Posted by: frroberts | September 5, 2017

Joseph Shaw’s Follow-up on Yoga

I encourage you to read the whole essay, but here is the money quote:

The place I would locate the problem, instead, is here: that what we are dealing with is a body of practice which takes place in a culture dominated by New Age attitudes which are incompatible with the Faith, such as the attitude that all religions are basically one, or true, and that spiritual progress can be made through the self-realisation of the body. If you enter the world of Yoga, you enter this atmosphere. There’s nothing wrong with bending and stretching. Holding to some myth about how these bends and stretches are related to ancient Hindu polytheism is not, exactly, edifying. Saying ‘Om’ when you have no idea what it means is clearly spiritually reckless. But even if you avoid those things, I would never recomend a group of Catholics to go to Yoga, because even if they start with the least spiritually-focused Yoga class, there is a good chance that the Yoga world is going to draw them in, and the attitudes of the Yoga world are not theologically sound attitudes.

If that sounds weak, think of some parallels. Suppose there is some perfectly harmless card game which is typically played in the context of gambling for high stakes. Do we need to exercise caution about encouraging Catholics to enter the milieu of such a game? Suppose there was a group which went on bracing country walks, and this particular group tended to attract racists. Would we need to exercise caution in recommending it? The fact that bending and stretching are not spiritually dangerous in themselves does not absolve us from responsibility to ask about who we are going to be bending and stretching with, what kind of attitudes and views are in the atmosphere while this is going on, and what happens to that minority who want to take it a bit further.


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