Benedictine College has found a budding cell of Hindu mysticism in its small Catholic college in Atchison, Kansas. The school has gotten rid of the “yoga” classes to avoid the taint of a Hindu association. A new course will be renamed as “lifestyle fitness” and involving “stretching” to sanitize the classes of exotic religious influence.
College spokesman Stephen Johnson insisted that it is mainly a name change — though it leads then to the question of why the change is so needed if it is just avoiding the noun “yoga.” However, there appears a plan to also end the use of positional names like “upward dog” that seem a bit to . . . well . . . Hinduy.
A petition drive is pushing Benedictine President Stephen D. Minnis to reverse the embarrassing decision. However, the school says that it was responding to objections from alumni, students, faculty and some administrators who felt that they were giving up their Christian identity in stretching out. They apparently want greater flexibility but not that flexible.
The problem is that the objections appear to reflect the views of Minnis, who has cited the Archbishop Naumann. He is quoted as saying “Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church . . . We asked ourselves if there was a way to bring those yoga benefits to our students and faculty without the possible effects of eastern mysticism.”
I do not do yoga but I fail to see the real “possible effects of eastern mysticism” or how they are avoided by renaming “upward dog” as “twisted stretch” or whatever they choose. Millions of people do “yoga” and do not immediately seek out a local ashram.
The college in my view need a tad more . . . flexibility.