The other day a friend of mine said that, although she didn’t agree with his theology, Mark Driscoll was a pretty smart guy. I agreed. Boy, were we wrong:
‘Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic,’ Driscoll said. ‘If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.’
I guess he’s an expert. Right. Better warn those taking the weekly yoga class in my church. They have been acting sort of…spooky.
I’m not saying that Driscoll has a low I.Q. – I’m sure that’s not the case. But the above statement sure doesn’t make him sound very smart. It’s the kind of thing that a lot of religious people are saying these days about other traditions, practices and beliefs that they apparently know next to nothing about. It’s the kind of remark that someone who thinks he has all the right answers will make. Stupid and…bigoted.
I suspect that Driscoll (like his fellow Calvinist, Al Mohler) is sure that yoga is demonic because of it’s “non-Christian” roots in Hinduism. (Though he just might feel that yoga is not ‘macho’ enough for him.) To folks like this, any spiritual (or psychological) practice not based on the Bible is demonic, so it only follows that it’s practitioners are worshiping and serving Satan. A major problem with this position (aside from the arrogance) is that many, if not most, of the critics’ own beliefs and practices are not strictly Biblical. At least that’s what the majority of their Christian brothers and sisters think, even if they are too polite to say so. Some, who are not so polite (like me ) might suggest that it is Driscoll and friends who are actually following Satan, since Satan is a clever Hebrew metaphor for the selfish and frightened ego.
This idea that yoga is a way to allow demons access to our minds has been a staple of Christian pop-culture for some time and it’s a mainstay of Christian suspense fiction. But is it any coincidence that in the past few months ‘evangelical’ leaders have begun speaking out against a practice that is so closely identified with Hinduism? I don’t want to sound cynical, but have the hordes of Christian Islamophobes softened up the playing field for a more spirited condemnation of other non-Christians? (If so, then their fellow-traveling Jewish Islamophobes might want to be careful.)
Many of the people who have taken hip-shots at other religions really should know better. Graduates of divinity schools, colleges and universities – you wonder if any of them had ever taken a comparative religion course. But then some of those who teach comparative religions at the college level can miss the forest for the trees when it comes to faith. Though not bigoted they may be prejudiced, tending to see every religion as monolithic (or almost so) – each devotee devoted to the same set of doctrines and imagining the same image of God: all Muslims striving for world domination, all Hindus as polytheists, all Christians believing Jesus is the sacrificial Son of God etc. Certainly a minister like Driscoll should know better -he just needs to look around at his fellow Christians. Consider how there is such a diversity of theological opinion and such a lack of consensus on who Jesus was and what he said and did. How some Christians might even accuse Driscoll of idolatry – an artist’s conception of Jesus on his tee-shirt. He should ponder that a while before he gives into the temptation to tilt at other spiritual windmills.
Actually, maybe a little yoga would help. He’s already hooked into the Christian pop-culture passion for avatars