on when they talk to the 'demons' in their head. If I'm seeking something from beyond, I want my eyes open to see it if it comes."
Of course, my dad and I love to poke our TBM extended family at every get-together with them. I have a TBM uncle whose first question every Thanksgiving is, "So, what is your calling these days?" I always answer the same..."I'm the Stake Contrarian." I don't think he thinks it's funny. :)
I haven't prayed in years, but when I'm in a group that does, my stance is pretty simple. If I'm wearing a hat, I remove it (mostly out of respect for the believers in the crowd), then I fidget with it while staring at my feet until the prayer is over. Never fold my arms. Never close my eyes. Only say "amen" if I agree with the sentiment of the prayer. If it gets all TBM about prophets and thankfulness for our knowledge of the gospel, etc., I just put my hat back on at the end. If it's a prayer of humility, asking to bless our armed forces or the food we're about to eat, I'll say, "amen."
I never thought about the postures different religions adopt when they pray. But on a side note, lately I've been getting a lot of comments from people when I fold my arms (it's an instinct when I'm trying to think) that I look really defensive. Which is interesting, because I'm not trying to appear defensive, it's just that folding my arms seems natural.
Folding arms to pray was normal for all non conformist Christian groups in the early 1800. So figures that Mormons would do it. There are pictures of Quakers, etc praying in this way....just google Quakers prayer in images to see old meeting sketches.
Good question. I never adopted it as manditory. After primary I started opening my eyes and holding my hands most of the time, though I would occasionally fold my arms out of habbit when around large groups of mormons. I always assumed it was a method of calming kids down durring prayer that just stuck with most folks into adulthood.
On a side note I always thought it was funny to look around and watch peoples facial expressions while prayers were being said. It was even more entertaining to lock eyes with another person durring the prayer. Some people acted like they were guilty of some crime and shut thier eyes and bowed thier heads real fast. Others seem to have felt validated and kinda winked and nodded. My favorite example was on my mission where a particular high council member always had his eyes wide open and hands clasped looking out on the crowd head held high. We actually got along well after we realized we were among the few to attend that stake that had a different prayer stance. lol
In my work I am involve in a lot of consultation with various tribes and federal agencies. Even if the feds call these meetings, they are never held in a gov building as the tribes like to start off with a prayer in their native language.
How do they pray? Standing in a circle with your hands held behind your back. Actually a comfortable stance.