One day last week I walked down Yonge Street. A tank top on a sale rack outside Sporting Life caught my eye. "Spiritual Gangster" was printed across the front of the shirt. I wondered what brand of clothing would choose those words. The label told me the brand was Spiritual Gangster.
I did a little research. Spiritual Gangster offers "Yoga Inspired Clothing for High Vibration Living" and "represents a new generation of yogis who seek balance between the ancient practice of yoga and our modern world". The only evidence of balance I could find, other than the poise of the models on their website, was in the repeated references to the new generation yogis' donations to charity. At $48 for a t-shirt I expect there are profits to share.
The shirts and tops don't just advertise the brand. "Happiness is the way", "Here comes the sun", "Peace, Love, Yoga" and other positive messages are available. One sample caught my eye. It identifies the person inside the shirt as a "Soul Searcher".
I'm not sure what "high vibration living" is. It may refer to the Eastern concept of chakras, five energy centres in the body. The ideal state is alignment of the chakras so they vibrate together. Yoga offers a physical discipline old generation yogis claim is conducive to this alignment. Christians who practice yoga witness to the alignment of body and soul, or self and Spirit they find in its disciplines. Old generation yogis aren't concerned about the clothes they or their students wear.
I have message t-shirts in my collection. Each says something about me when I wear it. One says I've been to Craigellachie B.C. Another says I like Propeller Ale. A couple identify sports teams I follow. (Go Jays! Go Arsenal!) One of my favourites has a little North Face logo on it. It fits really well and says I can afford a North Face shirt. (Actually, I got it a Value Village.) I've also owned t-shirts that said I went to one church or another. I usually just wore them to church.
Time was words like "soul" and "spiritual" wouldn't show up on clothing. They might not be spoken in public, certainly not in the presence of strangers. Now such words are used with freedom. They mean as much or as little as the person speaking or wearing them chooses.
In this atmosphere of freedom maybe Christians can be Spiritual Gangsters, too. I cringe when I see the billboards that still dot country roadsides. They say "Prepare to meet thy God!" and "Ye must be born again!" and even "It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment!". That kind of Christianity repels me. But I have to admit there's something gangster about it. It's daring. It pushes us, though probably not in the direction the people who paint the signs believe it will. There's no question who the the people who put those signs up on their land are, or what they believe.
There's nothing frightening about a self-identified spiritual gangster of yoga. Can Christians be gangster without trying to frighten the hell out of people? Let's imagine creating a line of Glenview shirts. What positive witness could we add to the cotton conversation on the sidewalk?
Another thing about people who wear expensive yoga clothing on the street. They usually look like they practice what their wardrobe preaches. What evidence of Spirit-filled High Vibration Living can people see in us?