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News You Don't Say

Declare peace for Christmas

I stumbled across an article from the summer recounting that a judge in California was accused of anti-Christian bias because he upheld the teaching of yoga in phys ed classes in the public schools. 

There is, you may not be aware, a certain amount of carrying-on in certain Christian quarters about the perceived threat that the practice of yoga will indoctrinate their children into Hinduism. This concern is prevalent among people who appear to adhere to no other traditions than nineteenth-century evangelicalism, twentieth-century fundamentalism, and a touching belief that the Lord of Hosts takes an interest in high school athletic competitions. 

They would appeart to be ignorant, for example of the Hesychasts of Mount Athos, who treated the Jesus Prayer as a kind of mantra, adopted a posture for prayer, and practiced controlled breathing.

The physical, mechanical techniques of mysticism are not limited to one tradition, and can, in fact, be practiced in a purely secular manner. 

But we see a good deal alarm these days in those Christian quarters that feel that their right to free expression of belief is curtailed because they are not permitted to forcibly impose their beliefs on others. 

The really ugly times in the history of Christianity have come about when the Church reached for the secular arm. No need even to bring up the Inquisition. Think about how long the dear old C of E countenanced and approved of the disfranchisement of Roman Catholics and Jews. 

We can expect to hear much, once the gluttony and commercial excesses of the coming weekend have run their course, of the supposed "war on Christmas," of the menace implicit in a clerk's wishing you "Happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."*

I go back to Paul Johnson's argument in his history of Christianity that the success of the early Church, before it became entangled with the state, rose from the example its members set, for their care for one another, their charity and concern for the poor and the sick. And if you look at the great nineteen-century text on Christmas, how does the reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge keep Christmas? By acts of generosity and goodwill. 

It seems to me that if believers really want to win over the secular world, instead of railing against it and entertaining themselves with campaigns against imaginary threats, they would do well to practice mercy, compassion, and good works.  

 

 

*It may be complicated this season by outrage over the recent discovery by the Bishop of Rome that Christianity and capitalism are not coterminous. Might even displace some of the hysteria onver creeping Shariah law. 

 

 

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