I came across two different stories today that intersect for me.
The first was called Christianity, Taoism &Qigong, http://annayork.ning.com/page/taoism-christianity.
I haven’t been able to verifty all of the information elsewhere, but it’s an intriguing story. According to Ms. York, the Christian church was established in China in the seventh century, close to the legendary site where Laozi wrote the Daodejing. Located near Xi’an, these mountains are home to many Taoist and Buddhist sites.
The Christian church in those days was apparently more open to other beliefs—or perhaps it had to appear more Chinese to find adherents. It was called the Religion of Light, and according to Ms. York :
Texts reveal that the Chinese Church differed from the Western Church in being multi-cultural, pacifist, vegetarian, and egalitarian in terms of gender and class. Thus, in some ways, it was a unique expression of Christianity that could have been closer in some ways to what Christ intended than what has developed in the Western Church.
While the Church of the West developed as a monolithic entity, the Church of the East was more a confederation of churches. The fact that they did not force doctrinal agreement allowed more openness in their interpretations of the meaning of the Gospel. ask.com wiki One result was that Christianity was able to adapt certain parts of its message to the unique aspects of many different cultures. For example, it addressed issues that were prevalent in Chinese culture but were absent in the West, such as karma and reincarnation.
Ms. York believes that the part of that cultural adaptation would have been the practice of qigong.
Today I also came across the story of Amy Richter, the Episopal priest who is also a bodybuilder. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/the-ripped-bikini-clad-reverend.html
My point to bringing all this up is this:
- The idea of combining physical practices with religion is not as odd as it seems to some people
- The cross-cultural exchange that took place between the Buddhists and Taoists throughout Chinese history apparently also applied to their relationship with Christianity and that the porous boundaries between doctrines was considered normal.