Sep 29, 2010
East meets west. There’s some wariness at first. But they end up liking each other.
As well all know, mathematics is dangerous — especially trigonometry. Rooted as it is in ancient Greek religious practice, young minds exposed to mathematics become open to unwholesome — possibly demonic — spiritual influences. Nah, just joking. The bit about math being rooted in religion is true, naturally, but the possibility that the hypotenuse is the straight line to hell seems far-fetched, to say the least. But Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler believes something very similar about yoga, according to an article in the Clarion Ledger. Yoga comes from the Hindu tradition, but of course dressing in a leotard and stretching your hamstrings doesn’t strike most people as much more than a way of calming down and getting in shape. As the article says, “Mohler’s posture has drawn a mix of bafflement and criticism from those who practice yoga, which is taught in many churches and which many people see as unrelated to its ancient roots in India.”
But coincidentally, Dr. Michelle Belfer Friedman, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and the director of pastoral counseling at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, has a column in The Jewish Week, offering advice to a woman who’s worried about her husband’s dabbling in yoga and meditation. Dr. Friedman’s advice — basically talk to your husband and get to know what he likes about his new pastime — is very sound.
A less fraught east-meets-west story is to be found in Massachusetts, where a Thai sangha have just been granted permission to build a 60 foot Theravadin temple, complete with a golden spire. The photograph in the article looks lovely, and apparently there were no objections raised at the planning meeting.
And the interfaith harmony goodness extends to North Carolina, where Pitt County Memorial Hospital has just dedicated an ecumenical chapel. The new chapel cost 2.3 million dollars and was built thanks to private donations.