Archive for February, 2009

ROM Lower-Body Workout – the Crazystrain Edition

Howdy ROM-watchers; today I do a lower-body workout that I think is leaps and bounds better than the last one I recorded. That said, the workouts actually seem to be getting harder the stronger I become & the better I get at them – must be that righteous flywheel. I was pretty winded after this one, as my wife will attest as she heard me wheezing on the floor for like five minutes afterward. But! I had more energy throughout the day – and that’s what the ROM’s been doing for me so far.

The music? Why listen to corporate rock that’ll ban you when you can hear the anarcho-Christ sounds of the Psalters, I ask you? And the t-shirt? It’s a limited edition, all for my fellow ROMulan Chris.


– The complete ROM & whole-health journey can be found here

Lent 2009 Guide from the Mustard Seed House – and flAsh Wednesday Requiem

So this is kind’ve last minute, but Lent is here, that 40-day period between Ash Wednesday (that’s today) and Easter Sunday. My friend Christine Sine has some thoughts:

During Lent this year I would like to invite you to join us at Mustard Seed Associates on a journey with Jesus towards the Cross, a journey that we hope will change our lives forever. We want to challenge you to set aside time to deepen your relationship with God by entering the brokenness of our world. Allow yourself to encounter Christ as you reflect on all the aspects of your life and of our world that distort your ability to live as effective representatives of God and God’s kingdom.

A couple of years ago, after the 10th person told me they were giving up chocolate for Lent I became extremely frustrated and decided to produce a Lenten guide that encouraged people to make some meaningful sacrifices during this season. Each week we focused on a different aspect of the brokenness of the human condition — with activities from easy to challenging that people could participate in.

That Lenten guide is here – I highly recommend it. Christine is also setting up a Lenten synchroblog, where folks are sharing their journeys this season. It kicks off with this post by Tom Grosh.

I also want to give props to my friends in Atlanta who are orchestrating a flash mob Ash Wednesday requiem in a MARTA bus terminal – easily the most creative expression of grace that I’ve heard of in a long time. Read all about it here, and check out the video.

Weird Oscars Dream

https://i0.wp.com/www.babble.com/CS/blogs/famecrawler/2008/01/oscar_statue-award.jpgSo last night we had a fun low-key Oscars party – thanks to Hugh, Renee, and everyone who came out! We were happy that Slumdog Millionaire just about swept the Oscars – it’s a great film about inner-city India, despair & hope if you haven’t seen it. (For a much more erudite take, listen to Jet Loe & Gareth Higgins’ The Film Talk podcast – their show in general is really a must-listen if you haven’t heard yet) I don’t pay any attention to when most films are released (for some reason, I can tell you about a ton of 1999 releases, but that’s about it) and know next-to-nothing about how the Oscars process works, so can somebody tell me if City of God would’ve been eligible this year? Ah yes, that’d be 2002. I’m disappointed it wasn’t in the running – (was it in 2002?) it’s Slumdog-esque, but decidely more depressing (though still hopeful at the end). I’ve probably answered my own question as to why it didn’t place.

Anyway, for some reason, I had the strangest dream last night following the Oscars. My wife Jasmin & I were actually there, as well as our little girl Jubilee. https://i2.wp.com/www.aolcdn.com/ch_kids/kca-2008-jack-black.jpgThere was a minister there too, from my past – though instead of having wiry white hair, he’d died it jet black and hat it nearly shaved. His mustache was dark too – made him look decades younger. After the awards were over, Jasmin & I got separated – I was in the car waiting for Jasmin, then I realized she wasn’t coming so I parked it and looked around. Adjacent to where the awards were was this huge coliseum-like structure, made of clay or grey concrete or something. I went inside looking for Jasmin, and it was some kind of coercive cult disguised as a radical labor movement. Most of the crowd – and there were tens of thousands – were working class people, blue-collar on “up.” From the center of the coliseum the speaker was talking about workers’ rights and organized labor and dignity, but there were blue-uniformed policemen at all the doors, preventing people from leaving. But then it got more bizarre; there were lots of kids in the crowd too, and they were encouraging the kids to make ‘scary’ sounds; I think training them for whatever they might be doing once let out of the structure. While most of the people there were ‘ordinary’ workers, there were Hollywood types in the crowd too (just being the Oscars and all). Jack Black was there, sitting in one of these stone-hewn rows, with lots of kids surrounding him – he seemed to be leading some of the scary-sound-making.

https://i2.wp.com/www.celebrity-exchange.com/celebs/photos56/hugh-grant.jpgI still couldn’t find Jasmin, but I had Jubilee with me; I wanted to find an escape route, and I’d also left some stuff at the Oscars nearby apparently. so I went up to an exit and asked to leave. “Why should we let you leave?” the security officer asked. “Because I left some stuff out there…look, I’ll back: You see this baby? Her mom’s still in here. You don’t think I’d leave & try to raise her by myself, do you?” This seemed thoroughly convincing to the officer, and he let me go. When I got outside, Brittian Bullock was also there – he had apparently witnessed the bizarre goings-on inside and got out too. We were trying to figure out how to leave the whole complex – and grab my things – when Hugh Grant joined us. He seemed to be in the same boat as we were, disheveled and frazzled by the indoctrination/brainwashing going on inside. He urged us to go back in so we could find Jasmin. Once we got back inside, the ringleader – I think his name was Richard (Gere perhaps? Or Simmons?) – was recounting how this group got its start a decade ago as a role-playing game that went awry; what began with a board and dice and some nerds never actually ended, and it grew into this. Then Richard said that the founding member was Hugh Grant. We looked at him, stunned. He gave a guilty shrug – “I’m afraid it’s true, boys.”

And then I woke up.

Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ – Truth In Labeling

https://i2.wp.com/www.jorieken.nl/Marypages/JesusPrayer.jpgSo my friend Frank Viola writes this blog post titled ‘My Problem With Mental Filters,’ and before you know it I’ve written nearly a 1,000-word response before I find out the comments are closed. Alas. Fortunately (thanks to Firefox) my comment was not lost in comment-abyss, so now it’s transmorgifyin’ before thine very eyes into its very own blog-post-a-looza!

You should probably read Frank’s original post first. The upshot: “Mental Filters. They are frustrating. We all have them. Yet we’re unconscious of them.  It makes communication between Christians about spiritual things almost impossible.” Then Frank goes into how little folks understand him when he describes the kinds of ‘organic church’ gatherings that he helps cultivate & experience. So here’s my reply…

Quite true – we all have filters, and they can either help or hinder communication. In fact, I think a wise man once wrote an article called ‘Rethinking Our Theological Conversation Styles.’

That said, did Paul (a comment-er, not the Apostle raised up in some kinda seance or something – what, you think Frank has illicit consultation with dead?? Are you crazy??) really miss the point when he suggests that you, too, have filters? Sure, he pastors what looks like a big church & you’re advocating something quite different which you feel is better…but isn’t that the (your) point? Surely you’re not claiming to have ‘un-filtered’ yourself. Though I suppose you might be claiming, by grace & revelation, to be able to at least temporarily transcend human filtration when lifted into the glorious atmosphere of heaven-come-to-earth that is an organic church gathering.

If so, I’m with Joshua Tucker – please, blog (or podcast) what ‘sharing Christ’ might mean devoid of cliches. Now I know you blogging isn’t going to compare to a live, collective experience of the depths and riches of Christ coming out of many people’s mouths – you’re just the blog-meister here and that’s going to be inherently limited. But it might create, as you say, the hunger to move forward into a real, live experience. Otherwise these allusions without example are just gonna get caught in our filters!

This probably wont’ surprise you, but I take slight issue with something you framed at the beginning of this post. You said that when you tell someone about “the glorious, every member, open participatory, Christ-centered meeting that is under the headship of Jesus by the Holy Spirit,” that people think you’re talking about “…a Quaker meeting…a Plymouth Brethren styled gathering…[or]…old-school charismatic “body ministry” meetings in a home…But none of those kinds of meetings are anything like what I’m speaking about. None can compare…”

Do you think that anything like might be hyperbole? I’ve participated in some of these off-this-planet gatherings you speak of, and I’d say they’re something like the best of Quaker or charismatic body ministry meetings (I’ve been in both of these too) – though I’d probably agree with you that they’re nothing like, say, a megachurch service. 🙂 But let’s give credit where credit is due: Don’t you think that Quakers, or the Brethren, or any number of other such reforming/purifying groups had ideals – and even experiences – like what you’re describing, at the very least in their early days? I don’t think you intend it, but what you’re saying could sound like “Never since the first century has such tangible Christ-centered glory be seen, but now we’re recovering it in our day…” https://i1.wp.com/www.temple.edu/history/UZ/urwin/images/QuakerMeeting_002.jpg

I think the attempt has been made before. And sometimes, successfully.

With that said (sheesh, I didn’t mean to write a feature-length response to your blog! Just goes to show how provocative you are, Frankie), I’m wondering if the “All riches of Christ, all the time” paradigm is sustainable. I don’t wonder this because it seems theoretically unsustainable, but because it’s been un-sustainable in my church’s direct experience. As you know, I was part of a fellowship for many years that had precisely this goal – “all Jesus, all the time.” If you dared bring up theological questions, your aunt Matilda, personal experiences with God, and the like, you were seen as interrupting the very rich flow of the infinite treasures of the Father’s eternal purpose revealed in the Son before time & space.

With a teeny bit of hindsight, I can see two main difficulties with such an approach:

1.) I don’t think we can run with all pistons firing, all the time. Our ‘car’ will flood. Even Paul’s magnificent letters come down to earth and address real people with real problems and a diversity of experiences. Now I totally agree with you, so much of the Church today focuses exclusively on the pieces of the New Testament that focus on behavior and ignore the evocative poetry of a cosmos existing by, through, and within God’s loving embrace via Christ – it’s a real shame. But the minority movements that attempt to correct this by completely inverting the focus do a disservice to the Body. Because…

2.) Not only is it impossible to always be in ‘self-less proclamation mode’ about the glories of Christ, it isn’t actually Christ-like. That is to say, it isn’t particularly loving to encourage members to squelch their spiritual questions or practical needs, nor does it do justice to Christ’s Incarnation, Emmanuel: God. With us. Perhaps Christianity today on a whole is narcissistically focused on the “With us” part of the equation, turning the Gospel into self-help. But attempting to focus on “God” to the exclusion of “With us” does violence to the revelation Jesus brings – that God’s Kingdom has come very, very near, and no detail of our lives is left out.

Please don’t misunderstand me, dear readers-other-than-Frank: Frank has something on his heart that really is substantially different than what many of you have experienced. By all means, you should get a copy of From Eternity to Here in a couple of weeks – it unveils a panoramic portrait of this uber-rich big-picture heartbeat of God that animates Frank’s life & vocation. I’ve spent the last decade of my life pursuing a collective pursuit of God with friends of God meeting in living rooms across the country, because we’ve been captured by just this vision. And it’s real – it’s not a sham. But! Precisely because of my similar passion, I want truth-in-labeling. I’m wary of this vision being over-sold and under-delivered. The next expression of church I end up in will probably be a good deal more…modest, and will emphasize her continuities with the rest of the beautiful, messed-up Christian family more than her discontinuities.

Okay, I’ve said enough here. Overcoming filters, experiencing more of our birthright in Christ – great conversation-starter, Frank!

2009: A Fat Odyssey (and, a Living Alternative)

https://i2.wp.com/www.coverbrowser.com/image/superman/221-1.jpgWhile weight-loss isn’t the only goal of my whole-health fitness journey to 30, fat-loss certainly is. Remember when Alf Temme told me “You are most likely 70 to 75 pounds overweight on FAT and about 20 to 25 pounds UNDERWEIGHT on MUSCLE”? Well, it turns out he was pretty accurate. I got the results of my pre-ROM body-fat analysis from my chiropractor, Dr. Joe. The State of my Fat Union is:

“33.2% body fat from a formula developed by the US Navy. Breakdown is as follows: 86.6 pounds of fat and 174.4 pounds of lean mass to include muscle, water and bone.”

33% – I’m 1/3 fat – literally! Ugh. Isn’t that, like, a couple of spare tires? So by most metrics, I’m “supposed” to weigh around 178 pounds. I put that in skeptics’ quotes because I weighed around that in high school and my then-sweetheart, now-wife tells me I was too skinny back then – she uses adjectives like ‘gaunt’ and ‘scary.’ So I’ve thought that if I weigh a nice musclebound 200, I should be just fine…I’m presently hovering around the 255 mark.

What’s been important to me in this journey is not to take the easy road of fat-fretting. Our culture plumps us up by selling us more and more artificially-engineered empty calories (anyone who hasn’t read the works of Michael Pollan in this regard absolutely must), then it offers us, should we so choose, a ‘dessert’ of self-loathing and fad diets, often propped up by industrialized food’s first cousin, the pharmecutical industry. Well thanks, Global-Industrial Food & Drug Complex, but I’ll pass. In fact passing on this cocktail, and passing well, is what this journey is all about.

  • Instead of hating my body into submission, I’m working to love it into an expression both of my inner life and of God’s life.
  • Instead of bemoaning the fact that I’m a desk-jockey, I’m ROM-ing it & trying to take walks with my family when I can.
  • Instead of drugs & fad diets, our whole family is re-designing the way we eat – eating more fresh & local foods.
  • Instead of burning the candle at both ends, I’m making a sincere go at crafting a daily rhythm of prayer, movement, and spending time with people who matter.

And my crazy hope is, at the end of it all, that 33% number will vamoose! Thanks for being around for the journey.

Related: zoecarnate.com’s incredible, edible sites.

ROM Bench-Marking, Take One

https://i0.wp.com/www.paragonbpm.com/Assets/Picture/Financial-Management-Bench-Mark-Study-15623.jpgSo one of my goals with my ROM this year is to lose 60 pounds – fair enough. But as my ROM coaches suggested to me, weight loss isn’t everything: What about stamina, stregnth, endurance? These are all important barometers of overall vitality.

Because I’ve historically been about as athletic as a brick, I wasn’t sure how to even go about some basic bench-marking. I eventually settled on these home-fitness tests:

  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

How’d I do?

  • In step-test I was the worst – 120 beats per minute in the minute after steppin’ up. Though Jasmin mentioned that perhaps I was stepping a bit too intensely; I should have gone for ‘steady’ rather than unevenly ‘rapid.’ (Poor)
  • 21 push-ups ’till maxing out (‘Average’ for men)
  • 31 sit-ups in a minute (Average)
  • 41 squats ’till maxing out (‘Good’…I’ll take it!)

So now we have some other benchmarks to gauge my progess…we’ll see where I am in a month!

Photo of the Week

IMG00039

Thanks, Brant, for making my night.

Oh, and please – You supply the caption!


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  • Friend of Emergent Village

    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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