Her first words where, “I am mad.” Those are not always welcome words when a pastor is having a conversation with a faithful and active church member. You can understand how relieved I was upon learning that she was not mad at me.
“I am a Christian.” She is certainly that. I have witnessed her faithfulness to the cause of Christ in more ways than I can recall over the last ten years. She is also Baptist to her very core. I know this because she teaches missions, promotes missions and does missions. She is a Baptist woman on mission if there ever was one. From Knoxville to New Orleans, from Kentucky to North Africa she has been there doing, living, sharing the love of Christ.
“When I do yoga it is not unchristian!” In short order, we had arrived at the source of agitation. She had read the Yahoo report of an Associated Press story about an Al Mohler blog post. Al Mohler is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In his post, Mohler had issued a warning to Christians to avoid yoga.
“Why did he say that?” Of course, I have no idea why he said what he said. So I am guessing that it is because it originated in India and it involves the body and the mind in a meditative practice that is foreign to his life experience. However, I really don’t know what his reasons were for writing what he wrote. I do know that doctrinal purity is high on his list of priorities. Perhaps he sees yoga as threat to his understanding of Christian orthodoxy. What he fails to take into account is that yoga, like pizza, spaghetti and Kung Pao chicken bear little resemblance to their countries of origin once they become integrated into the our American culture.
Still, one has to wonder if maybe he and his fundamentalist brethren have just run out of people to be against. They have already condemned Mickey Mouse, Masons, divorced people, women, couples who use birth-control, churches that ordain women and churches that refuse to shut their doors to homosexuals all in the name of doctrinal purity. Perhaps they are just now getting to the “Y’s. Who knows?
The conversation ends. The caller has spoken her mind. She has learned that her pastor, while not a practitioner of yoga, is not opposed to others benefiting from such practice.
I was unaware of that a former deacon chairperson was behind me listening to the conversation. He said, “I don’t know who you were talking to, but you might want to let them know that you have a former deacon chairperson who is taking Tai Chi.” I don’t tell him that the co-chairperson of the personnel committee just returned from a trip to Disney World.
That Southern Baptist circle just keeps getting smaller and smaller and we find ourselves further and further from its narrowing circumference.