Enneagram, Yoga and the Birth of Christ
What does God want us to do when cultures collide?
Here’s the scenario: Trevor and his family throw their Christmas tree up, without fail, the day after Thanksgiving every year. They’re dancing around the house to (mostly secular) Christmas carols by December 1st. Trevor’s wife Brittany hangs a big red and green piece of wall art in their kitchen that reads, “Sharing and Caring: the true meaning of Christmas.” His collection of terribly awful Christmas sweaters is something that his children may fight over one day if he isn’t specific about its allocation in his will. Trevor and Brittany are the life of every Christmas party they’re invited to and when December 25th finally rolls around, his three children wake up to find an assortment of toys under their tree that looks like the cover photo of the Christmas edition of Rich Folks Doing Rich Folk Stuff Magazine. They LOVE Christmas.
Yet the name of Jesus is never mentioned in Trevor’s home during these annual celebrations.
So my question to you is, are Trevor and Brittany participating in the true meaning of Christmas, even a little bit? Don’t they get just a FEW God points for celebrating something called Christmas, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the spiritual intent of the thing?
Of course not. God doesn’t offer points. He offered Christ.
So, if it’s true that secular society can strip the spiritual meaning out of the celebration of Christ’s birth, the ACTUAL savior of man, the son of the one true God, the light and the way, I simply don’t buy the premise that traditions from other religions, even former pagan practices, are somehow immune from said secularized cleanse and that to participate in these modern versions equates to participation in their cultish roots.
Let’s start with yoga: stretches and core work that apparently sucks you into eastern mysticism whether you intend it to or not.
Yoga in a Christian Movie? NOOOOOOO!!!!
Look, I admit to being not only ignorant to this whole issue but apparently I’m forgetful and bull-headed as well. Back in 2014, when I started writing the screenplay for a Christian film called Small Group the Movie, I honestly had no idea that yoga, which I thought was just another kind of exercise people gather to do in classes, was such a hot button issue for some Christians. Boy, was I wrong. It actually seems to be one of those faith-based-click-bait things that always start with ridiculous headlines like, “Can you be a Christian and still go to yoga class?”
In the film, a non-believer opens a yoga studio, and at one point, her Christian friends join her for a little stretching. There’s also a Christian character who has invented a stylish line of skirt-like wraps that ladies snap onto yoga pants in order to dress up the look and perhaps make them a bit more modest a fashion choice. But that’s it. That’s the extent of yoga’s involvement in Small Group the Movie.
I’ve been kinda shocked at how many pastors have responded to that one, minor and really insignificant part of the film. An overwhelming majority report that they love the movie, and most even admit that it would certainly energize their group ministry.
But they can’t show it to their churches.
And there’s where I was apparently bull-headed. In expressing this concern to my wife recently, she said, “I told you this could happen back when you were just finishing the script in 2016. You rolled your eyes and told me that was ridiculous. Then you went out and raised over a million bucks and made the movie.” All I had to do was make it a spin class or something and maybe I could have avoided the Christian cancel culture mob who seems to say, “be perfect or go away.” Thank God Jesus didn’t have that attitude.
Never mind that 95% of folks who watch Small Group the Movie absolutely love it, saying that the movie makes them want to join a small group.
Never mind that many non church-goers have seen the film and said that it actually makes them want to get involved in church again.
Never mind that the movie won Best Picture at the International Christian Film Festival or that it earned a perfect score from Dove.org in the category of faith.
Never mind that a respected Christian radio host said in his review of the film, “Small Group is 100 proof, unfiltered Christian reformed theology that manages to hit you in the heart without hitting you over the head.”
No, we can’t show it because there’s a hint of yoga that has nothing to do with the spiritual message of the film. But this all sounds like whining on my part, so let’s move on to an even juicer topic.
“Enneagrams are the debbil, Bobby Boucher!”
I scroll my Facebook feed too often. Y’all probably don’t have that problem, huh? Pray for me. Anyway, this morning I saw an article some pastor friend of mine shared with a headline rebuking any supposed Christian who would dare participate in the pagan practice of the enneagram.
For the record, it would be an absolutely terrible idea for any Christian to actually involve him or herself in pagan worship (or actually practice eastern mysticism for that matter). But I am 100% sure that’s NOT what 99.99% of Christians are doing when they engage in it. They don’t use it as a demonic instrument of self-love or moral relativism. If anything, they use it as a handy little tool to identify their sin tendencies so they can get ahead of them and avoid certain behaviors. They also use it as an instrument of grace - the idea being that if I can better understand another person’s perspective and behavior tendencies, I can more easily offer grace and understanding.
WOW! Sounds like pretty scary stuff, huh?
So despite its pagan origins, if Karen and Jennifer from my Sunday school class casually chat about how their friend Nicole is a “one,” and therefore the responsibility of planning and organizing our class volunteer day at the local homeless shelter might align with her spiritual gifts, are they really practicing pagan worship?
Of course they’re not.
If such a scene were in an otherwise theologically sound Christian movie, would pastors have to run away from it, yielding to the judgiest common denominator in their flock?
Well, I don’t think they’d have to, but sadly, I think they would. So if this yoga thing doesn’t cancel my career as a director, you can bet this enneagram seven wouldn’t dare tempt them with such a scene. Or maybe I will. Just to mess with ‘em.
We’ve heard this same argument against Halloween for decades, that it began as a pagan holiday dedicated to devil worship and witchcraft. My 3 year old son plans to go as Chase from Paw Patrol this year. While I join you in my disdain for how secularized Christmas has become in society, if I’m being fair, I gotta offer a high five to secular society for rinsing that pagan crap out of All Hallow’s Eve to turn it into a harmless evening of fun. Or maybe I’m wrong and my son’s Paw Patrol costume is an instrument of the occult.
And speaking of Christmas, we all know Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. Back in the first century, In order to unite pagan and Christian populations, Charlemagne combined a pagan holiday celebrated on 12/25 with the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth. Let’s say it again so that those in the back of the sanctuary can hear - the celebration of the birth of our Savior was intentionally moved to coincide with a pagan holiday! So are you and I now somehow no less guilty than Trevor? We’re starting to get into some pretty ridiculous weeds now, huh?
Bottom line is, whether we’re trick-or-treating with our kids, celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th, doing yoga stretches, watching Small Group the Movie (which I promise you’ll really like), discussing enneagram numbers or wagging our log-eyed fingers at those who are, the only real question should be, are our hearts cleansed by the blood of Christ so that we can love God with all our hearts, minds and souls and love our neighbors as ourselves?
That’s it. That’s what matters. Let’s not get so caught up in legalistic nonsense that we fail to notice where our own hearts are. Instead, what say we get our heads out of those weeds and point our hearts for the Cross?
I liked your movie a lot. Here’s what I think after reading your blog. I believe your dilemma falls somewhere between Mathew chapter 23 and 1 Corinthians 8 (well, more than that really, but the basics are in chp 8). If you don’t mind my saying so, that’s a very uncomfortable place to be. Some people associate Yoga with a pagan worship practice, and they aren’t wrong. Some people have none of that association and see yoga as a good way to stretch, exercise, or “be still”, and they aren’t wrong. Who’s got it right? Both, neither, either? In total humility, I tell you, listen to the counsel of a godly woman (your wife) . She knew the arguments and likely didn’t want them to distract from the greater message of your movie, which they now are. I figure the only way forward for a Christian is always to start with humility and being other centered. Paul did it because Christ did it, so maybe we can too. I hope a lot of people watch this movie. It’s got some great, God honoring points. For those that don’t watch, well, maybe just maybe, they are honoring God too.
On the issue of yoga, please watch “Yoga Uncoiled” by Caryl Mastrisciana, a movie director and Christian. She grew up in India and gives much insight into the subject. This may help you understand why many of us in the church will stay away from any and all films that include yoga as something positive or even passive in them. I wish you the very best.
Just heard about this Movie through BabalonBee, will be getting it to watch with all my church friends. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in making your art. P.S. God will use the yoga scene, despite your disobedience to listen to him through your wife.
I thought the movie was wonderful. I don’t even know what enneagram is. The movie made me laugh and cry and cheer and gasp all in one sitting. To me, it showed the reality of Christians who aren’t perfectly polished for the approval of others. Well done!
Great post! Everyone should see this movie. I’ve seen it 3 times. Honestly, I didn’t even remember the yoga portion, it’s such an insignificant part of the film. Honestly, anyone who watched this movie and only got yoga from it would probably be the same kind of person who watched the first presidential debate and only noticed Biden’s tie was crooked. Seriously, watch the movie!