Tai Chi and Christianity – are they really incompatible?

Now, I’m no expert on either Tai Chi or Christianity but that’s never stopped me having an opinion before.;)

So when I read this story about a group of mainly senior citizens being thrown out of a church hall for practicing Tai Chi it made me think. The Pastor of the Church was quite happy to let them use the church hall for two years, believing that it was gentle exercise to help arthritis. So what changed? The name of the group changed from Arthritis Tasmania to the completely subversive Tai Chi Level 2. Now, and I will remind you that I’m no expert, apparently Tai Chi is all about Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Silly me I thought it was about gentle exercise which, surprisingly enough, might help ease arthritis. As Taoism and Zen Buddhism are Eastern, other and apparently completely anathema to the Church, the seniors had to go. Too much meditation and letting go of control and emptying of the mind for the Christians. They would rather you remained uptight. Although I’m not sure how they reconcile prayer, and giving yourself up to faith, and putting yourself in the hands of God with retaining complete control. Maybe they haven’t heard of religious ecstacy? It just seemed a bit OTT to react this way to a group of people indulging in some gentle exercise and meditation. I would have thought that would be good for the soul.

Categories: Culture, ethics & philosophy, health, religion, social justice

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11 replies

  1. I read that too Mindy. Then I looked up, and read, this.

    The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religious belief, affiliation and religious activity in the following areas:

    Provision of facilities, goods and services – this includes access and use of public places, transportation and travel and private or government service providers.

    I’d say how they reconcile prayer and control is less important than how they reconcile their provision of a service with their legal responsibilities.

  2. They’ve got to draw the line in the sand now, before someone wants to hold a yoga group at the church.

  3. They would probably claim an exemption as a religious organisation. Still, they make themselves look pretty silly.

  4. To be a bit less glib, there are some fundamentalist Christians who believe that meditation opens the mind to unwholesome influences — in some cases, literal demons — and leads to occult beliefs. For those fundamentalists, “occult” includes anything other than their narrow brand of Christianity. Here in the US, there are some Christians who oppose moments of silence in schools for just such a reason.
    Which is really just adding more rationale/ization to “Too much meditation and letting go of control and emptying of the mind for the Christians. They would rather you remained uptight. “

  5. Years ago my mother tried to organise yoga classes in her small country town using the local church hall. Local god squad visited her to stage an INTERVENTION “Did she know she was inviting “The Serpent” into town with her encouragement of “alternative”’ activities.
    BWAH HAHAHAHA. We still get a laugh out of that.
    Anyhow local health workers just renamed it as “Relaxation and Stretching exercises for older people”.
    I was pissed, I wanted to get a look at this infamous serpent!

  6. The church I used to be part of (in another lifetime!) was much like what notgruntled describes. I am SO glad I escaped with my brain still intact…
    There was a myriad of things we weren’t allowed to do, including entering any shop that sold crystals or tarot cards. There is a little shop in town (small country town) I was too terrified to enter for years after leaving the church.

  7. Notgrundled beat me to about everything I was going to say.

    In the church I went to (in another lifetime also) preached adamantly against Yoga and Tai Chi b/c it opened your mind and body to evil spirits.

    And here, I thought it was just a nice, easy going exercise that my body can handle on low pain day to keep me moving.


  8. Back in my Salvation Army days one of the Corps leaders told me I was bad for being a Star Wars fan, as The Force was a Pagan concept and Teh Evil.

  9. I can beat that purrdence! Back in the day I played Dungeons & Dragons and got to go on the 7.30 Report to be told by the preacher who wanted to ban spooky spaghetti (for its occult imagery) that I was going to hell because of it. Originally it was supposed to be a ‘debate’, but obviously we had very different definitions of the word.
    As a relatively religious person myself, I wouldn’t mind those who are born again so much if only their brain survived the process. My sister-in-law was one of these. We were watching a news story announcing an upcoming visit by the Dalai Lama when she calmly announced to the family that he was a servant of satan.

  10. Ah, that sounds like some of my Aunties. They give Ned Flanders a run for his money. They’d be right up there kicking elderly Tai Chi people of their church hall too.

  11. Our religion teacher at school (and I use the word teacher in its loosest possible sense) told us that if we meditated we would “open ourselves up” and that “evil spirits” could then “enter us”.
    Perhaps that’s where I went wrong…
    Rebekka’s last blog post..People in history were real people

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