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Faithful Evolution

20 Mar

I was reading an article this morning on a site I’ve started checking out regularly.  The author was talking about how she and her family are practicing Christians, who made the choice to send their kids to public school.  You can read the article here.  I gathered from that piece that they like the idea of being in control of what their children learn about their faith, and appreciate that no religion of any kind is taught in public schools.  (I imagine that last part is a large deciding factor in her school system choice, since Catholic schools in Ontario – maybe across the country – teach world religions starting in high school.  Based solely on the piece I read this morning I assume that the author would not be comfortable with her children exploring other faiths.)

She was writing about being upset to discover that a yoga instructor came to the school and taught some basic yoga to one of her 3 kids.  Her position is that yoga is a faith, that clearing your mind is not the same as praying, and is really just upset that any form of faith was taught in the classroom.

Is it just me?  It’s possible – maybe it is just me.  I thought that yoga had become totally mainstream and sanitized.

I was raised in a Catholic home.  My Mom was a reader, Minister of the Eucharist (meaning she could administer communion alongside the priest), founder of the pre-school Sunday School program, and later the founder of the school-aged Sunday School program.  I myself was an alter server, a reader, I sang in the choir, held the youth seat on the parish council, taught the pre-school Sunday School program and later founded a youth group.  To say that my roots are Christian is a very fair statement.

I do not today call myself Christian, however, so maybe my perspective is skewed.  The thing is,  I do not see yoga as a faith.  I get that it’s roots are, but so are the roots of Christmas and Easter, and how many of us still celebrate those holidays even though we don’t accept Jesus as our saviour?  I see yoga as exercise.  I see it as relaxation technique.  I see it as a way to release stress that our daily lives bring to us consistently, that are proven to be killing us.  And you know, even in my very Catholic upbringing, when we kids started to get out of control of wound up, my Mom would say, “Stop for a minute.  Take a deep breath.  Okay, and now take another deep breath.”  She did that because she knew it would clear our minds of the craziness that was happening in there.  She did not feel that in doing so we were “inviting the devil in” to quote one commenter from the article.

In my upbringing, I grew to understand that you need to still your mind to hear the voice of God.  It’s in the quiet moments that God reveals Himself to you.  I still believe this to be true.  We need to calm the white noise in our heads – there is so much chatter there, all the time, that it’s a real gift when you are able to stop the noise for a moment.  Yoga can do that, and that should be seen as a good thing.

I think though, more than my lack of understanding for her position that yoga is a faith, I am upset that this seemingly progressive woman, living in one of the most liberal provinces in our country (British Columbia) is so closed to diversity.  From my perspective, your faith must not be very strong if it cannot handle a little discussion about other faiths.  Some will say that it’s not her faith that she’s worried about – it’s her children’s faith.  I hear that.  Again though, it’s a great chance to reinforce your family’s values and to discuss the similarities and differences between the 2 faiths.  In order for our society to move forward to a place of peace and acceptance, we need to be able to talk about what makes us different.  Our children need to feel free to explore the world around them, and know that we want them to come and talk to us about what they discover.  By telling the teacher (as the writer did), “Please let us know if you plan to do such a session again, so that we can take Graham out of school that day,” she is effectively cutting off any discussion and exploration.  And to me, that’s just sad.

But what do you think?  Am I over-reacting?  Am I mistaken, and yoga is a faith system all it’s own, not something that can be used to cross a myriad of religions?  Should the writer be upset?  Help me see what you see, so my perspective can be broadened.

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6 Comments

Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Opinion

 

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6 responses to “Faithful Evolution

  1. spiritualsavant

    March 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I am a firm believer in Christ and from what you’re related, I agree with you. Especially when you say, “your faith must not be very strong if it cannot handle a little discussion about other faiths.” Sadly, I think many Christians harbor some serious doubts and instead of facing them and moving on to a place of greater certainty (or unbelief), they hide. They retreat to a silent fortress of ignorance and naivete. If professing believers can’t march fearlessly into the open marketplace of ideas and engage, they should hang it up! Jesus called us to make disciples not shelter adherents. Just my two cents.

     
    • realfoodcooking

      March 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      I totally agree with you. I love that people have beliefs that they are passionate about, and I would love for more people to engage in open and honest discussion about those beliefs. One of my dearest friends in the whole world is a dyed-in-the-blood Christian. She was a missionary in her youth, and now teaches at a Christian college in the US. One of my favourite parts about our relationship is her willingness to engage me in conversation about her faith, and my faith. It allows us to grow in our own spirituality and helps us to understand other around us more completely. It’s sad that we have lost the ability to discuss without judgement; I imagine in part this is why so many people choose to leave the conversation before it even happens.

      Thanks for your comment!

       
  2. Skwishee

    March 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I’m not religious myself, but I do know that when I do believe strongly in something, I *like* my kids to question me about it. Not only giving me a great chance for discussion with them, but to reexamine my own belief at the same time. Maybe instead of firing off an email to the school, she should have had a discussion with her son.

    And I’m pretty sure that the yoga in school would have been strictly calming and stretching exercises, without religious teaching. Which, really? I know that my kids could use at times. Learning to calm yourself down and relax is a very important skill as you grow older – I wish I was better at it – and starting to teach it to kids makes sense to me. And I certainly don’t think that “clearing your mind” would go against God’s word. Wouldn’t one better be able to focus on praying the “right way” if they’re first able to clear their mind of other extraneous thoughts?

    I think it was an overreaction, and that she should try to be a bit more open minded. That said – they are her kids, and if it makes her uncomfortable I’m glad she was able to come up with a solution that solved her issue but didn’t affect anyone else.

     
    • realfoodcooking

      March 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Well, I agree that in the end they are her children and she should be comfortable with what’s happening in their classroom. She did the right thing from that perspective (respectfully letting the teacher know she wasn’t thrilled about this, and offering a solution that did not affect the teacher’s ability to lesson plan for her class). Your kids spent the majority of their awake time in a teacher’s care for 10 months of the year, so I am with you on that. Get comfortable, which she has and ultimately that’s what matters.

       
  3. Kathleen

    March 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I think we could call yoga a discipline rather than a faith and solve the problem entirely. I honestly feel, at the risk of sounding callous, that people need to lighten up. If you want to completely shelter your child from all other cultures, religions, and belief systems, start home-schooling. Next people will be up in arms because some kid wants to do their science project on aromatherapy.

     
    • realfoodcooking

      March 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      Aromatherapy is a science??? 😉 Maybe that’s the thrust of my message: be open and light. Life is meant for fun and relaxing, not judging and sadness.

       

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