Saturday, November 17, 2018
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Here's one claim about yoga poses: "They were designed, they were created with demonic intent, to open you up to demonic power because Hinduism is demonic..."
It may be possible to dismiss Rev. Lindell as an extremist except, we find other leaders in other Christian groups (e.g., Catholic) have said the same thing. (Lindell is an Assemblies of God pastor).
But is yoga just really exercise like walking? Isn't it possible to move a body in certain ways whilst a person is engaged or not engaged in a variety of religious thoughts or experiences?
Long ago, in the unwritten antediluvian past, humans evolved skeletons that supported their ability to stand on two legs. No more scampering about like chimps. Ancient humans learned to stand up, look around, and use their hands for all sorts of activities while walking.
Demonizing the practices of people in other cultures and religions can produce fear and distrust of people who hold different beliefs, which interferes with friendly relationships. In fact, Christians have killed people suspected of consorting with evil spirits.
I do not believe Rev. Lindell intends to harm Hindus or people who practice yoga. However, if you believe language can influence behavior, I think one must be careful to show respect for people who have different beliefs and customs.
The Lindell sermon page refers to various scriptures cited to support the pastor's view that Christians ought to be wary of the devil. For example, there's a list of "8 Things We Know About Satan."
That concept of "We Know" is of course a matter of how Christians interpret the Bible texts and use their reason to apply old texts to modern life--matters like yoga and meditation that are not mentioned in the Bible.
Who cares about one man's sermon? Well, those who practice yoga in the Ozarks care. Early reports indicate some businesses were negatively affected. But Rev. Lindell is not alone in his views.
According to Relevant Magazine, Clergyman Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, preached a sermon titled, "Jesus and Demons." Driscoll also denounced yoga as demonic (seattlepi).
Go back a few years and find a story in the Independent about an Irish priest, Father Roland Colhoun, who warned people against a path leading into "the bad spiritual domain" and "Satan and The Fallen Angels."
An even stronger position against yoga is that of Catholic leaders (See Amorth note below).
Father Colhoun is not alone, within the Catholic Church, in his suspicions of Yoga as a potential source for evil. In 2011, the Vatican’s own chief exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, told The Telegraph that it leads to a belief in Hinduism, and that "all eastern religions are based on false belief in reincarnation"."Practising yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter", he added.
And the late former Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, warned Christians that yoga, Zen, and other forms of transcendental meditation could "degenerate into a cult of the body" that devalues prayer.
Choosing to avoid yoga or other practices linked to various religions should cause no concern in countries where there is freedom of religion and where the rule of law protects people and their religious practices from those who might attack people of minority faiths as perceived enemies.
A different warning. Guiding followers in how to practice their faith is certainly a part of freedom of religion and free speech. But responsible leaders must be mindful that some demonizing and proclamations of evil can incite people to action against the perceived enemies of Christendom or another faith. It's happened before. It can happen again.
I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's advice to Christians worried about eating meat sacrificed to idols.
Avoid yoga if you wish. But consider that not even God sent "his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17; NIV). Oh, and don't forget that previous, and oft quoted verse, John 3: 16-- the one about God loving the world. In this case, it would be a good idea to love those who believe and behave in different ways.
Note on Amorth: The quote from the Independent referred to well-known priest, Bariele Amorth. A comment on the 2016 documentary notes that Father Amorth was never attached to the Holy See but to the Diocese of Rome-he had no special title (Greydanus, 2018).
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Thursday, August 9, 2018
You will read articles about the importance of accountability. I agree, that’s a good thing. Every church must have a strong board with board members equal to the task of confronting their pastors. Pastors also need accountability pastors. All leaders need accountability partners.
If you are ever in a church where the congregation applauds the pastor as if he were a celebrity, you might expect trouble. A clergy friend of mine said all pastors are narcissists. That might be a stretch. But perhaps we should consider that those with certain personality traits will harm others and themselves. Darrell Puls (AACC, 2017) reports survey data indicating 31.2% of pastors score in the diagnostic range for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It seems my friend was close to right—even if he exaggerated a bit.
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Manage the Balance of Power
In a humble person, legitimate power can be a good thing. People need leaders to accomplish many tasks, including guiding the faithful in churches and Christian organizations. We know power can be abused. Thus, wise groups establish checks and balances to limit the potential for the abuse of power. Senior pastors have power, which must be checked by strong boards and leadership teams empowered to speak up when they disagree with a strong leader. Too often Christians view dissent as questioning God’s anointed or view consensus as evidence that God’s spirit is working in the group.
Religion by nature is conservative. Christianity is no exception. Traditional male leadership is the norm. A pastor’s authority is often respected as God-ordained. The markers of conservative morality are three: Authority, Loyalty, and Purity. These virtues bind people together in community. When a trusted and respected leader is under fire for any reason, the community binds together to support their leader and their own identity. To balance this conservative triad, church leaders need to include people with strong foundations in two other moral dimensions of Care and Fairness. The latter two aspects of morality are common among those who focus on caring for those harmed by abuse and advocate for the equal treatment of those who are disadvantaged. They may not be favorite people of those focused on authority, loyalty, and purity concerns (Read more, Sutton, 2016).
I empathize with those who argue that problems like those at Willow Creek are not sex problems. The same kinds of arguments are made in regard to the #metoo movement. I’m concerned that the sex problem is minimized.
In recent decades, forgiveness has taken on some characteristics of a fad as psychological science has established support for a practice mandated in the Bible. The problem is not forgiving a fallen leader but what people think forgiveness entails. Forgiveness does not mean reconciling with an abuser nor does it mean restoring a leader to leadership.
Forgiveness, like the sabbath, is made for people. Forgiveness allows the victim to be freed from the burden of the past. Forgiveness does not mean setting an abuser free to abuse others. Forgiveness is not excusing an offense.
In recent years, especially as a result of the #metoo movement, many men who would not think of engaging in sexual activity with another woman at work have become more aware of less overt ways that harassment can occur.
Sexually abused people may react to touch differently than those who have not been abused.
I place this last because many Christians believe that the answer to sin problems is more Bible study and prayer. The challenge to this belief comes from evidence that so many clergy have problems of sexual boundary violations with congregants. And that does not include all the leaders in the church. It is hard to believe that all of these fallen leaders failed to engage in Bible study and prayer. In fact, some fallen leaders are well known for their Bible teaching. So, do not discount bible study and prayer and do not discount the importance of other ways to set boundaries and keep leaders on track.
As we consider the detructive effects on the people involved in any leadership failure, let's not forget to help those who have been hurt. Recovering from moral injury usually takes time and involves support. Pastoral counselors and Christian counselors and psychotherapists may be needed when support from family and friends is not enough. We should also remember that some will need practical support when they have lost employment.
Pop, J. L., Sutton, G.W., & Jones, E.G. (2009). Restoring pastors following a moral failure: The effects of self-interest and group influence, , 57, 275-284.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018
So, I plotted the years women won the right to vote in their nations against the distance (km) their nations are from the Vatican based on Google maps.
I should point out that the data vary depending on the source. For example, only some UK women won the right to vote in 1918. Also, the Russian revolution was linked to a few other countries in 1917 (e.g., Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine). And I did not list all the central European countries for 1918 (e.g., Austria, Germany, Poland etc.) vote in 1918.
You will also find that some localities included women in various nations during the 1800s. The bottom line is that the trend will vary depending what you include.
The correlation for these results is -.86 suggesting in the early years, the further nations were from the Vatican, the traditional center of Christianity for centuries, the more likely they were to support equality for women when it comes to voting rights.
Here's the data if you wish to work out a more complex chart with more nations or parts of nations.
|Nation||Year women vote||Distance from Vatican||Capital City|
|Pearson r =||-0.86|
The interpretation is open to different perspectives. And of course you could argue that it's just spurious.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
But perhaps you wondered about what kind of sex and gender rules they will live by after seeing this post by Molly Worthen of the NYT (2 June 2018).
"Sex and Gender on the
I suppose evangelical Christian colleges and universities will continue to make headlines as long as people assume everyone is heterosexual and abstinent unless they are married.
Silence is not an option. Christian colleges and universities must learn lessons from the #metoo movement. (See Griswold 2018 for example)
"Sex Offenders Groom Churches Too"
Meanwhile, realistically, parents, students, faculty, staff, administrators, and board members ought to realize that Christians, whether at school, work, or church, deal with sexuality in many of its forms of expression.
Adultery See Christianity Today Lifeway Survey
Rape and Sexual Violence (See for example, Thornbury, Christianity Today, 2014)
Sexual Harassment in so many ways (See Christianity Today 16 Nov 2017)
Unwed and pregnant (See for example, Inside Higher Education 23 March 2017)
Pornography (See Barna Porn study 2016)
And some feel a great deal of guilt and shame.
But, it's not all bad. There's plenty of what you'd expect at a Christian university. There are lots of students, faculty, staff, and administrators who love God and love people.
There are folks who are sincerely committed to a life of integrity. There are positive role models. There are people who treat each other with respect and demonstrate healthy boundaries when it comes to relationships.
You can find love and romance. You can find good friends that will last a lifetime. It's true. My wife and I met in a Christian college. And we still have good friends and good memories from those years many decades ago.
As with many places in life, each of us makes a contribution to the organizational climate. We make choices favoring love, respect, joy, happiness, and all the moral virtues that enrich life experiences.
*NOTE [If the conversations sound realistic, it’s probably because I’ve studied, taught, and practiced counseling and psychology for over 45 years. They are just illustrations and do not reflect real persons.]
(or buy another book dealing with Christianity, morality, and sexuality- it is important to be informed before taking action)
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