Infant of Prague and Sacred Heart of Jesus candles are from my Flickr page.
I have written of religious appropriation before, and how very difficult it is to define. It usually starts some pretty good arguments, so let's get down to business!
I recently discovered someone on Twitter named phyrecracker, who believes Westerners practicing yoga is a racist act. She doesn't simply propose the idea, she endorses it as a fact.
Some of her tweets:
I need 2 say again: if u participate in the fuckery of yoga, our religious practice, Kali Ma will shit on you. Consider yourself warned.
I'd like to c ppl RT that flaming morsel of truth rather than the pretty white smiling familiesI'm sure she'll be happy she got a whole blog post, rather than a simple RT (retweet).
[to the woman practicing yoga] last thing: 4 u and any1 else who does this wack ass white ppl yoga know that u cannot achieve inner peace on a basis of racism
sweep the criticism of the Indian under the rug while you go enjoy the religious practice that white ppl steal from usHm.
I tried this on for size, to see how it fit...especially with Christmas looming over the horizon:
I need 2 say again: if u participate in the fuckery of Christmas, our religious practice, Mother Mary will shit on you. Consider yourself warned.Interesting.
Of course, they will then say nothing is authentically Catholic... they will say we "appropriated" Mary from an amalgam of European goddesses, too. But of course, we can continue that particular game back to the beginning of time, can't we?
Who's on First?
I am disturbed by phyrecracker's comments because I actually adhered to some version of them myself once. As I've written before, I briefly passed through a rather hard-core Catholic phase (for me, anyway), during which I became furious when (for example) non-Catholics would listen to Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor... and when atheists or anti-Catholics listened? It would send me through the roof.
And if they actually PLAYED the music, as in, played instruments in an orchestra? LIVID. It enraged me, exactly as phyrecracker is enraged. I felt the appropriation and I felt the disrespect: IT'S A MASS, do you know what a MASS IS? It's a HOLY PRACTICE, THE REAL PRESENCE OF GOD ALMIGHTY... it is not simple entertainment, you fucks! Etc etc etc and I would inevitably hold forth in a most self-righteous fashion. (Dead Air regulars probably have some inkling of what that sounded like.)
And damn, I remember how good that felt.
I often wish I could corral me some good old-fashioned fundamentalist self-righteousness these days... but I seem to be all about compromise. (I always heard this happened when you got old! Shades of GRAY predominate, God help me!) Now, you could play the Requiem Mass in a strip club and I wouldn't raise an eyebrow. (And if the stripper in question was creative enough to DRESS like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? I'd likely enjoy it myself.)
Seriously, though... at least once every Christmas season I am somewhat peeved when I see non-Christians singing OUR songs and participating in OUR holiday. 
But you know, that's how it is in our global times; I don't assume everyone who eats Halloween candy is a pagan. I don't assume everyone who participates in Thanksgiving dinner, believes the accompanying just-so story about pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down to a common meal together, giving thanks to God/Great Spirit. I don't assume everyone who paints Easter eggs is pagan OR Christian. Some of them just want to paint eggs. The egg-painting has no additional meaning if the person painting them is simply doing this for the kids' Easter egg hunt. Playing Beethoven, Bach, Schubert and other classical music originally written for the Church, does not make you a Christian. Even though this music was created as part of Mass/Eucharistic Adoration/Benediction, most musicians nowadays (and certainly, most musicians in non-Western countries) play these pieces of music while not fully understanding what they are for and what they represent. And they can play them VERY WELL. Likewise, one can practice Yoga asanas without being religious too.
One can strike yoga poses, like musical notes, with no understanding, and still reach the desired goal. To the religious person, it may not seem exactly fair, but it is indeed so.
And does phyrecracker take December 25th off or eat candy canes? If so: How dare she participate in the fuckery of Christmas.
As one of my favorite Bible verses says, there is not one righteous, no, not one.
And what are your thoughts?
1) Kali Ma refers to the Hindu Goddess Kali.
2) A friend reading over this post offers the observation that Kali tends to be an avenging sort, while the Blessed Mother is not. In reply, I offer the fact that Mary has morphed to suit various purposes throughout the ages, including (a close second to Kali) Our Lady of Victory, popularized by scary Simon de Montfort during the Crusades.
3) Certain traditional hymns can set me off, such as Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming or O come, O come, Emmanuel--both of which seem almost blasphemous in a shopping-mall setting. Any time I hear them outside of Church? Makes me ineffably sad.