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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Catholic Church Hall - no samadhi-seeking here please


Fr John Chandler, a recently ordained priest of Portsmouth Diocese, must be somewhat nonplussed that his decision to withdraw the use of his Church Hall for a Pilates class that turned out in fact to be a Pilates and spiritual Yoga class, has led to a feeding frenzy in the world's press. Fr Chandler is to be commended for his clear-sightedness and courage in taking a stand on this issue despite the storm of negative publicity. He is quite right to refuse to allow the Church premises to be used for something incompatible with the Catholic faith. I am sure that Bishop Egan, the new Bishop of Portsmouth, will be very supportive of his action.

Read Daily Telegraph article or any one of the other 250 or so pieces you will find with a quick Google News search. They all seem to have the same quotes repeated probably from one of the agencies. Hence you learn of Cori Withell's indignant protest that she paid £180 for the use of the Hall - without hearing that (obviously) she got her money back and consequently the Church has lost revenue from the hire of its hall.

The Yoga Journal which reports the ban on one of its blogs has an enlightening discussion elsewhere on its site of whether Yoga is a religion. Many adherents would prefer not to call it a religion but a philosophy that involves Samadhi (the path toward a mystical state of enlightenment or union with the Divine) and Dharma (a law of the consciousness universe involving a theory of kharma and rebirth.)

The controversy highlights how people who reject "religion" in favour of a "philosophy" fail to realise that their "philosophy" indeed a religion and is in fact incompatible with other religions, and particularly with Christianity. At least the Yoga Journal recognises that there is a discussion to be had. In secular Britain you can promote all sorts of religious philosophies while blithely taking the unchallenged high ground of maintaining that you do not have a religion and that the Catholic Church is narrow-minded for not agreeing with you. The action of priests like Fr Chandler is crucial in exposing this aspect of the dictatorship of relativism.

Global Hinduism runs the story and quotes Pierre Bibby, of the charity British Wheel of Yoga, who said:
‘Research demonstrates yoga improves people’s health and wellbeing physically and mentally. Who could object to that?’
Directly underneath, in the "Most Popular Posts" widget for Global Hinduism is an article headed "32000 year old Idol of Narsimha (Lord Vishnu’s Avatar) found in Germany." Once you get into alternative spirituality based on dharmas and kharmas, you don't know where you are going to end up, or indeed what kind of "consciousness" you are inviting into the life force of your chakrahs (see my post on Holistic Indian Head Massage.)

So my advice to you is: if you want to get some exercise, do some press-ups, sit-ups and tuck-jumps and go for a brisk run - preferably in the opposite direction from the nearest yogilates session.



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