After a week without one, I was delighted to find two new episodes of Merlin were being broadcast last night. A romp through Arthurian England is a great way to end the weekend. In the second episode, to atone for killing a unicorn, Arthur must make his way through a labyrinth and face a challenge at the center. If he meets the challenge, the curse will be lifted from Camelot.
Now, I've nothing against a good dose of fantasy.
As long, that is, as it stays fantasy.
Unfortunately, sometime during the last ten years or so, someone had the bright idea to bring the labyrinth tradition into the mainline evangelical Christian church. The reasoning was that if the experience could be centered around Christian values - prayer, experience of God and the like - it could be beneficial in bringing believers into worship.
Rather than go into all the arguments myself, I'll simply point you to this article, written several years ago by Carl Teichrib, chief editor of the Forcing Change website. He lists out some of the arguments against trying to "repurpose" labyrinths.
Simply put, we're not to do as the pagans do. Over and over, in both Testaments, we see this repeated. We are called to be separate, distinct. Including pagan ritual in our worship - no matter how much we try to whitewash it and "christianize" it - brings a very real danger of future apostasy. Is it worth the risk? No.
It's true - a number of accepted Christian practices have their roots in paganism (the date we celebrate Christmas springs to mind), but the circumstances today are different than when those decisions were made. The point at that time was to provide an alternative to pagan practice for early Christians, to keep them from incorporating those practices in their new-found faith through ignorance.
And now we are adopting pagan practices deliberately? Sheesh.