Christian Yogini

I have a good friend who is concerned that my yoga practice is a threat to my Christian faith.  I appreciate his concern, and his courage in speaking up, but my own feeling is that my yoga practices enhances my faith.

Yoga isn’t generally considered a religion, but it has its own sacred texts, and it does have shared roots with ancient Hinduism.  I do think that if you are serious about staying on a Christian path, it is good to be aware that your yoga practice is rooted in another faith tradition, and to be very mindful and intentional about the impact of your practice on your spiritual state.

Yoga calms my tendency to be tense, rushed and reactive.  My twice-daily yoga practice (sometimes it is an hour, sometimes only 5 minutes of sun salutations or pranayama, but ALWAYS twice a day) quiets my mind for prayer and keeps me centered on my intentions on all but the most stressful days (honestly, there are some days that just defeat me).

For me, yoga is also a form of worship.  I  love living in a body in a physical world.  When my yoga practice is going really well, it feels like an offering of joy to the God who Augustine says “sang” the universe into existence.  Sometimes I feel that song humming through my own muscles and sinews.   Sometimes when I’m outdoors in a beautiful place, I feel moved to strike a yoga pose that expresses my thankfulness for my life in this world.   I am very clear on which God I’m thanking, and I don’t think He rejects my offering.

 


Saint Augustine quote of the week

“As love grows in you, beauty grows, too, for love is the beauty of the soul.”


RELIGIOUS OVERTONES IN THE SAINT’S MISTRESS

One of my readers recently questioned me about the religious overtones in my book.  As I indicated in my post about how I handled Christian conversion, this was an aspect of the book that I really struggled with.

I’m a Christian, but I didn’t write the book to evangelize for Christianity.  I wrote it to tell a story that I thought was interesting.

Of course, when you’re writing about Saint Augustine, there is no avoiding the topic of religion!  And one of the things that made me want to tell this story was that it takes place in at an interesting period in Church history, and one that is little-explored in fiction:  that turning point right after Christianity became the state religion, when the early Church was establishing orthodoxy and still battling the last vestiges of paganism, that hinge between the ancient and medieval worlds.

I took Augustine at his word in portraying his spiritual journey.  He well described in the Confessions how he was entranced first by the pagan philosophers, then by Manicheism, then by neo-Platonism, before accepting Christianity.  I portray him as a young man of enthusiasms, a passionate seeker of truth, who is ultimately made the great leader he longed to be only when he attaches himself to something larger than himself.  I’ll put it out there:  my position, as a Christian, is that God made use of him.  But you could also read my portrayal of him as a man who came into his own as he matured and subsumed his ego in a larger cause.  Again, I was not trying to evangelize.  I was trying to portray my character in a way that was true to my understanding of him.

I could take Leona in any direction I wanted, since she left no record of herself.  And, as with Augustine, I tried to write her true to how I imagined her.

Inevitably, though, my Christian bias probably comes through, and I don’t apologize for that.  One of the things I’m interested in doing in my writing is to explore questions of faith.  There are plenty of books that portray Christianity in a cynical light.  And there is plenty of Christian fiction that portrays Christianity completely uncritically:  Jesus fixes everything, The End. I plan a future post on my objections to Christian fiction.  What I try to do is write from the questions, not from either cynical or uncritical answers.


Saint Augustine quote of the week

You aspire to great things


Christianity and Climate Change

Christians tend to get a bad rap for being anti-science – and, sadly, that bad rap is often justified.  As a Christian who is very concerned about climate change (Helloooooo…. right in Genesis it says God created this world and pronounced it good, so we are seriously going to just trash it?!), Katharine Hayhoe is now my official hero: Climate change hero

Here’s a link to her book on Goodreads: Climate for Change


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