ST asks: “I have been attending a wonderful bible study at a University, led by a priest. There was piano music with instrumental Hindu ragas played prior to the bible study. I was shocked and prayed silently for protection and didn’t fully realize what was going on at the time. Also, the students will be walking a labyrinth for one week during Lent in the same building as Mass and bible study.
“A priest told me that I could continue to attend these bible studies and Mass at the University, as long as I did not engage in these activities, and if the music is played, to walk out of the room. I learn a great deal from the bible study, however I do not want to do anything that would put my soul in danger. So, I am asking you for your opinion. What do you think?”
I am in complete agreement with the priest who advised you. Attending the bible study is fine, but participating in a labyrinth and Hindu ragas is definitely out-of-line.
For those who may not be aware, the modern version of the labyrinth is a New Age tool often used for wacky purposes such as “finding our soul assignments” and “to continue weaving the Web of Creation.” Even when used as a prayer device, it is often presented as a way to “experience God” or achieve spiritual states that render an encounter with God into something that must be “felt” in order to be authentic. If there’s one thing the mature Christian knows it is to never rely on their feelings when it comes to judging their closeness to God! (See a blog on the labyrinth at http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=34)
As for Hindu ragas, a raga is a melodic scale of five or more musical notes upon which most classical Hindu melodies are made. This sounds innocent enough until you understand that Hindu music is considered a means of moral or spiritual connection rather than just entertainment. Ragas are commonly affiliated with certain ethical and emotional properties and some are also associated with magical powers. For instance, one Hindu writer suggests that a raga associated with darkness, if sung during mid-day, has the power to bring darkness upon the earth.
For the Christian, this belief is the equivalent of belief in magic or sorcery, which is the deliberate use of occult powers.
The bottom line is that none of these activities belong in a Christian bible study and you should consider writing a letter of complaint to the University’s administration about their incorporation of non-Christian and New Age practices into a Christian study.
You have every right, as a Christian, to cry foul, especially if the University neglected to mention in the advertisement for this study that it includes ragas and labyrinths. Commonly held rules of fair disclosure say they should be informing potential students what is in the class, especially if it contains material that is non-Christian and/or controversial (such as the labyrinth).
Even if your letter gets no response or ends up in a wastebasket, you have still made the organization aware that their actions have offended someone. Maybe more people would think twice about disrespecting Christians if we spoke our mind more often!
Our Learn to Discern: Is it Christian or New Age series contains a booklet on the labyrinth which is perfect for evangelizing our neighbors, co-workers and University professors! Click on the “New Age Resources” button on the navigation bar above for more information.
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