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This is a fascinating thread.

I've never said religious grace either, as I'm not religious and my family has never been - but I do also like the short moment of contemplation and consciousness..well, almost MARVELLING when you sit down at a meal and think how lucky you are and how thankful you should be.

Cheesy though it may be, my boyfriend and I have in fact developed almost a tradition, of sitting down to food, looking at it for a moment, smiling at each other, and gently fist-bumping (what Fox News might call a "terrorist fist-jab"!) before starting to eat.

This was borne out of a long-ago conversation talking about a) we're about to enjoy something delicious, and that's not something to be taken lightly, given that b) how fortunate we are to have lives where food is available, varied and abundant, when so many don't and so many of our forebears didn't, and that we should never take that value for granted. And yes, we also do it in restaurants.

That's our prayer.

That makes so much emotional sense. I think I will be adopting something similar.

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We're old school and say grace at supper, the "Bless us, Oh Lord..." I've also had our house blessed and keep a statue of St. Francis in my garden. St. Francis was the patron of my college and his feast day is also my youngest son's birthday. Traditions keep me grounded. My grandmother used to make the sign of the cross over the loaves of bread before she put them in the oven. Mom kissed us on the forehead and made a sign of the cross with her thumb, sometimes in an absent-minded manner. I've caught myself doing the same with my children.

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At family Thanksgiving dinners, there's always a pause before the meal gets underway for someone to give thanks that we're together, in good health, and with such plenty before us when others are hungry. Some guests add their thanks to God. As a grace, it isn't traditional or even terribly well choreographed but somehow it works for everyone.


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We are not a religious household, but I do like the idea of taking a moment to acknowledge the work that went into making the food, and to give thanks that we have it when others do not. I like RRO's idea of the fist bump...it's enough to keep you mindful but not too obtrusive...

My husband always (I mean always, every meal, no exception) makes it a point to give thanks to me and makes my children do the same since I do all the cooking, and I make it a point to say thanks to him for making the money that allows me to do all the cooking...I guess that counts as a ritual of thanksgiving, in a purely secular way...

If someone else wants to say grace over a meal that we eat (which doesn't happen to often amongst my friends or family, but occasionally it's come up) I try to be respectful of their beliefs and bow my head as well. But if I'm the one who did the cooking I expect to be thanked in the prayer too! :laugh:

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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In the non-denominational, but very religious, boarding school I was packed off to for my first and second years of high school, we were required to say grace for EVERY meal. I seem to recall one of the most popular being "Good bread, good meat, praise God; let's eat!" :wink:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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In the Jewish tradition, the "grace" (Birkat Hamazon) is said after the meal. This comes from Deut. 8:10 which states "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He gave you". One common sense interpretation of this is that you can get a hungry man to do or say anything.

We don't say it with every meal in our house. We typically say it on the Sabbath, especially when people are over for a meal.

Well, there's a (typically short) blessing over the food first, which varies by food. (I.e., are you blessing the fruit of the vine, the earth, etc.? Which blessing to use on which foods can be the topic of extended discussion. If you want to troll an orthodox Jew, ask them what blessing should be used on seaweed. :raz:) On the Sabbath, the blessing includes a longer blessing over the wine---but I don't know why anyone would see this much outside of a Jewish home, since travel and money are essentially prohibited on shabbat.

When my (orthodox) father goes out to eat---at a kosher restaurant, mind you---he'll "bensch" (Yiddish for "bless") afterwards quietly. There's usually a card on the table with the prayer written out in full, so nobody thinks twice about it.

I'm not religious at all, but at momentous meals with friends---Thanksgiving, going away dinners, reunion dinners---there's often a moment where we acknowledge the occasion. More than once, we've sung "Let the Circle Be Unbroken". There's a sense of irony to it, but there's also a strong sense of togetherness and thankfulness.

Another mildly devotional practice I've applied is to imagine the genesis of each bite of food you're eating. This is also a good way to get yourself to eat less meat. :biggrin:

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As a blasphemer and/or heretic -- the exact term(s) being dependent on the particular practice and religion in combination with who's doing the judging -- I say neither grace nor my heritage's equivalent, a b'racha, before a meal. However, more than two decades after living for a little while in Japan, I still precede most meals with a quiet traditional "itadakimasu." It's the formal version of the verb "I receive" -- i.e., "I humbly receive." This acknowledges your gratitude to everyone who had a role in bringing it from its source to your table, as well as to the food itself.

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I'm an atheist, so I don't.

If I'm at home (a rarity for me), I'll sit silently while my relatives do their business.

I've never been in a public situation in the last 26 years where someone's said grace. It could be pretty common ... but that hasn't been my experience at all. :hmmm:

Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)
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'Nother atheist here, so no, no prayers. But if someone other than myself has provided the provender, I'll thank that person directly.

My partner and his sisters are religious, so when we go to his sister's house, they say grace of the holding-hands-and-bowing-heads freeform, saying-it-for-everyone variety. I hold hands, but I do not bow my head, neither do I say, "Amen." But I don't make a big deal out of it, either. At least one of his sisters knows I'm atheist, which probably means the other one does, too. But they've never given me any trouble for it. Probably because (as they've told me repeatedly), I'm the best one he's brought home, yet.

A friend of mine, who is religious, and who is part of my "adopted" family (she being the mother thereof) always prays at family get-togethers. No holding hands, but much bowing of heads, and again, I do not partake. She knows I'm atheist, and while she hasn't given up on me, she doesn't bother me about it.

I figure it's their own business, and since I don't believe that the beings to whom they are trying to talk really exist, it's not going to hurt me in the least if they choose to include me in their prayer. Nor will it hurt me if they exclude me.

Tracy

Lenexa, KS, USA

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I'd like to know, why is it called "grace?"

Why not "thanks" or "bounty" or "mealtime prayer" or what have you?

Is this one of those things that's been mistranslated down the line, like the way people say "Jesus" instead of "Yeshua?"

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I've been agnostic since I was about seven, so I don't really feel I have the option of communing with a diety, but I often consider the the life and effort that went into the creation of my meal, and feel appreciative... which reads pretty tepid, but it doesn't feel that way.

I admit to feeling at least vaguely uncomfortable when someone says grace over a meal, because I feel like I'm intruding on something extremely intimate. But I certainly don't think it's something people shouldn't do (I just tend to feel uncomfortable witnessing people's emotional lives).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I have to wonder, what happens if you choose a long tasting menu, do you say grace before each course, or before the start of the meal?

I have no problem with people doing it, if that's what turns them on, but I don't expect to be forced to participate, that's when I'll get my back up.

I have never seen it done at a restaurant by anyone though.

James.

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I'd like to know, why is it called "grace?"

Why not "thanks" or "bounty" or "mealtime prayer" or what have you?

Is this one of those things that's been mistranslated down the line, like the way people say "Jesus" instead of "Yeshua?"

I believe that "grace" ultimately stems from the Latin gratia -- the same root as for "gratitude."

And the name Jesus isn't a mistranslation, it's a transliteration of the Latin (Iesus), which itself was a transliteration of the similar-sounding Greek transliteration of Y'shuah.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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At big family gatherings someone will be appointed to lead the prayer...a very big tradition. Never me though, the whole "he just up and quit the ministry" thing makes it too awkard for them to ask... :biggrin:

In my everyday life it isn't something I generally do, but there are many times during a meal I'll stop and let myself just be thankful...if it happens in its own time, great. I'm not into the forced ritual aspect of it. And while we don't pray before a meal when we eat out, at some point during a nice dinner my wife and I will both just say "we're really lucky to have what we do and to be able to do this" and bask in that for a bit. I feel bad if I ever get to a point where I have to REMEMBER to be thankful. As cheesy as it sounds, gratitude is what keeps me grounded.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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I've never been in a public situation in the last 26 years where someone's said grace. It could be pretty common ... but that hasn't been my experience at all. :hmmm:

I wonder if it might be happening more than you realize. Most people keep it relatively quiet and to themselves (it's between them and Whomever they are thanking, afterall), so it's not very apparent unless you happen to look over at the perfect moment and catch someone crossing themselves.

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I defy anyone to know that we are praying. Its just a quiet conversational few words. Heads need not bow etc.

Not that its a secret, but one isn't supposed to make a fuss when praying publicly.

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A White House correspondent, maybe Bill Moyer ?, was invited to dinner with President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson asked him to give the blessing, and Moyer bowed his head and started to say a very quiet prayer, when Johnson told him to speak up, because he (Johnson) could not hear him. Moyer replied "Mister President, I'm not talking to YOU."

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I've never been in a public situation in the last 26 years where someone's said grace. It could be pretty common ... but that hasn't been my experience at all. :hmmm:

I wonder if it might be happening more than you realize. Most people keep it relatively quiet and to themselves (it's between them and Whomever they are thanking, afterall), so it's not very apparent unless you happen to look over at the perfect moment and catch someone crossing themselves.

I think this very much depends upon the part of the country (and world) where you are, and also the community for that matter.

There are certain parts of the States where public displays of, and group participation in acts of devotion by people who are not overtly religious are quite common. These are not particularly common in the Northeast, although I have found them to be common in certain communities here. In either case I find it most common that the public/group devotion is a Christian one.

--

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I'm agnostic so I respect peoples decision to give thanks, or not.

As long as there's no attitude of superiority or pity because of it.

Each to their own.

There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

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