The Defenestrated Yoga Instructor Of Southampton
The non-news item that Father John Chandler has banned sessions of what was apparently advertised as 'spiritual yoga' from the hall attached to St. Edmund's, Southampton, is, in my opinion, so blatantly anti-Catholic it's laughable.
Father Chandler sounds like an extremely obliging fellow, to the extent that one might take issue with his assertion, perhaps under what he felt to be media pressure, that,
"We did say that yoga could not take place. It's the fact that it's a different religious practice going on in a Catholic church. It's not compatible. We are not saying that yoga is bad or wrong."
If it belongs to another religion then of course we believe it's wrong. We would not be Catholics if we did not believe it was wrong. The civic guarantee of freedom of conscience allows us to believe it's wrong. That's not an attack upon anyone else's right to believe it if they wish. However, one of the more depressing legacies of the past half-millenium of British history is that most Catholics are just too polite to say so.
Some questions about all this spring to my mind. For example, Cori Withell, the defenestrated yoga instructor, seems to be wearing a hat. Now, ladies of 37 might wear hats for any number of reasons, not the least of which, God forbid, might either be that she has a medical condition which impedes hair growth or that she is either undergoing, or has recently finished, some pretty intensive medical treatment. If either of these scenarios apply to Ms. Withell, then she has my apologies and best wishes.
However, and without wishing to sound ungallant, she doesn't seem to have too much hair popping out from under the hat. It would be interesting to know whether she belongs to the Hare Krishna cult, or any other such cult of that type. If that is the case, then one is entitled to ask just why she booked a venue for her activities which she must either have known or ought to have known would cause controversy, albeit a thoroughly lightweight, almost frothy, controversy of the kind that wouldn't even make the papers if Parliament were in session, never mind the Liberal Democrat party conference; after all, any attention-seeker left with so much as an ounce of self-respect must gag at the thought of having to play second fiddle to Danny Alexander. If that was her intention, she has created not a controversy but a nuisance, and relegated herself into the box marked 'Public Pests', along with, sigh, one Stephen Gough, still crazy after all these years (all of them - look at the date on that link), and still depressingly letting it all hang out in central Scotland, although this time rather too close to a children's playground for comfort.
One seriously does hope that Ms. Withell has not been trying to manufacture some sort of attack on the Catholic Church, or attempting to undermine the faith of individual Catholics. If that was her game, then she's been found out. Catholics know better than anyone else that priests are only human, meaning that some of them can be deceitful and that some are liars - functions not of their priesthood but their humanity - but in this day and age, if Father Chandler says her classes were advertised as 'spiritual yoga' I am naturally inclined to believe him, and also that he would therefore have been well within his rights to show her the door in the way he has. On another level, of course, if manufacturing a nuisance has been her game it would be a really rather horrible example of the most grossly unpleasant passive-aggressive behaviour; just the sort of thing one would not expect from someone committed to unity and understanding, but just the thing one would expect from someone intent on nothing more than trying to make a Catholic priest look like a bigot or a fool.