|Father R. Kennedy, SJ - Zen|
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Islamic war against snowmen. Today, I bring you the Roman Catholic Church’s war against yoga.
It appears that many priests, up to and including the Pope, accept the notion that yoga meditation is infringing on and redirecting the Catholic faithful from the Church. It appears that individual forms of meditation, which exclude formal Catholic doctrine, is viewed ecumenically as a real and growing threat to the billion plus member Church whose wealth and income, while never fully disclosed, is estimated to be in the multi-billions as well.
To bolster the Church’s position on denigrating yoga and other peaceful forms of meditation, Pope Francis has been quoted as follows:
“…A person can take a thousand catechism courses, spirituality courses, yoga courses, or Zen courses, but none of those things would free the person to be like a child of God.“
While this may seem like a situation based more on a falsely humorous story or Internet hoax the sad truth is…well…this is Catholic doctrinal truth.
According to the Church’s ultimate leader, forms of meditation outside doctrine essentially leaves one hollow and spiritually lacking. I’m sure Sam Harris would disagree, as would many of the Catholic faithful (and those of other faiths) who also practice yoga and other forms of meditation.
But this is another indication of the Church's hostility towards ways of knowing outside its teachings. And we must see and call these constricting ideas for what they are - forms of intellectual imperialism. In fact the Pope’s view may be just a few shades lighter then those who practice more overtly violent faiths. This is because the aim is the same. Beheading a person or censoring curiosity for the sake of religious doctrine each lead to a deadened brain.
Clearly from an economic, political and market share perspective there is a lot on the line for the Catholic Church to rebuff yoga and Zen. The Church is organized religion’s version of Apple computer, Toyota, and Coca Cola. Market leaders who want to see their brand remain number one. So for church leadership, the doctrine of personal salvation through any philosophy or belief outside their interpretation is discounted and seen as an imposition to their religious ideology and goals.
If you thought this Pope was really a liberalizer and perhaps a bit more of a freethinker please think again. While the window dressing has changed, the core beliefs and the religious intolerance related to other faiths, differing philosophical ideas and beliefs and the acceptance of secularism has not occurred and cannot happen no matter who holds the title of Vicar of Christ.
|Guess Who Scares All|
Organized Western Religions?
Change really cannot happen because then it wouldn’t be the Church. It is a huge ship to turn in any one direction and after 2,000 years of spiritual rule, it can only feed upon itself since its teachings, mission, raison d'être, are all combined in an identity which is self-serving and irresponsive to change unless it is directly threatened.
If the Church was a truly nimble organization there wouldn’t have been a child abuse scandal and women would have been allowed to preach long ago. When the church moves towards secular points of view, it does so through the kaleidoscope of a complex faith doctrine that attempts to associate and infuse some ideas but still firmly remains staunched in religiously spiritual metaphysics. Think of the Catholic Church trying to be an all-vegan McDonalds. Such a change is never going to happen.
Of course if these were private beliefs no one would care. But the sad thing is that these anti-humanistic beliefs shared on high by the Church leadership are then taken and used by people to justify their violent actions. In the most extreme the Church has never taken responsibility or been held to account for its role in the Rwandan genocide, something that the Church fomented for decades. The Church seems to have dodged a bullet (or machete?) in being a root cause of the violence.
There is a news report coming from Texas where a woman set fire to a yoga studio to, in her words, “banish the demons.” Clearly the woman is unbalanced but her goal was simple, destroy the devil.
This is the central problem with faith-based views of the world. I’m guessing the Pope and his emissaries would never suggest direct violence in this way. BUT because faith is an interpretation of reality rather than reality itself, all it takes is one aggressive, indoctrinated or mentally ill true believer to think they’re doing god’s bidding when they harm others and they will do so willfully and with distinction.