As the weeks had passed, most of the folks who had been attending the “Old Time Religion Church” returned to Garsonville Community, and settled in like eggs in a carton.
Matter of fact, Sammy only had fifteen faithful remaining.
But those fifteen suddenly became enraged when they discovered that yoga was being taught at the high school in the gym classes as a means of stretching and relaxation.
Sammy was convinced that yoga was “of the devil.” He had read somewhere that it was a gateway philosophy to Eastern religions.
So he and his fourteen constituents painted signs and were standing outside the high school, exercising their God-given right to annoyingly protest.
As is often the case, the more they protested against the yoga classes, the more the young people became interested in taking them–which meant the school had to bring in two teachers, which further inflamed Sammy Collins and his old-timers.
Sammy’s complaint was very simple: if you’re going to have yoga classes, you should put prayer back in school.
When the principal asked Sammy how he would suggest prayer be reinstated, Sammy explained that he would be more than happy to come over every morning and do a prayer for the children over the public address system. The situation was further complicated when the principal laughed, thinking he was joking.
Now Sammy was not only in a theological bubble-up, but also insulted, and determined to go to the next school board meeting for a showdown.
Of course, Sammy wanted reinforcements, so he called Meningsbee. Figuring that any man of God would be equally as distraught as he was over the issue, he asked the pastor to join him and spearhead a revolt against what he referred to as “the yogalization of Garsonville High.”
Sammy was rather proud of the slogan.
As was often the case with Meningsbee when dealing with his old buddy, Sammy, he found himself at a loss for words.
Meningsbee did not know exactly what he felt about yoga, except he was pretty positive he did not want to do it. (When living on the East coast, he had once been asked to attend a yoga class, to which he had replied, “Sorry. That’s a stretch for me.” When they didn’t laugh, he realized it was probably not his crowd.)
But overall, he saw no reason to prohibit young people from participating in yoga. He was pretty sure that once it became too religious, they would ignore it just like they did church.
But he also did not want to leave Sammy out in the cold, so he agreed to join him at the school board meeting–not as an ally, mind you, but as a soul arriving with an open mind. Sammy agreed, unsure of the meaning.
The night of the school board meeting arrived. It was well attended–mostly by parents who were deeply afraid that their children were going to be deprived of an exercise program because some stuffed shirt with a Bible was intolerant.
Yes, the younger couples of Garsonville, who had long ago decided to find their spirituality via the Internet, showed up to argue with Sammy Collins and his remnant.
Meningsbee sat in the back of the room trying to hide the best he could. Speaker after speaker came forward to testify of the wonders of yoga and the physical health benefits.
Then it was Sammy’s turn. He gave a ten-minute sermon about the dangers of false religion, mysticism and also the lack of God in the public school. Although his points were punctuated by some “amens” by his followers, there was a general sense of disbelief and superiority among the others listening. Realizing that yoga was going to be instituted and Sammy was going to lose, Meningsbee stood to make his way out the back door. But before he could make a clean getaway, one of the school board members noticed him and asked him to come forward and give his thoughts on the matter.
Meningsbee tried to decline, saying, “I think it’s been thoroughly discussed on both sides.”
But there seemed to be a general consensus that he should say something more. He came forward and stood behind the lectern, where people had been postulating all evening long. He took a deep breath and began.
“I don’t want the school teaching religion. I don’t think you know what you’re doing. I think you’re working real hard just to get the math scores up. I think Jonah and the whale would probably swallow you up. I don’t want anything to bother or torment our children. I don’t want anything pushed on them. And that goes for Bible reading or yoga.
“So when some of you talk about meditation and others refer to prayer, I’ve always found that such devotion is better done in one’s own closet instead of the public thoroughfare.
“I would neither pray nor would I chant in public. What I would suggest is that with all of our desire to expand the horizons of our children, that we remember the greatest lesson we can teach them. They have more in common with the other people on Earth than they think, and their goal is to get along with them.
“So if you want my vote, I’m for anything that’ll make us more pleasant.”
The room was silent. Meningsbee dared to take a glance over at Sammy. Collins was squinting as if he didn’t fully comprehend the message.
But the younger couples nodded their heads and seemed to realize there’s a lot more that goes into making a young person become an adult than yoga and prayer.
They need to learn how to get along.