Earlier today, I posted this article on my facebook. It discusses the fact that a growing number of American Christians mix elements of Eastern religion, such as yoga practices, into their beliefs.
This has, of course, caused some contention with my fundamentalist mother, who is also on facebook. She commented on the link:
Okay Chad..you know I have to comment on this one. Whatever anyone wants to believe is their choice, however, if you believe in the Ten Commandments you are breaking a big one here.
Hinduism belief: Brahma=Creator, Vishnu=Preserver,
Buddhism: Worshipers of Buddha.
If and I stress "IF" someone professes to be a Christian, it is not possible to worship any other than the one true God. "Thou shalt have no other gods(little g) before me." There is no room for debate here. You either are or you aren't a Christian and it scares me when people mix other religions in with Christianity. It is so aggravating to hear people claim that they can worship all other gods but still profess to be Christian. Be careful what you dabble with. When someone joins a cult, it happens so gradually they do not even realize they are in it until it is too late. Stay in God's word and what He teaches and you will be much better off in the end (literally). Love you (Mark 4:15b).
To which I responded:
That's not really how I interpreted the article. I never read in there anywhere that they actually claimed to worship Buddha, Vishnu, whoever else, but that utilizing those Eastern spiritual practices (yoga, meditation, etc.) have brought t...hem closer in their own walk with God and strengthen their faith, as practices in addition to reading the Bible, going to church, etc. It's one reason a growing number of denominations have meditation sessions and such. My group therapy class this past Saturday even did some yoga when we had some time to fill. I took some yoga when I had that membership at the YMCA. Very relaxing and helped my stress. But I didn't become Hindu because of it.
In the midst of this, she sent me a message, which reads:
Hey Chad. Listen, I am really burdened by what you are posting lately about other beliefs. Are you beginning to question your faith? If you are, please let us talk to you before you get too deeply in these false beliefs. I cannot bear to think that you are turning away from what you have been taught. What is going on Chad? Really. I know this seems straightforward of me, but I cannot stay silent on something this important. Please get back to reading the Bible instead of all of this other junk out in the world. If those that have gone on before could come and warn you they would, but they can't so I will. It is not worth facing Jesus one day and being cast into hell with Buddha. Just because these people have good philosophies do not make them followers of Christ. Do you still believe in the Bible? If not, you have serious eternal issues to consider. I love you Chad and would do anything for you. You know that. All I ask is that you read God's word, commentaries, and anything else that will help you to see that all of these other beliefs are false gods. If you follow them, well, I think you know enough of scripture to know what will happen. My heart is heavy right now. Your mom loves you more than anyone in the world which is why I have to be honest with you about how I am worried about your christian faith right now. Please don't let other beliefs steal that from you....and it can very easily.
To which I responded:
I know my beliefs, and I'm secure in them. I think you're missing the point of the article. It's not talking about worshipping Buddha (which, honestly, most Buddhists don't believe they're worshipping him either for that matter, more like following his example - they never claim he's a god, and don't really have a specific required belief in God, which is why many Christians agree with their philosophies as well), or Vishnu, or whoever. But yoga and most other meditation techniques that have become commonly used in the US are from those Asian religions, and when people say they get a spiritual experience from them, they are meaning that those practices have made them feel more connected with God and relaxed, in the same way more traditional prayer (which they also practice) does. God never says we *always* have to use words to pray. If God indeed knows what we are thinking and what's in our hearts, then to me, the meditation and yoga, etc. mentioned in this article is just a way of praying without words.
Now, I obviously didn't go into my practice of Gnosticism or my connection to Paganism via Druidry. Or the fact that I'm still on the fence about whether I see Brighid and my other patrons as saints or deities. I didn't feel the need to. But inwardly, I did notice the almost total lack of emotion I felt during the whole exchange. This time two years ago - heck, even one year ago - I would've become frustrated and felt offended that I can't get her to respect my point of view. This time, I just didn't care. I just stated my points, clicked "send", end of story. I tried to be succinct, simple, and respectful, yet still standing up for myself. But at the same time, I didn't care either. Maybe I've finally realized that she's always going to be how she is, she's never going to understand me, and she's always going to try to force her views onto me. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I'm having a Zen moment, where for once I don't let the actions of others dictate my emotions. And maybe, just maybe, I've finally begun to mature as a person. And for that, I thank God. And Buddha.