I read this fascinating post today on Care2 about Christians and the practice of yoga.
In Delia Quigley's piece posted Sept. 25, "Christian Belief Misunderstands Yoga," Quigley opens with:
As more people are experiencing the benefits of yoga, Christian leaders are telling their flock that yoga will lead them astray. I’ve heard this before, actually 30 years ago when I began a serious practice of yoga. According to the Christians I encountered at the time yoga was considered an abomination, a link to the devil. I was damned for practicing it and I was doubly damned for walking away from the Church. I was pretty well damned, and yet I knew in my heart that it brought me closer to the divine.
She goes on to quote Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as saying this week via a USA Today story:
“Most [Christians who practice yoga] seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.”
Ultimately yoga is not about the physical body, but about revealing one’s true self and one’s connection to God, regardless of one’s religion.
I've participated in yoga classes here in the Springs with both Christians and those of other faiths, and I've never heard talk of this. But then, a quick search for "yoga" on the websites for both New Life Church and Focus on the Family comes up blank.
What do you think? Can you practice yoga as a Christian?
From the daily online magazine Religion Dispatches, a story today on Germany-based FIAA GmbH releasing the beta version of The Bible Online: Heroes, the first installment of a projected series of MMORTS (massively multiplayer online real-time strategy) “games” based on the Bible — with an RPG (role-playing game) component.
As the article says:
The game appears to be similar in some ways to Civilization-style games, a type of “god-game” in which players manage decisions from a privileged vantage point while the game’s algorithms determine success or failure based on both strategy and luck.
Some of the more intriguing ideas brought up by the article involve concepts of choice and "theologically loaded events." Will I, playing Abraham (as a woman — which could be challenging in itself), be required to start a sacrifice of Isaac? Can I commit blasphemy via chats with other players? How exactly do you win in the land of Canaan?
It will be fascinating to see how the game’s dynamics handle the problem of divine inevitability and human interaction, especially as it relates to the fixed narrative of the Bible itself. The “About” feature of the nascent website tells us that the game “is designed for users to actually experience the Book of Genesis by fulfilling quests of Abraham, which is based on the true stories of the Genesis [sic].” In order not to offend most Christians, the game will have to leave the biblical narrative intact and only allow interactivity in the narrative gaps in the biblical text, making the game potentially midrashic in performance.
Read the whole piece here.
Voting starts today in the 2010 Best Of Colorado Springs readers' poll. And just for telling us what you like in food, nightlife, media and more, you get a chance to win an Apple iPad.
The earlier you vote, the more chances you have to win; we'll be drawing a voter's name each week. For more, watch the video below.
Almost three decades before the Twilight phenomenon, author Anne Rice brought millions into the underground of the damned with Interview With a Vampire, the first of nearly 25 related (and best-selling) novels. And then, five years ago, to the surprise of many, she changed direction, committing herself to writing only about Jesus Christ.
Last Wednesday, Rice quit Christianity, announcing it via Facebook:
For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
She followed it up with a second status update:
As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
This comment was "liked" by over 3,300 of her Facebook followers. But the conversation didn't end there. On Thursday she posted:
My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
The topic is being followed by believers and non-believers. She's receiving many kudos on her Facebook page — including an invitation from the United Church of Christ to join them, and the development of a Facebook campaign: "You'd Like the UCC, Anne Rice" — but she's also been the focus of various negative posts and YouTube videos making such claims as "Anne Rice Rejects Christ Goes to HELL."
Rice was quite gracious to the poster of this video, stating on Facebook:
And here is some more response on Youtube to my rejection of Christianity, in the name of Christ, and I thank these people too.
But as ParlezMoiPress commented on Saturday in the first note below the video on YouTube:
I think the version of "Christianity" being promoted in this video is EXACTLY what Anne Rice decided to leave.
Though Rice hasn't given any indication as to whether or not "leaving Christianity" will affect her choice of future writings, she does have a recent video posted on her YouTube page, from May (see below), in which she talks about the modern vampire ... and gives those of us who loved her former works a little faith that maybe, just maybe, someday she'll return to the genre.
Colorado Springs' favorite crazy protesters, Westboro Baptist Church and leader Fred Phelps, may have met their match in San Diego on Thursday.
The Westboro folks were at the 2010 Comic-Con International, which ended last night, to fight ... well, let's let their press release tell it:
"Comic Con is an excuse for whores to wear skimpy get-ups (as if they don't already) without censure & for emulating rebels to compare costumes. Yikes. Put away your action figures & get about the business of serving your God. ... You idolaters have far too much time on your hands! Get on with some sober obeying; the time is short. ... YOU'RE GOING TO HELL."
They were met by some of the most rabid of costumers, comic-book fans. The counter-protesters came geeked-out in superhero and other such regalia, with satirical signs that exclaimed lines like: "Superman died for my sins" and "God loves gay Robin." Their chanting cried out to the heavens:
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
Comics Alliance reported on the events with photos and video here.
And in case you were wondering, Westboro's upcoming protests include Justin Bieber's July 28 concert at the Sprint Center in Kansas City ("Justin Bieber has a platform given to him by God to speak to this world; he has a duty to teach obedience by his actions and words. He refuses to do that because he knows his concert halls would be empty!") and Lady Gaga's concert at the same venue on Aug. 3 ("WBC to picket simple slut Lady Gaga at the Sprint Center with a simple message for her young victims: GAGA HATES YOU!")
The exiled New Life Church founder stepped briefly back into the spotlight last November with a couple of informal prayer meetings, which were then put on indefinite hold when the Haggards went out on the road to publicize wife Gayle's New York Times best-seller Why I Stayed.
But for the past six weeks, the Haggards have been hosting backyard Sunday services under the auspices of their newly incorporated St. James Church. And while the Pikes Peak Center's 250-capacity Studio Bee is still a far cry from the 5,000-plus New Life facilities, it's been often noted that the North Colorado Springs mega-church got its start in the Haggard family basement 26 years ago. As Haggard told the Indy prior to the new church's launch, "We're not going to start and stop. We're in."
Haggard, who refers to his parishioners as "Saints," has also devised a kind of lottery in which a randomly selected congregant chooses how to distribute a portion of the week's tithings. (A bit complicated to explain, but you can read the details in our interview here.
"Last week's benevolence giving went to The Shove Chapel Soup Kitchen. I love seeing God's money actually doing GOD'S WORK!!!!!! Yes!," enthused Haggard in a July 10 post.
God only knows where it'll all go from here: "I want to foster an atmosphere where people see one another with compassion and feel what each other is going through," Haggard told the Indy last month, "instead of judging, evaluating or analyzing. I think that may be important, that function, but it's just not for me anymore. I'm finished with it."
Sorry, James Dobson, but your assertion that lesbian parents will screw up their kids isn't true.
In fact, a recent study shows kids that have two moms may actually be better adjusted than their peers — that's especially true if they didn't have a daddy. Read it and weep: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37553783/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/
On the other hand, casual observation would suggest that having straight, cultishly-Christian parents can screw you up. Or even threaten your health.
Remember Colleen Hauser, who fled across the country with her cancer-stricken 13-year-old son, Danny, last year? She was trying to avoid giving him the chemo that would save his life, because Colleen thought God was going to cure Danny. In the end, the Hausers were found and doctors saved Danny's life.
Your lives are about to change forever, my friends, for such is the power of the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey.
For those who may not know, this spunky viral godsend was first made manifest by MorningStar, a South Carolina-based healing ministry that is not affiliated with the Morningstar line of fine sausage products. The ministry's Web site also features videos entitled "Tumor Desolved" and "Tim - Healed Of Life - Long Neck Pain."
The Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey was first revealed to me by the Springs’ own Kevin Beck, who posts about music, Jesus and stuff on his Transmillenial blog. He, in turn, contracted it from Matthew Paul Turner (good Christian name, that), who curates the Jesus Needs New PR site. While I’m now eternally indebted to each of these gentlemen, I must confess to being at a loss as to why they choose to look askance at miracles so clearly begat.
Fear not, though. For while Kevin and Matthew may still be skeptics, just by spreading this video, they too are now vessels of the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey. So pull the string, click the arrow, and release your glory!
More fun with white people here:
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights will not — I repeat, will not — demand a congressional probe over a perceived insult to Christians in the aftermath of a mini-scandal that erupted at the Air Force Academy due to a cross being left at a new outdoor prayer circle.
The Denver Post reports that the heart of the perceived insult boils down to the characterization by Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael Gould that the placement of the cross was "destructive behavior."
[League president Bill] Donohue then issued a statement complaining that Gould's comparison of the cross incident to other acts of vandalism was "overkill" and "grossly insulting to Catholics and Protestants."
Apparently a chaplain at the Academy convinced officials with the Catholic League that a probe isn't needed.
Hmm, that sounds surprisingly reasonable.
In his blog, "The Barr Code," Barr states that the AFA's installation of a pagan worship circle is "truly hilarious." He goes on to state, "[I]f I were in the Air Force and was being commanded by an officer who practices hedonism as a religion (another part of the definition of “pagan”), and who dances around a circle of stones in the woods carrying a lighted candle, I would be more than a little worried about following him into battle."
That rant inspired commenter "Sean Burke" to quip, "As opposed to a belief that a great man in the sky produced a human son through virgin birth who can be consumed every seven days in the form of wafers and wine? The fact I voted for you in 2008 now embarrasses me."
According to Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who heads a pagan group on the AFA campus, the blog post has created quite a stir locally. There are well over 200 comments on the blog post.
This might sound surprising to many Colorado Springs residents, but a poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life puts our fair state near the bottom of the heap according to several measures of religiosity.
According to the graphic above, Colorado ranks 43rd (out of 46 total, since some smaller states were merged for the purposes of the poll) in terms of how often residents attend religious services, with only 22 percent saying they go weekly.
In spite of all the focus on families around here, (and, yes, the presence in the state of religious organizations such as Focus on the Family) the national average, as you can see, is nearly twice as high, at 39 percent.
In other measures, 63 percent of Coloradans said the believe in God, for a ranking of 39.
The Denver Post's David Harsanyi offers his take on the poll here.
Coming out of England and gaining support here — an idea, for those of us so predisposed— on how to observe Lent.
Rather than the usual denial of desserts, alcohol, and other indulgences during these 40-plus days, the idea is to reduce our carbon footprint by such simple tasks such as removing light bulbs, changing modes of transportation, being a vegetarian for two days a week, buying locally produced goods and food, etc.
It's been a tough couple years for Grace Episcopal Church, including the effort to preserve its historic buildings. The picture below shows McWilliams House, which was built in 1899 and houses the church offices, back in November 2008 when the Rev. Don Armstrong still ran the place under a conservative branch of the Anglican Church called CANA. (For on the long dispute over ownership of the the church, start with this story.)
No, those posts you see in the photo aren't there for decoration.
Anyway, the folks who stuck with the Episcopal Church eventually got the place back, and now they've been awarded a $170,000 grant from the State Historical Fund to bring the place back to its former glory. The church is planning to kick in about $114,000 more, and work is scheduled to begin this summer.
You may want to sit down before you read this.
The U.S. Air Force Academy is constructing a worship circle for Earth-centered religions on the hill overlooking the Cadet Chapel and Visitors Center.
Seriously. We kid you not. It's supposed to be finished on March 10. If you don't believe us, you can check here.
Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who identifies as a witch (meaning he has pagan and earth-worshipping beliefs, not that he can fly on a broom), is quoted as saying:
"There really haven't been any obstacles for the new circle. The chaplain's office has been 100-percent supportive."
So anyway, in case you didn't already know, the AFA hasn't exactly earned a reputation for tolerance.
There was the Mikey Weinstein debacle a few years ago. Weinstein (who along with his dad and sons represents three generations of military academy graduates) was enraged when his son told him that he was being harassed while attending the AFA. The young man said he had been called, among other things, "a fucking Jew." Weinstein went for the jugular, and ended up embarrassing the AFA into some reforms.
Still, last year AFA officials refused to allow atheist writer Christopher Hitchens to speak on campus last year.
And let's face it, the military as a whole doesn't have the greatest reputation on these issues. The AFA Web page, for instance, notes that a pagan worship circle was built in Fort Hood, Texas in 1999.
"The Fort Hood Open Circle was vandalized on four separate occasions from 1999 to 2000, including an incident Oct. 27, 2000, in which the half-ton limestone altar was destroyed outright," the site notes.
So if anyone sees a bulldozer on the hill above the Chapel, I guess we'll know why.
If you suspect your child is a kleptomaniac (you can review the 12 warning signs here), it’s best not to take them to the Fine Arts Center’s Glass Corridor next Thursday, Dec. 17, when a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex will be making appearances from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
We only mention this because one of the animatronic creatures from the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs tour was already stolen during a stop in Mexico last Friday. It would do Colorado Springs’ reputation no good to have the same thing happen here.
For those who do have trust-worthy offspring, the up-close promotional appearance (as well as the full-blown Walking the Dinosaurs performance that comes to the World Arena from January 21-24 — monster trucks may or may not open the show) is really a perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about the relative merits of creationism versus evolution. What better time, in fact, to introduce thm to a two-and-a-half hour video of Creation Scientist Kent Hovind Revealing The Truth About Dinosaurs And Evolution:
... or, for that matter, the late comedian Bill Hicks’ commentary on attempts to explain away the absence of two-story-high reptiles from the Bible:
“Dinosaur fossils? God put those here to test our faith." Does that trouble anyone here? The idea that God … might be ... f—-in' with our heads? I have trouble sleeping with that knowledge. Some prankster God running around: "Hu hu ho. We will see who believes in me now, ha HA."
The educational opportunities are clearly enormous. Be sure to watch this blog for more breaking dinosaur updates and helpful parenting advice.