Thursday, October 7, 2010

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

A Christian pastor who I know and admire once remarked, "I can't imagine allowing a yoga class in a Christian church."

I'm thinking to myself "did I hear that right?" He must think it's some kind of Eastern religion. I mean, I've practiced yoga exercises, even taken a few classes. I've known yoga teachers--even the late, celebrated physical education guru Ruth Bender, pictured on the book cover above. In all that time I never heard anything incompatible with "Christian doctrine." Our church even had classes in Tai Kwon Do for a while.

Yoga may have come out of Indian culture, and aspects of it did come out of Hindu tradition, but the simple stretching and breathing exercises associated with the yoga of American popular culture are basically just that. Moreover, it's a good idea, especially for an aging population.

But now Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler says the stretching and meditative discipline derived from Eastern religions is not a Christian pathway to God.

I've read many articles by Dr. Mohler in the past and generally agreed with him and found his messages to be inspiring. No, yoga might not be a "pathway to God," but that doesn't mean that it's not a really good way to make sure our bodies stay relatively limber into a ripe old age. Maybe if we called it "Christian Calisthenics" it would be acceptable to him.

Now the press has picked up on his putting his foot into his mouth--figuratively that is. If he practiced "Christian Calisthenics" he might still be able to do it literally. And bend over to tie his shoelaces without grunting and groaning.

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