Archive for May, 2009

ROM Speedster

‘Nuff said.

Medieval Torture or Spinal Rejuvenation?

TortureIn addition to ROMming for my exercise, I’ve been on the lookout for potentially related natural services or vistas being offered that aid others on their whole-health journeys. One I kept on hearing about was the Spinal Rejuvenation Table, something that would relieve disc pressure and aid the healing and relaxation of old discs. Having received chiropractic care since childhood (with no serious injuries sustained), my low-back is in great shape – but I was curious as to what the experience might be for others. I asked Dr. Joe Harris at North Raleigh Chiropractic if I could film a Spinal Rejuvenation procedure & speak to a patient about their experience. He agreed, and we found a patient brave enough to be a YouTube star. This is the result:

I became pretty interested in the procedure myself, and underwent my own session. (I filmed it, but the tripod positioned my camera in the wrong place so it cut off most of the procedure. Alas, this film shall never see the light of day) My experience is much like that of the patient’s I interviewed: It feels uncomfortable at first, but then strangely right. Afterward, I felt a definite difference in my spine – a certain ‘lightness.’ I won’t be continuing Spinal Rejuvenation therapy in Raleigh as we’re moving this summer, but when I get to Atlanta, who knows?

ROMming Elsewhere: ROM as Chiropractic Rehabilitation

Now here’s a match made in heaven! A Range-of-Motion Quickgym in a chiropractor’s office. This video shows how chiropractors can make their practices more helpful (and profitible) by incorporating whole-health fitness.

See some of my chiropractic ROM-related videos here.

Gratefulness

For the stirring waters of Stillness

Three chords comprising one Song

Self melting away in Forgetfulness

The abundance and nothingness of Godhead

Nondual awareness of unitive Vision

Eyes gently closed, glossolalia Flows

For the generosity and power of Release

And the conducive, cohering energies of letting Go.

Tree of Life

ROM by the Numbers: Benchmarking, May 2009

http://www.paragonbpm.com/Assets/Picture/Financial-Management-Bench-Mark-Study-15623.jpgI’ve been losing weight and building muscle this year on the ROM; this we know.  But what about stamina, strength, and endurance? These are all important barometers of overall vitality. Earlier this year I did some benchmarking to measure these areas:

  1. Step test to measure aerobic endurance
  2. Push ups to test upper body strength
  3. Sit ups to test abdominal or trunk strength
  4. Squats to measure lower body strength

Here’s how I did in February:

  • Step test – 120 beats per minute in the minute (Ugh – Poor)
  • 21 push-ups ’till maxing out (’Average’ for men)
  • 31 sit-ups in a minute (Average)
  • 41 squats ’till maxing out (’Good’)

So I did these tests again – here’s how I’m doing now:

  • Step test – 106 beats per minute in the minute (‘Below average’ – but better than ‘Poor’!)
  • 33 push-ups ’till maxing out (Still ‘Average,’ but higher)
  • 39 sit-ups in a minute (Above average!)
  • 48 squats ’till maxing out (’Good’)

So there we have it: in four minutes a day across a few months, I already have improvement across the board in heartrate and stamina. Who knows, perhaps by the end of this year I’ll be able to submit one of these?

The Future of This Blog: Where ‘Confessions’ Are Going

VulnerabilityHappy Monday! Thus begins my more intensive season of blogging on the fourfold themes of True Confessions, Whole-Health Journey, Book Revue & Freebies, and The Future. Today I want to preview a little bit of where Confessions will be going.

Childhood.

Yep, I plan to begin at the beginning, from my days as a precocious homeschooled geek; my formative years of Baptist and Pentecostal spiritual upbringing and my wonderful-yet-madcap family life. And the beginning of my love affair with comic books.

Teen Years

My transition from being homeschooled to public high school, and my transition from the Assemblies of God to PCA Presbyterianism was a time of identity-searching, metamorphosis, insecurity, childhood bad habits blossoming, my love of polemics, church power plays, and the beginnings of my self-identified sense of being a compiler, peace-maker, and spiritual synthesizer. Oh yes – and the first time my being ‘in love’ isn’t unrequited.

College Years

My immersion into small-town private liberal arts college with all its peculiarities; the discovery, in the same year, of both ‘house church’ and the Internet’s vast potential; the first rays of individuation; college romance (or the lack thereof); and the full genesis of my pathologies.

Early Adulthood

Bookstore retail! Epistemological doubt! Panic attacks! Marriage and madness! And the continuing development of my own, personal Jesus.

Approaching 30

Married with child, quixotic businessman, beautiful and failed attempts at community life, and my continuing descent into insanity. (Sense a theme here..?)

So in general, I plan to sketch my life – at times overviewing, at other times detailing (with Actual Written Artifacts from these different eras), my days – looking at some broad themes of humor, spiritual exuberance, and love; as well as the shadow-side of specific (and at first relatively minor) phobias mutating into full-blown anxiety issues, along with how I’ve dealt with them (or not). Laying myself out there like this – and how my spirituality, theology, and community praxis have transmorgified throughout this process – who no doubt open me up to a lot of criticism from drive-by third-party observers, heresy-hunters, and armchair psychologists. I am prepared for this. On the other hand, I am even more prepared for (and wide open to) the experiences and ideas of the vast majority of my readers, who have proven to be nothing less than kind, generous and surprisingly insightful over the years.

The journey will begin tomorrow, with a very contemporary conversation among three very different friends.

Denominations & Ordination: A Crock of Baloney?

Priest Collars 1Tony Jones has been shocking the ministerial and denominational blogosphere this week by suggesting that our contemporary denominational ordination systems are sinful and obstruct the flow of the Spirit’s activity in our time.

His entire series on this is worth reading:

Let’s Ordain Adam

Reconsider Ordination. Now.

Reconsider Ordination. Now. (Continued)

My (Anti-) Ordination Sermon

Ordination: Housekeeping

Is There Ordination in the Didache?

I have some thoughts on this as you might imagine. Here’s a lightly-edited version of what I commented on Tony’s blog during the series…

Thanks for having the guts to have this conversation, Tony. As I think you know, for the past decade I’ve been part of a stream of house churches where we emphatically believe (and on our better days practice) ‘the priesthood of every believer.’ This means that we all have the dignity, worth, responsibility and empowerment to be ministers of reconciliation, demonstrating God’s shalom here on terra firma. It also means, practically speaking, that we’re all expected to share in our gatherings, at least occasionally and hopefully more. Not like a bacchanalian Pentecostal service gone awry (though that can be fun too), but like preparing something or being open to share – you know, a psalm, hymn, a spiritual song; or perhaps a teaching, prophecy, or exhortation. : )

That said, for the past two or three years, I’ve been increasingly influenced by mainline and Catholic spirituality – liturgy, mystical theology, and commitments to justice in particular. And, like these churches would be quick to tell you, you can’t just cherry-pick the ‘spirituality’ and theology you like from them while discounting the ecclesiology it’s been shaped by and comes wrapped in. So, I haven’t. Though I remain opposed to an ordained caste of Christians that stands over and above the mere ‘laity’ (yep, I’m also an egalitarian when it comes to gender issues and I think the mutual-subordination model of the Trinity articulated by the Cappadocian mothers & fathers, and by the author of The Shack, makes good sense), I respect the coherence & elegance of the liturgy and the priesthood that’s evolved to support it.

Here’s where an ‘emergence’ orientation has personally helped me, Tony: A decade ago, I would have had to keep on embracing house churching and slam mainline & Catholic spirituality; alternately, I could have ‘converted’ to (say) the Episcopal Church and recanted my house church ‘heresy.’ Now, I can transcend & include. I can embrace a both/and perspective on this.

My both/and happens to be what you all practice at Solomon’s Porch. I first encountered the idea from a friend of mine (I’ll protect his identity) who’s a progressive catholic type who’s flirted with the idea of being ordained as a priest in the Celtic Catholic Church, an independent Catholic church in the ‘ol apostolic succession. If he pursued this path, he told me, he’d pursue becoming a bishop. Once a bishop, he’d have the official authority to ordain anyone he wished – thus, he’d ordain any baptized Christian who understood the glory and duty of being a priest on earth.

I like this approach. I think that one way mainline churches can infuse new life into them would be take this subversive and experimental approach – perhaps with a few test dioceses at first, since I’m sure it would be scary. But take the Episcopalians for instance, who wish to be the best of Catholics meet Protestants. Why not take the pomp & circumstance (what Bono called the ‘glam rock of the church’) of formal priesthood and make it available even to the plebs? I know institutions rarely undertake prophetic acts, but it seems like a Jesus thing to do. And way sexier than what we dour-faced house churchers do, poo-poohing the whole ordination ‘thang.’ Priest Collars 2

This need not be overly disruptive to the highest ideals of ordination. It could draw from the best of the 2nd-5th century cathecumen process, where becoming baptized happened after much study, prayer, and service, carrying with it great weight and dignity. Make the ordinations gift-specific if need be, and certainly be clear that ordination doesn’t mean you’ll be making a full-time living or drawing a full-time paycheck from this vocation. For an era, I imagine there will still be full-time priests in this setting, but perhaps their role could evolve to being coordinators of church full of priests. After awhile, inspiration or necessity might give birth to an all-volunteer driven church, volunteers who nonetheless are completely serious about their great & glorious vocation.

[After sharing this, there were some other comments. Here’s my response…]

Thank you for your thoughts & experience sharing, Rev. Joey.

“If everyone is “set apart,” for ministry then no one is set apart.”

Well, isn’t church ‘eclessia,’ that is called-out ones? It seems that everyone is set apart for something.

“I don’t think that Tony’s comments point us to “no ordinations.”

Me neither.

“But I also have a hard time reconciling ordaining everyone to be the leader.”

Hmm. I suppose if everyone tried to be the leader at the same time, in the same space, and in the same way, one might have confusion like there was in Corinth circa century one. But if we see a diversity of ways leadership can function and is manifested, I think it makes sense to refer to a church of leaders (which isn’t the same thing as saying a church of pastors or church of elders – though I would also assume that both of these can and perhaps should be plural in a healthy gathering; ie, more than one).

Wow. Let me just say it feels weird discussing church polity like this in an ‘emerging’ context. It brings me back to house church vs. conservative Calvinist debates I was having on email listservs 11 years ago! In that spirit, I’ll close with a quotation from Holy Writ:

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 2:15-16, echoing Exodus 19:6, “You will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words you must speak to the Israelites.”)

These texts in their context might not mean everything I want ‘em to mean, but they’ve gotta mean something.

[Someone then told Tony that if he’s decrying a corrupt denominational system paying minister, then he needs to stop writing books for a corrupt publishing industry. Naturally, I took great umbrage. :)  Here’s my reply…]

The difference between regularly-paid ministry/denominational apparati and Christian publishing is significant: If Tony’s a compelling writer, people will buy his books and in effect choose to be ministered unto by him on a per-book basis. Any monetary compensation he receives from this is per book sold, unless he & the publisher negotiate an advance royalty – which still isn’t the same as a salary with benefits. A paid denominational minister, on the other hand, can and often does coast for years on mediocre material at best, continuing to draw salary and benefits. Even when local congregations oust the so-so minister, they can go from church to church and build a career out of it. I’m not suggesting that most have this outlook; I am suggesting, though, that publishing is way more merit-based than most bureaucratic ministry. Two mediocre books and you’re finished in publishing – if that. Bureaucratic ministry procedures hurt the ‘clergy’ as well as the ‘laity;’ the whoredom of Christian publishing produces Christian best-sellers, which are their own form of calumny. But that’s another conversation…

And I’ll admit, people had some great pushback to my publishing-as-meritocracy comment. The posts are well-worth reading.

Thanks again, Tony, for these provocations!


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