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1187 Visiting Churches, Mosques, and Temples

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,187 – Visiting Churches, Mosques, and Temples.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,187. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. Are you on Facebook? So are we! Go to facebook.com/eslpod and like us, because we like you.

This episode is a dialogue between Cassius and Brittany about visiting holy places – churches, mosques, and temples. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Cassius: You’ll need to cover up if you want to go in there. This is a house of worship.

Brittany: All right, if you say so. I don’t really want to go into this mosque or temple or whatever it is.

Cassius: Keep your voice down. Can’t you see that there are people at the altar in prayer?

Brittany: I’ll just stay outside. Maybe I’ll walk over to that building over there with the dome and steeple.

Cassius: That’s not a steeple. It’s a minaret, and that’s a mosque. You’re definitely not going in there dressed like that.

Brittany: Why not? I’m curious about other religions. I just want to see what it’s like inside and take lots of pictures.

Cassius: These are holy places. You can’t just barge into a house of worship to satisfy your curiosity.

Brittany: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me wanting to observe local people worshipping their gods. I’m very interested in the local culture.

Cassius: Would you like a tourist coming into your church and taking pictures of you while you’re in prayer?

Brittany: I don’t belong to a church, but if I did, I’d welcome anyone who wanted to have a look.

Cassius: Other members of your congregation might not feel that way, but do what you like. I’ll be right here ready to dust you off when they give you the boot!

[end of dialogue]

Cassius begins our dialogue by saying to Brittany, “You’ll need to cover up if you want to go in there. This is a house of worship.” The phrasal verb “to cover up” means to cover some part of your body – to hide your face or to hide your hair or perhaps to hide your arms and legs. Sometimes women especially are asked to cover up when they enter a certain building that is used for a religious purpose. A building used for religious purposes is often called a “house of worship” (worship).

A house of worship is a building where people come to pray. It is also used for religious ceremonies or religious celebrations. Brittany says, “All right, if you say so,” meaning if that’s what you’re telling me to do. “I don’t really want to go in to this mosque or temple or whatever it is.” She doesn’t seem to be sure if the building is a “mosque” (mosque) or a “temple” (temple). A “mosque” is a building where Muslims worship together, pray together. The verb “to worship” can mean to participate in a religious ceremony or a religious event of some kind.

Muslims worship in a mosque. A “temple” (temple) is used for describing a house of worship for Jews, though it could also be used for Mormons. We talk about a “Mormon temple.” That’s the house of worship of those who believe in the religion of Mormonism. But more commonly, it’s used to refer to a place where Jews worship, which is also called a “synagogue” (synagogue). Brittany is unsure whether she’s going into a mosque or a temple.

Cassius just says, “Keep your voice down.” That expression “keep your voice down” means don’t talk too loudly. “Can’t you see that there are people at the altar in prayer?” An “altar” (altar) is a kind of furniture, I guess we could describe it, that is used in certain religious ceremonies or sacrifices. In a Christian church, the altar would be in front of the building, typically. In some Christian churches, the altar looks like a big table, but in older churches, especially Catholic churches, the altar is up against the front wall of the church.

Cassius talks about people at the altar “in prayer” – that is, they are speaking to God, perhaps thanking God or praising God or asking God for something. Brittany says, “I’ll just stay outside. Maybe I’ll walk over to that building over there with the dome and steeple.” A “dome” (dome) is a tall, rounded top of a building. Sometimes churches and other houses of worship have domes on top of them. But a dome can be on any kind of building. The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., is famous for its dome.

A “steeple” (steeple) is a tall tower, or what we might call a “spire” (spire) that is often used in Christian architecture – in buildings that are built for Christian worship. Brittany points to something thinking that it’s a dome and a steeple. But Cassius corrects her. He says, “That’s not a steeple. It’s a minaret, and that a mosque.” A particular kind of tower associated with a mosque is called a “minaret” (minaret). It’s a tall, narrow tower typically found with a mosque.

Cassius says, “You’re definitely not going in there dressed like that.” It is likely that Brittany is not dressed appropriately to go into this mosque. Brittany says, “Why not? I’m curious about other religions” – other organized systems of belief. “I just want to see what it’s like inside and take lots of pictures.” “To take pictures” means to take photographs. Cassius says, “These are holy (holy) places.” Something that is “holy” is something that is dedicated to or connected to God or some supernatural power or being. “To be holy” means to be “sacred” (sacred).

The idea is that you would treat that with special respect. Cassius says, “You can’t just barge into a house of worship to satisfy your curiosity.” “To barge (barge) into” somewhere is to enter a place suddenly and loudly, often without permission to do so. If you barge into a meeting, you interrupt the meeting. You go in there making a bunch of noise and disturbing the people who are there already.

Cassius says, “You can’t just barge into a house of worship” – that is, a temple, a mosque, or a church – “to satisfy your curiosity.” “To satisfy your curiosity” (curiosity) means to find the answers to your questions about something. “Curiosity” is wanting to know about something, wanting to know the answer to some question. So, “satisfying your curiosity” is getting the answer or trying to get the answer for your questions.

Brittany says, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me wanting to observe local people worshipping their gods.” The word “God” (God), when it is capitalized (when it has a large letter) usually refers to a single, supernatural power – what we would call a “deity” (deity), which comes from the Latin word “dues,” meaning “God.” Sometimes you will see the word “God” written as a small (god), often with an “s” to make it plural so it’s “gods.”

Christians, Jews, and Muslims usually refer to their God in the singular, with no “s” at the end and a capital “G,” but you could refer to, say, “gods of other religions.” These gods may still be supernatural in their own belief systems. We could talk about the gods of the Greeks and the Romans, for example, who were in Greek and Roman religion considered supernatural but there was more than one of them. I’ve been using the word “supernatural” (supernatural). “Supernatural” means beyond our human experience and power, beyond our nature.

Brittany thinks she should be able to go into any place she wants “to observe local people,” as she calls them. She says, “I’m very interested in the local culture.” “Local” here means of this particular area or place. Cassius says, “Would you like a tourist” – someone visiting – “coming into your church and taking pictures of you while you’re in prayer?” “To be in prayer,” or “to be at prayer,” means to be praying – to be involved in the act of speaking to or listening to God. Brittany says, “I don’t belong to a church, but if I did, I’d welcome anyone who wanted to have a look.”

She means that even though she isn’t a member of a church, if she were a member of a church, she would welcome – she would be happy to have – people come in and look. Cassius says, “Other members of your congregation might not feel that way, but do what you like.” A “congregation” (congregation) is a group of people who meet regularly at a particular house of worship to pray. Cassius says that if Brittany were a member of a church, the other people who go to that church, the “congregation,” might not agree with her.

Cassius says, “I’ll be right here to dust you off when they give you the boot!” “To dust (dust) someone off” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to help someone who has fallen down by literally brushing off the dirt or the dust on the person’s clothing that got there because of their fall. In a more general way, in a more figurative way, we could say, “to dust someone off” means to help someone back from a difficult situation or from a challenging situation – to help someone recover.

“To give someone the boot” (boot) means to force someone to leave an organization or to leave a place. A “boot” is something you wear on your feet. It’s a kind of heavy shoe. Literally, “to give someone the boot” would be to kick them in their behind – in their rear, in their butt – to get them to leave the building. But it’s used, again, more figuratively to refer to getting rid of someone, to forcing someone to leave a certain building or place. It could also refer to a company firing you, getting rid of you as an employee.

But here Cassius refers to the situation in which Brittany might find herself if she goes into a church, mosque, or temple without permission. They may kick her out of the house of worship. At least, I think that’s what Cassius is saying. He might be referring to the hypothetical, the imaginary situation in which Brittany Becomes a member of a church and invites people to come in and the other members of the congregation disagree with her and kick her out of that church. I’m not sure.

In any case, let’s listen to the dialogue now at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Cassius: You’ll need to cover up if you want to go in there. This is a house of worship.

Brittany: All right, if you say so. I don’t really want to go into this mosque or temple or whatever it is.

Cassius: Keep your voice down. Can’t you see that there are people at the altar in prayer?

Brittany: I’ll just stay outside. Maybe I’ll walk over to that building over there with the dome and steeple.

Cassius: That’s not a steeple. It’s a minaret, and that’s a mosque. You’re definitely not going in there dressed like that.

Brittany: Why not? I’m curious about other religions. I just want to see what it’s like inside and take lots of pictures.

Cassius: These are holy places. You can’t just barge into a house of worship to satisfy your curiosity.

Brittany: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me wanting to observe local people worshipping their gods. I’m very interested in the local culture.

Cassius: Would you like a tourist coming into your church and taking pictures of you while you’re in prayer?

Brittany: I don’t belong to a church, but if I did, I’d welcome anyone who wanted to have a look.

Cassius: Other members of your congregation might not feel that way, but do what you like. I’ll be right here ready to dust you off when they give you the boot!

[end of dialogue]

The scripts for ESL Podcast help satisfy your curiosity about different words and phrases in English – at least, I hope they do. Thanks to Dr. Lucy Tse for being our scriptwriter.

From Los Angeles California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2016 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to cover up – to hide one’s face, hair, or another part of one’s body, especially when referring to a woman, as a sign of respect

* Use this scarf to cover up before you enter the church.

house of worship – a building where people gather to pray, speak about, or perform actions related to religion

* They just moved to the city, so they’re visiting a few houses of worship, trying to find the best fit for their family.

mosque – a building where Muslims worship together

* Men have to take off their shoes before entering the mosque.

temple – a place where people praise God or gods, especially when referring to Jews

* Do you go to the temple every week, or only on important religious holidays?

altar – a tall, flat piece of furniture used in religious ceremonies and/or sacrifices

* The bride and groom stood in front of the altar to exchange vows.

prayer – words spoken to God or gods, especially words of praise, thankfulness, or a request

* They say a prayer before every meal and before bedtime.

dome – a tall, rounded top of a building

* From here, you can see the dome above the football stadium.

steeple – a tall tower or spire (tall, thin, round structure) at the top of many Christian churches

* They placed a golden cross on the top of the steeple.

minaret – the tall, narrow tower at the top of a Muslim mosque

* Every afternoon, we can hear the call to prayers from the minaret.

religion – an organized system of beliefs about the origin and meaning of life, including belief in a supernatural power

* Many wars have been fought over differences in religion.

holy – sacred; dedicated to or connected to God or gods, to be treated with respect and reverence

* The Pope sprinkled holy water over the people who had gathered to hear him speak.

to barge into – to enter a place suddenly and loudly, attracting a lot of attention and interrupting or disrupting in a rude way

* Don’t just barge into my room! You should knock first.

to satisfy (one’s) curiosity – to find or receive the answers to one’s questions about something

* Hal has always been interested in astronomy, so he signed up for a course at the local community college to satisfy his curiosity.

god – a supernatural being with powers that cannot be explained by the natural world, usually credited with bringing the world or human beings into existence

* Do you believe in a god, or is all of existence just a cosmic accident?

church – a building where Christians worship together

* A few families go to church each Sunday, but on Christmas Eve, the church is full.

congregation – the group of people who meet regularly at a particular church, or the people who are present during a particular church meeting

* The congregation stood and sang a hymn together.

to dust (someone) off – to brush the dust or dirt off of someone who has fallen down or been through a challenging situation, literally or figuratively

* Wow, you’re really dirty! Let’s dust you off before you come inside.

to give (someone) the boot – to kick someone out of a place; to make it clear that someone is not welcome in a particular building or place

* Junior’s brother stayed for five weeks before Junior finally gave him the boot.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Cassius mean when he says, “You’ll need to cover up if you want to go in there“?
a) Brittany will need to enter secretly.
b) Brittany will need to get special permission to enter.
c) Brittany will need to put on additional clothing.

2. Where would you expect to see a steeple?
a) On an altar.
b) On a mosque.
c) On a church.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to cover up

The phrase “to cover up,” in this podcast, means to hide one’s face, hair, or another part of one’s body, especially when referring to a woman, as a sign of respect: “In this culture, women should not show their hair to men, so please cover up when you travel there.” The phrase “to cover (something) up” means to hide something so that other people cannot see it or are not aware of it: “The man tried to cover up his criminal past, but his employer found out about it anyway.” Finally, the phrase “to cover all the bases” means to prepare for all possibilities so that nothing bad will happen: “With so many vacant positions, it’s difficult for management to cover all the bases.”

to give (someone) the boot

In this podcast, the phrase “to give (someone) the boot” means to kick someone out of a place and make it clear that he or she is not welcome in a particular building or place: “That new employee is incompetent! When is the boss going to give her the boot?” The phrase “to be/get too big for (one’s) boots” means for a young person to become too arrogant or cocky, not respecting his or her elders: “When our teenage son said he didn’t need anyone’s help to build a successful career, we knew he was getting too big for his boots.” Finally, the phrase “to boot” can be placed at the end of a sentence to mean in addition or as well: “When they won the lottery, they bought a mansion and two fancy sports cars to boot.”

Culture Note
Significant Mosques in the United States

The United States is a “melting pot” (a country made of people from many different countries), so its residents represent many different cultures, nationalities, and religions, including Islam. Several U.S. mosques are significant for their size, age, or historical or cultural importance.

The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan is the biggest mosque in North America. The current building was opened in 2005, and the minaret is 10 “stories” (floors) high. The mosque operates an Islamic “elementary” (grades kindergarten through 5th grade) and “middle” (6th, 7th, and 8th grades) school known as the Muslim American Youth Academy.

Mosque Maryam is a large mosque in Chicago, Illinois. The building was originally a Greek Orthodox church, but the “pews” (long bench-like seats where Christians sit during worship) have been removed. The mosque serves as the headquarters and National Center for the Nation of Islam, and is “adjacent to” (next to) a “pre-K through 12” (from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) educational institution called the Muhammad University of Islam.

The Islamic Cultural Center was the first mosque opened in New York City. Construction began in 1987, but was not “completed” (finished) until 1991. Another mosque in New York City, Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, is notable because Malcolm X, a civil rights leader, “preached” (gave a religious talk in front of a group of people) there.

Finally, Washington, DC is home to the Islamic Center of Washington. It opened in 1957 as the biggest mosque in the “Western Hemisphere” (North and South America), but it “no longer holds that title” (it is not longer the biggest mosque in the Western Hemisphere). Approximately 6,000 people pray there each Friday.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c