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Foot Washing - A Chinese Passion

Discussion in 'Podiatry Trivia' started by Mark Russell, Dec 16, 2006.

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    BBC Broacast 16/12/06
    What is your antidote to a frantic day's Christmas shopping? In China, one of the de-stressing options available to rich and poor alike is to go for a foot wash.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2006
  2. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    Foot washing is a custom found all over the world

    In Biblical times when shoes were made from animal skins these were difficult to clean. This may explain why shoes came to represent to the agricultural societies of the Old Testament, all that was unclean. The emblems of filth were left outside homes and considered quite unsuitable for holy places. Feet encased in footwear required to be purified and this responsibility usually fell to the lowest house servant. Baring feet signified the status of an honored guest. Washing feet put them at ease and comfort, and kept the floors, clean. Foot washing was viewed as an honor or service and became a common Jewish custom and at formal banquets. This took place either on arrival or before the feast.

    It was at the most famous Feast of the Passover, or last supper, Jesus dramatically subverted the symbolism by washing his disciples feet.

    '(He) rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin , and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel which he was girded.'
    John 13: 4,5

    'I have done this to give you an example of something that you should do.'

    Christ's action has been generally interpreted as a demonstration that service rather than status would represent greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven. Also by this action he prepared his disciples (and their converts) to walk in the path of righteousness.

    'If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example , that ye should do as I have done to you.'
    John 13: 14,15

    Christians later adopted the Hebrew footwashing ceremony and in some demoninations this is considered as one of the three ordinances (sacrament) i.e. baptism, the Lord's Supper, and footwashing. Footwashing acts as a renewal of baptism and commitment to living God's way of life.

    Ceremonially, rolling out of the Red Carpet metaphorically represents the following the path of righteousness.

    'your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.'
    Psalms 119: 105 NIV

    In the Old Testament nimble footedness was an image applied to a life of righteousness and obedience to God. Fleet of foot metaphorically guaranteed treading the path of righteousness and giving thanks to God for sure footedness was accepted. This meant there was value given to feet being ambulant.

    'Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.'
    Ps 17:5

    God's providence was said to guard the feet of his saints.

    'He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for the strength shall no man prevail.'
    1 Sam 2:9

    The feet of the faithful, were also the concern of the Lord.

    'They shall bear thee up in their hands , lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.'
    Psalms 91: 13-15

    Reference was made to the path as well was as walking on level ground.

    'My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the Lord.'
    Ps 26:12

    'Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.'
    Prov 4:26

    'And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way ; but let it rather be healed.'
    Heb 12:13

    Open blessing were requested in prayers that feet would not stray.

    'Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way.'
    Ps 44:18

    'I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.'
    Ps 119:101

    'An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.'
    Prov 6:18

    Nor rush into sin.

    'He that is`ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.'
    Job 12:5

    'Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.'
    Ps 36:11

    'For thou has delivered my soul from death : wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?'
    Ps 56: 13

    'For thy feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.'
    Prov 1:16

    'Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity ; wasting and destruction are in their paths.'
    Is 59: 7

    'They have loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them ;'
    Jer 14:10

    In the New Testament feet were not, by themselves, endearing. They were but an integral part of the human body of no more or less importance than any other. However it would be accurate to note the feet were used as a metaphor in the Holy Scriptures more frequently than other parts of the body.

    'If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body ; is it therefore not of the body?'
    1 Cor 12:15

    'And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee : nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.'
    1 Cor 12:21

    Strong emphasis was placed on the strength of feet to spread the gospel.

    'The Messiah will guide feet into the way of peace.'
    Luke 1:79

    When the message was rejected the bearers of the gospel were to shake the dust off their feet as a sign of protest and refuse to have anything to do with the place.

    'And whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of the house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.'
    Matthew 10:14

    'But they shook off the dust of their feet against them , and came unto Iconium.'
    Acts 13: 51

    Foot washing is still practiced in one form or other throughout the world on the Thursday before Good Friday. Popes, religious leaders, and monarchs all have honored the commitment to faith and humanity. The ceremony was often accompanied with the distribution of alms in the form of food and drink, cloth and money. In the UK, up until 1689, during the reign of William & Mary, the reigning monarchs personally washed the feet of the selected poor. Foot cleaning was however replaced by specially minted coins, called Munday Money. To this day the custom is still celebrated on the day before Good Friday. The reigning monarch distributes specially minted money to the poor. A man and woman to represent each year of the monarch's life are chosen and given the special coins in a church. The specially minted coinage is worth much more than its face value.

    Proskunew describes a Persian custom which involved kneeling and putting the face to the ground. This sometimes involved kissing the ground. Taken as the act of submission, respect, gratitude, supplication, neediness, and humility. This was used on all sorts of occasions. Thought to have originated as a non-verbal greeting where men of equal rank would kiss each other on the lips. An inferior kissed his superior on the cheeks, and where one was much less noble rank than the other, he fell to the ground in homage. Considered to have become ritualized at the oriental courts, depending on rank, visitors would prostrate themselves, kneel in front of, bow for, or blow a kiss to the king. There may have been practical reasons for blowing a kiss as halitosis was thought to be common. Magicians would use the same technique in order to prevent contamination of the sacred fire. Alexander the Great (327) spread his empire to incorporate others and naturally took Iranians to serve at his court. To win his or her respect and support he had to act like a Persian king, and ordered everybody to behave according to the oriental court ritual. The court custom, caused consternation amongst the Greeks as prostration, bowing or kneeling, to anyone other than the Gods was unacceptable. Despite violent opposition it is not clear whether Alexander the Great's attempt at cultural infliction, succeeded. However, proskynesis was commonly practiced at the courts of his successors and remnants remain today occidentals, still bow for kings and queens. Bt the time of the Old Testament the custom had passed in judicial behaviour and when an accused was brought before the judge , he lay prostate. If found guilty, the judge would place his foot on their neck. If innocent the judge would stoop over and lift their face with his hand. Lifting the face was a Hebrew concept, which equalled a declaration of innocence in a judicial, proceeding. When Muslims bow towards Mecca this is another reference to proskynesis and by contrast the posture of early Christian worship. was standing. According to Brasch (1989), kissing the feet was a gesture of homage and deference, far removed from its erotic roots. Millions of pilgrims with loving pressure have worn down the feet of the statue of Saint Paul in Rome with their lips. At the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire it was the custom for the faithful to kiss the right hand of the Papal Father. In the eighth century, a rather passionate woman took liberties and according to legend, the Pope cut off his hand in disgust. The custom of kissing the Pope's right foot was adapted as more appropriate. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) had kings and churchmen kiss his feet. Today the act of homage involves kissing the PontiffÕs right shoe. Lips are aimed at the cross-depicted on the shoe. This is either taken as a tribute to his authority or the simulation of servitude.

    >The apparent loucheness of the situation brought out all my British reserve.

    Sir, you do not know what you are missiong and what's you dont know your history. Shame on you BBC.


    Hey, what do I know?
  3. mahtay2000

    mahtay2000 Banya Bagus Makan Man

    As usual Cameron, still waters run deep!
    You never cease to amaze me with your scripture quotes-maybe you should accompany Bono when he is meeting with US Senator Jesse Helms!
    Happy Christmas/Hanuka/Festivus!

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