I often am irritated by the yoga brigade. Yes, yoga is a great exercise. I like it for that. Yes, meditation has benefits, we have seen some scientific evidence for the calming effects of meditationg. We aren’t saying Yoga lets you shoot fire and meditation lets you access a higher plane of consciousness. We are just saying that these are good exercise both physical and mental.
So it is rather puzzling when Christians buy into the magic powers aspect of “yoga”.
We are cultural beings. We learn what is acceptable from those around us, and that becomes our unconscious reality. When something is said often enough it becomes true for us, regardless of its ultimate reality.
There is a subtle irony that this comes from a fundie Christian.
My devotional this morning highlighted the fact that when the Israelites were in Egypt they had no revelatory word from God, so the giving of the law and the isolation of the tribes in the desert was a means of installing in them a new culture. But cultural shifts are hard, and once we’ve accepted something as reality, we don’t easily let go.
Which never really happened. There is no evidence of such an event and it probably refers to the occupation of the region by Egypt since Egypt and the local powers fought over the region for millenia. Again the irony of saying that an echo chamber can blind you to the reality of the situation.
Belief in a spiritual realm where angels and demons are real has largely been dismissed by mainstream Christianity. We have a lot of teaching about God, but we are “ignorant about the plans and schemes of the enemy” (2 Cor. 2:11). Demonic influences have been explained as ignorant superstitions or as the results of mental illnesses. And as long as we believe Satan and his powers are not worth considering, he is free to attack and lay the blame wherever he sees fit. Judgementalism and self-condemnation result.
This is not an article in a minor publication. This is an article in a University Paper. A Christian University but still, John Brown University is not doing a good job if it’s faculty members believe in actual fallen angels tempting human beings as an explanation for mental illness.
This attitude has harmed those who have mental disorders in the past and even today. Parents who are Christian in some cases do not seek assistance from a psychiatrist and instead prefer prayer and priests. This can end in tragedy, where the mental health issue wins over faith.
To encourage this sort of bigotry and it is bigotry towards another’s culture was the trademark of Christianity as a source of colonialism. It’s roots lie in the denigration of anything outside the white “norm”.
I pray as I write this that neither of these reactions results from my comments. It is my hope that we all acknowledge the real possibility that we may be deceived or ignorant in certain areas, and that we all desire truth, no matter how disconcerting the truth may be.
And as always, it is wreathed in concern. It’s not bigotry but concern.
That’s the thing, bigotry isn’t always the goosestepping stormtrooper but can be subtle. The Casual Racism does more damage because we often do not realise what we are doing is racist at all.
My story is too long and complex to explain fully, but I was saved while in elementary school, experimented with witchcraft in junior high, started drugs in high school and was deeply involved with the New Age—including yoga—during my college years. About 30 years ago I turned back to Jesus. About 20 years ago I began the process of being delivered from numerous demonic spirits. I’ve had to wrestle with the reality of how demonic spirits have affected my life as a Christian over the years, but the freedom I’ve experienced and have seen others experience has been the most beautiful thing I’ve known since salvation.
Yoga is based on a philosophy that’s older than Christianity. It’s modern version was compiled in the 18th Century but the various forms of it pre-existed. A lot of it was just callisthenics. The equivalent of star jumps.
To consider it demonic is just daft. And this is the sort of person teaching at JBU. The future Christians of America are being taught by someone who is parroting the racism of yesteryear to a new generation.
And then we wonder why bigotry continues.
This column is not a theological exegesis, but rather a heartfelt cry. I understand that yoga has become an accepted part of the American culture. The National Institute of Health promotes it vigorously and much of the Church has accepted it as harmless. I have to disagree.
On what basis? Well!
As I have been thinking of all the arguments and reasons why yoga is not as beneficial as we’ve been led to believe, it all keeps coming back to the fact that yoga has its roots in the worship of demonic Hindu gods.
Ah yes. Because this person who is apparently not a “kid” or some “idiot” but part of Student Support. That the tired and painful old arguments denigrating another religion that is intricately linked to my culture is demonic and that nothing good can come out of Hinduism or the culture of India.
Such attacks were used to burn books. Such attacks were used to justify violence on South Asians via the “dotbuster” attacks. Such attacks were used to denigrate a rich culture in India resulting in the loss of many forms of art that were considered vulgar and “not Christian”.
If Such is the Student Support at John Brown, then it is little wonder the young adults this university produces are nothing more than talking heads for Right Wing Fundamentalism.
I believe that while yoga may offer some benefits, those benefits have hidden, demonic strings attached. I spoke to one of our chapel speakers years ago about this. He was a Dalit “untouchable” from India who had become a Christian. His view is that yoga is the beautiful face that the very ugly religion of Hinduism uses to sell itself to Americans.
I too am untouchable, the untouchables of India utilise Christianity to break out of Hindu’s caste system but with them bring their own bigotry and hate driven by the words of baptists.
And Hinduism is ugly, it has the caste system and a poor treatment of women on it’s conscience. Just like Christianity has slavery, racism, cultural desolation, genocide, war and torture of intellectuals as it’s negatives over history. But the thing is Hinduism is progressing or at least trying to progress while John Brown’s Student Support worker is still stuck in the past.
The dalit has swapped one master for another and both are just as dull and tedious and not real. All he has done is swapped chains.
Please know that my intention for writing this is one of love and concern. I understand that most people will probably disagree with me. It is not easy for me to publicly share my story, knowing that it is so counter-cultural. But if my story will bring hope or truth to anyone, it is worth it. I am very open to respectfully discussing any of these issues further. There is more I have left unsaid than I have said.
And it was the love and concern of Christians that forced me to write with my right hand rather than my left growing up. Because “left is bad”. Love and concern from Hindus agreed with them as the “left is bad”. Your story is not counter-cultural. It is insulting to an entire group of people for whom yoga is part of their culture and who offer it on a secular stage without any religious accoutrements.
You have not been respectful.
Ask God to reveal his truth, and then be willing to seek it out. Google “yoga” and dig a bit. Research the presence of exorcism in the Early Church. Search the Scriptures.
Which is nonsensical, your god demands you be a “gigantic arsehole” to anyone who doesn’t believe in your god. To the point that your predecessors burned and killed Jews, Muslims and Hindus and happily massacred savages. Your understanding of the subject has to come from a realistic attitude.
And I must say, if your universities hire people whose beliefs are entrenched in the racism of the past and who represent your university then I am shocked and appalled. What this lady basically says is “Google Christian Biased Stuff on Yoga that agrees with me and ignore everything else and you will know I am right”.
In other news? Google Manchester City and if you read carefully enough you will know that they are the best team in the world.
We don’t need to be afraid of the demonic realm, but we do need to be wise.
Fearing imaginary creatures is not the definition of wisdom.
Perhaps a place of education should concentrate on Education rather than Prayer. You would do more to help your wards.