Posts Tagged “pagans”

LotusNearly eight years ago, I first blogged about Christianity and yoga — and how, supposedly, they’re at loggerheads. At that time, Southern Baptist theologian Al Mohler had come out against it as un-Christian. Since then, other Christians have made their opposition to the practice of yoga known, in a number of ways, including via lawsuits.

Well, this controversy has kicked up anew. A Catholic blogger declared it un-Christian on Twitter, and complained that he was criticized for having done so (Archive.Is cached article):

The cool kids on Twitter use the term “ratioed” to describe an event where someone sends a controversial tweet that garners far more replies than it does likes. According to Twitter logic, this is supposed to be an indication that you were wrong about whatever you said.…

Yet I have found that the ratio more often indicates the correctness of a statement than it does incorrectness. That does not always hold, of course, but I think it did this morning when I fell into another ratio because of a tweet about yoga [cached]. Here’s what I said: “It’s kind of amazing to see all of the Christians who think nothing of going to a yoga class. There are many excellent ways to get in shape that do not involve participating in Hindu worship.”

Most of Walsh’s article isn’t so much a condemnation of yoga as a “pagan spiritual practice,” but a self-serving, infantile, sniveling whine about the criticism that was leveled at him. As part of his diatribe, Walsh (a supposedly Catholic blogger) cites Mohler (a very Protestant theologian). I find that little bit of irony amusing, even if it’s almost beside the point.

What is important to know, here, is that Walsh misunderstands what yoga is, as it’s practiced in America. As I’ve noted each time I’ve commented on this, it’s absolutely true that yoga began over a couple millennia ago (or more) as a Hindu practice. It’s been practiced in numerous ways since it began in classical India, however. It migrated through various religious traditions, and as it’s practiced in the occidental world, has lost any connection to its religious origins, aside from the Hindi names of some of its positions.

To be clear, American yogis and yoginis are not worshipping any Hindu gods — no matter how vehemently Walsh, or Mohler or any other Christian critics of yoga, might insist they are. What’s more, meditative practices along the lines of yoga are part and parcel of Christianity, and have been for a very long time. Meditation is embedded in the monastic and mendicant movements.

It’s time for Christianists to grow up and deal with things that seem foreign (and therefore scary) to them, rather than dismiss and castigate them as “pagan.”

Photo credit: CEBImagery, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Vox.

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Yoga Journal Conference 1I’ve commented before on occasional Christianist hissy-fits and condemnations of yoga as a profane “pagan”/Hindu practice. As I’ve said on those occasions, it’s true that what we now call “yoga” did originate as part of Hindu practice and ritual. However, it has changed through the millennia, and as it’s practiced in the occidental world, has long since lost any connection to the Hindu religion. American yogis and yoginis are not worshiping Hindu gods in any of their exercises.

But that hasn’t stopped Christians from getting their panties in knots over it nonetheless. The Kansas City Star, for example, reports that a Catholic college has renamed its yoga classes (WebCite cached article):

Yoga is designed to help bring peace and wellness to body and mind.

But at Benedictine College — a small and strongly Catholic liberal arts school in Atchison, Kan. — yoga classes per se will soon be yo-gone, out of apparent concern that use of the word “yoga” suggests advocacy for Hindu mysticism.

College spokesman Stephen Johnson said that starting this fall, both recreational classes and for-credit exercise classes that once taught yoga will likely still be taught the same way, but instead will be rebranded as “lifestyle fitness.”

“We’re changing the name,” Johnson said.

Note, they haven’t stopped the yoga classes. They’ll still be held. They just won’t go by the name of “yoga” any more. Why the college dislikes the name “yoga” isn’t entirely clear, or why yoga classes haven’t been banned altogether, isn’t clear based on the objections they’ve offered:

Complaints, Johnson said, began to come in from alumni, students, faculty and some administrators who argued that as a Hindu practice, yoga was not in keeping with Catholic-based education.

I note that mysticism and meditation — which yoga is a form of — is most assuredly very Christian. It’s been part of the religion since its inception, especially within its monastic movements. So really, there shouldn’t be much objection to it, even at a conservative Catholic college.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

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Stay tuned ... for the next exciting episode of ... Jerks for Jesus! (PsiCop original graphic)There’s nothing like a good disaster to get Christians talking about their faith. They’re happy to use awful events and use them for their own mercenary purposes.

Usually they do this in the form of what I call “disaster theology” in which they announce that their deity either caused the horrible event, or allowed it to happen, because too many people are disobeying him, or because of gays, or atheists, or abortions, whatever. But other times they use the event in a different way.

Take, for example, the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday (WebCite cached article). Within hours of this cataclysm that claimed thousands of lives already, a preacher used it as fodder to express his fierce, unrelenting religionism (cached):

Yes folks, this is “the Religion of Love” in action. Yep. No doubt. Just so we’re clear as to what this creep said, here it is:

Praying 4 the lost souls in Nepal. Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt & the people will repent/receive Christ.

Now, I suppose one could say it’s true that Nepal is “pagan” because it’s majority-Hindu, and at least by most Christians’ standards that’s a form of “paganism.” But a desire to have a pagan religion’s places and objects of worship destroyed kind of smacks of something the Taliban or ISIS/ISIL/IS would do. I suspect Miano wouldn’t want his wish compared to the likes of them … so one wonders why he’s thinking in a similar way? Hmm.

At any rate, I invite you, Dear Reader, to go ahead and look at Miano’s responses to those who, understandably, criticized him on Twitter. He did what any militant Christofascist would do in his place … double down and insist that he’s entitled to be an insulting boor for Jesus.

Now, one could certainly say that Miano is just one guy and that he doesn’t speak for Christianity. But that’s not entirely true; he’s a credentialed preacher, which does in fact make him something of a spokesman for his religion. But also, nothing is going to happen to him because of it. Sure, he’ll get some blowback on Twitter, and a tiny bit of it might even come from other Christians. But he won’t lose his credentials, he won’t lose his ministry, and he won’t be meaningfully disciplined in any way by the so-called “reasonable majority” of Christians. The reason for this is simple: Christians quite simply never bring each other to heel for any kind of excess. They just won’t do it. Miano will continue doing what he’s always done, untouched by any consequences for his nastiness.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Christianity’s fatal flaw.

As for Mr Miano, who appears sincerely to believe everyone on the planet is obligated to become a Christian just like him, my standard challenge is still open: Track me down and make me believe what you want me to. I mean it. Seriously! Given his beliefs, Miano has no valid reason not to do so … so I invite him to give it his best shot!

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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Concerning the “gay exorcism” I blogged about earlier, the pastor of Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport, CT has finally stopped being coy about the video they’d posted online but then yanked when people actually paid attention to it. Pastor Patricia McKinney appeared on CNN to “explain” what happened. (Not that she actually “explained” anything.) Video of this train-wreck interview can be viewed at the Friendly Atheist blog.

Near the start, Ms McKinney makes this statement:

I just wanted to tell the world out there that Manifested Glory Ministries Church is not against homosexuality. We do not hate them. We do not come up against them.

This claim, however, is contradicted just a few more moments into the interview, when she said:

You can come in our church, but you cannot live that lifestyle in our church.

Put these statements together, and you have, “We’re not opposed to homosexuality, we’re just opposed to homosexuality.”

That’s about as nonsensical and asinine as anything I’ve ever heard.

An interesting point — which further reveals how medieval this church’s thinking is — that Ms McKinney makes several times in the interview, is “Everything has a spirit.” This is an archaic point of view; not merely medieval, but ancient and primeval. It is also at the foundation of all fundamentalist thinking. To a religious fundamentalist, the world itself — and everything in it — is fully alive, and is part of the vast cosmic contest between Good (i.e. God) and Evil (i.e. not just Satan, but “the World,” sin, secularism, etc.). Everything that happens, emerges directly from this enormous, ongoing universal struggle. People’s behaviors and even thoughts are a manifestation of this struggle … and in a very real, and both personal and personalized, way. In many ways, fundamentalists — of any sort, not just Christian — end up seeing the world as a terrifying place. Everything around them can potentially be arrayed against them and against their cause (God). This is one of the reasons why fundamentalists tend to be so paranoid in their thinking (the gun-toting Louisville pastor I blogged about is a prime example of this phenomenon).

While Christians have traditionally viewed themselves as being “different” from the pagans who preceded them, ironically their view that all things … people, objects, even behaviors … are living, breathing, metaphysical entities (or “spirits”) with their own existence, motives and purposes, is not appreciably different from the animism that was part of most pagan belief systems.

Put bluntly, Christianity has encountered its enemy — and has become it!

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