TAI CHI, REIKI:
A Guide for all Christians
by Br Max Sculley FSC
(Modotti Press, 2012, 180pp, $29.95, ISBN: 978-1-92142-171-6, Available from Freedom Publishing)
Cardinal Godfried Danneels, former Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, recently wrote: "Modern Belgians are often interested in a range of spiritualities but allergic to the sacraments of the Church."
Belgium is a nominally Catholic country, but its people are increasingly secular in practice. Likewise, Australia is a nominally Christian nation, but its leaders continue to embrace the secular agenda.
These observations lead to Brother Max Sculley's recently published and timely book addressed to "all Christians" and giving an informed response to the current vogue - among many - for Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki and "New Age" philosophies and practices.
Brother Max was a teacher in his younger days and a lifelong educationalist, and his writing is clear, well-organised and accessible, whether the readers be students and staff at secondary or tertiary levels or interested individuals. This Guide should be in every Catholic library.
The New Age challenge to Christianity - of which Yoga, Reiki and Tai Chi are part - is not trivial for committed Catholics. These practices are rooted in Asian religions, especially Hinduism and therefore verge on neo-paganism. Yet they are often presented as compatible with Christianity.
Indeed, they have a seductive side since New Age concerns and practices resonate with many of those seeking to fill the religious vacuum in our era of suffocating consumerism.
Moreover, New Age devotees can share a concern for the little, the less, the least and the lost - the marginalised who have fallen through the cracks of the affluent society - with committed Christians.
However, what Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, clairvoyancy, crystal gazing and other New Age beliefs generally ignore completely is the message and person of Jesus Christ.
Christians believe that Jesus is the Second Person of the Eternal Triune God and His life, death and resurrection represent a turning point in history. Jesus commissioned His apostles to "go teach all nations", appointed one of them as leader, and following Pentecost authorised them to gradually frame the Church's organisation and responses to contemporary challenges over the following centuries.
Much more could be written on this theme. Brother Max Sculley's book constitutes a valuable resource for Christians who need to understand the parameters of the New Age challenge and to resist its seductive side. This book is highly recommended.