I have character flaws, it’s part of my humanity, part of the whole that shapes who I am.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this, while at home my wife is hosting a party for a baby baptism of a friend. It’s been a busy day, I was up early to kick off a project for the office, I worked out, then I was in the office doing testing and managing the project. The work that my team did today was successful, it’s a big relief, but when I called home to see what was going on, I found that a group of people who I have no emotional connection to are at my home celebrating.
The party was my wife’s idea, and I’ve supported her efforts, but now that the day has arrived, I find old habits rearing their ugly head. I have no desire to entertain people I don’t know, and one that my wife and I share a friendship with. I also don’t want to spoil their celebration, it’s a worthy thing to be celebrating. But I’m 50 years old, and I’ve been down this road many many times before, and the minute I show up, I will be forced into what they are doing. And because my wife’s friend knows us both will be hurt if I don’t make a showing of being happy she’s there.
Truth be told, there is so much drama in my life, that I really don’t want to get involved in yet another families drama. I wish them well, I just don’t have the emotional strength to be part of a mess, that in my view they created for themselves.
Hard, unfair maybe, but very true.
I sometimes wish I was different, that I could be like others and be more open, but I am at my very core a private man, who has certain places that I consider to be sacred. My rocking chair next to the window and the TV is one of those, like the altar we keep on the upstairs landing, it’s my go to spot when I need to decompress. And the only people I share it with are those who I have let into inner reaches of my heart.
In the parish that we attend the Priests wife has battled cancer and is now cancer free, but when we joined the parish, I had to ask myself if I really had the emotional depth to deal with that situation if God forbid it took a dark turn. It tool me a long time to come to grips with the whole picture, and today she is like a long lost sister. But I feel ashamed that I was so cold and calculating in deciding if I was ready to deal with the situation before we joined the parish.
I’m never sure if I should apologize for who I am, or just be content being me. It’s a question I’ve never been able to answer, I’m socially awkward at times, and sometimes I shame myself. But it’s part of my makeup, and I’m not sure I can ever change it, or if it even makes sense to change it.
One of the most beautiful things I found in Orthodoxy was that we each are on our own journey, and there is no judgement if I’m not ready to accept some parts of the faith. Last night talking to Fr. Mark we talked about the final leg of the fast, I joked that the Orthodox take fasting and lent and at the very end crank the knobs to 12. He said some of the faithful will even not eat for the final two days, to which I quizzed him on how many parish members became crashers during the final service. I meant it partly in humor and partly because I get fasting, but at this point of my walk, I don’t ‘get’ making myself suffer that much to celebrate lent (well is it a celebration then).
So there’s part of it, the flaws in the man. The parts of me that I don’t share very often.
God Forgive Me, A Sinner.
It’s been an interesting year, we have finally moved and are settling into a new place. Our old house is getting foreclosed on, and there is simply nothing we can do about it, despite that we never missed a payment and held up our end of the bargain, we are now stuck with a foreclosure.
After a long year of questioning we decided to journey into the Orthodox Church, that decision has brought both pain and joy.
I had an accident on January 28th, and it took me out for three weeks, and I’m still not fully recovered. I’m not sure if I ever will be the same again.
My oldest son moved out on his own, and immediately lost his job, so he is constantly on our minds.
My Daughter made some bad decisions and did a good deal of damage to my car, it was in the repair shop for two full weeks while they fixed it.
We have been struggling to just keep up with life, so much is happening that most days we collapse from exhaustion.
Then today I walked out of a Vespers service because I finally hit a portion of Orthodox Asceticism that I could not reconcile. I’m sure I’ll go back, but I had to stop and take a deep breath so I can think, everything has begun to squeeze the air out of my life.
You see in the Orthodox faith they use a different calendar, and they take lent VERY seriously. Catholics give up something for lent, but the Orthodox turn that up to 11, first you give up meat, then you give up anything dairy, meaning you go vegan. It’s not a requirement, you can do less and be fine. But the bar is set. Then today they celebrated a forgiveness service, it’s a vespers service where you prostrate on your knees (think muslim prayers), and ask for forgiveness from EVERYONE in attendance. Not as a group but person by person, the idea is to be humble, and in turn each person does the same for you.
But the whole thing seemed to me to be overly pious, how can I ask forgiveness if I don’t even know everyone very well. I’m not a monastic, I’m a man with faults and failures, and there are SOME people who I need to ask forgiveness of, but I’m not about to do it in a public service. There was a push to ask forgiveness of EVERYONE I know, that sounds like a good sentiment, but in reality it would cause more issue than it would help with some people I know.
So it’s not enough to have a late Lent, to use almost a whole Sunday for church every week, long services where you stand (you can sit, but standing is more Ascetic), to go far beyond anything the Catholic faith required (and many times I think they didn’t require enough). But then I’m supposed to humiliate myself, prostate before strangers and ask for forgiveness when I’m not even sure of the persons name.
Called to the priesthood I am not…
So today after the Agape meal, I began to feel confined and trapped, getting up and down on my knees 50 to 60 times seems pointless. It’s a show that I’m pious enough to be Orthodox, it has nothing to do with my heart, how I feel, or how I see things.
So instead of prostrating 60 times, throwing my back out, and tearing up what little is left of my knees. I walked out…
I need time to think things over, I need some air.
I don’t want to be Orthodox and go through the motions, just because that’s what we do. If I’m going to do anything it’s because not only do I understand what we are doing, but because I believe in my heart it’s the right thing to do. I cannot believe in something I don’t understand, so right now I need time to think, to breathe a little and come to terms with what it means to be Orthodox.
Which is strange because right now I’m stuck between two worlds, I can’t go to reconciliation because I’m not Orthodox yet. I would go back to being Catholic, but I don’t believe in Papal Infallibility, Universal Jurisdiction of the Papacy, the Marian Dogmas, or Indulgences.
So I’m a man without a home, back into the wilderness once more for a time…
What I need more than anything right now is prayer, and time to reflect…
Choosing a saints names for your confirmation is a tradition held in both the Eastern and Western ancient churches. When Michelle and I were in the RCIA program and converting to the Catholic faith, I struggled with purpose of the tradition of choosing a saints name. My reasoning was that my mother had already named me after the guy who wrote most of the new testament, and I never saw the point in tinkering with that. I resisted, and at first I was told you have to choose a saint, but when I pushed back I was finally told that it’s only a tradition, and it’s not necessary for confirmation. So using my protestant stubbornness, I did not fill out any name and kept the one I was given, never even choosing a saint to help me on my journey.
In the ancient church it was common practice that once you where baptized you where given a new name, so for instance Saul become Paul, names in the ancient world where more than just a monicker, they where expressive of who you were as a person. And it was common in the Jewish tradition to name children after patriarchs and other holy figures. The idea was that baptism was creating a new person, and that should be reflected in everything you do, including your name.
But when you come from a protestant background, you learn to be suspicious of tradition, the line of thinking goes like this:
“Is this just a tradition of men, or is it something that I can find in the bible?”
That thinking is based on ‘Sola Scriptura’ which almost all of the protestant world holds today, it can be even held with those who practice ‘Prima Scriptura’ (or those who hold tradition and scripture as equal). So even with the clear biblical reference to this tradition, I was never comfortable enough in the Catholic Faith to allow myself a little grace to some of the rules. Looking back it was partly the lightweight nature of the RCIA class, and the speed at which we converted. Nine months sounds like a long time, but in reality it’s a short time to absorb so much information. And the fact that our RCIA classes where more about how we felt, learning the true foundations of the Church, didn’t help the situation.
But now things have changed, I’ve had a lot more time to dig, study and ponder. I left the Catholic Church and am moving East to a church older than the one in Rome, Antioch. And this move has taken a lot longer to even commit to being a Catechumen, in fact Michelle figured out that it’s been a year since we started talking to the Antiochian Orthodox Church. That time has been very helpful to building my faith and confidence in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, I’ve been able to absorb more information, and have spent that time talking to people who have gone before us, learning their experiences as well.
When Fr. Mark asked me about a Saints name, my off the cuff answer was St Paul, since we both shared the same name. In fact Fr. Mark did the same thing, saying it was an easy choice. But I’ve began to rethink my position, and while St Paul is a wonderful Saint, and someone I would be proud to have for my confirmation name. It almost feels like I’m cheating the process, Michelle is taking St Michael the Arch Angel for her patron saint (figures since he was a warrior and she is the toughest person I know). Her decision has caused a good bit of fun ribbing on my part, but I was surprised to know that people choose Saint from the opposite gender all the time, who knew?!!!
I started thinking about all the different Saints out there, I dug, researched, poked, prodded. And nothing… I couldn’t find any that seems to be worthwhile or should I say fitting, I wanted someone who crossed over between East and West. I know I wanted someone early, and someone influential, and that’s when it hit me like a thunderbolt!!
He was the 2nd or 3rd Pope in the Church (depending on who you read, there is a theory that Linus and Clement both where the bishop of rome for a time, until Linus was martyred, leaving Clement), regardless he is a Saint in both the Catholic and Orthodox faiths, and was a Pope regardless of what Anti Papacy writers think. His writings where long held as part of the canon of the new testament, not making by the fact that he was not a direct apostle. I’ve read his works, there’s not much of them, but boy are they powerful. And he was a man who helped guide the church right at the very beginning, there is even speculation that Paul refers to him in the new testament.
More importantly to my way of thinking, he crosses the bridge between East and West, which for me is important. Because while I am becoming Orthodox, I don’t want to abandon all that the Catholic Church has given to me. There are some great Saint that are exclusively Eastern and Western and I didn’t want to go down that path, I’m not trying to make a statement with my conversion, I was looking, and found the church of the book of Acts.
So hopefully, if the Bishop approves, this easter (which is May 5th year for the Antiochian church), I’ll be confirmed as Clement. There is a chance that the Bishop may want me to spend more time as a catechumen, but he’s the Bishop and I’m not, and I’ll accept what ever he says. This is certainly a transformation for someone who just two years ago was digging in ready to make the RCIA class PROVE that a saints name was needed
Thank God for his mercy, to let a stubborm sinner like me, see the truth of his word, and the church’s traditions.
-Clement (who was formally Paul)-
I guess I need to work on a signature line.
I read the news today about the Pope stepping down at the end of the month, it was a little surprising but for me it shows the character of the Joseph Ratzinger. Even before becoming Catholic I admired Pope Benedict, I think he did a great job during a very difficult time for the Church, and I have been encouraged as he began to stamp out the odd liberalism that has plagued the Catholic Church since Vatican II. In the next month we are going to be inundated with opinions about what the Catholic Church should address next, I’m sure there will be no end to the homosexual and women as clergy nonsense. I also expect contraception to be high on the list, while I don’t agree %100 with the church on this issue when it comes to marriage, I do support the church on the rest of the issues surrounding contraception, and I’m %100 with them on Abortion.
But here’s the thing, I think what Pope Benedict is doing shows just how good of a Pope he is, we live in very fast times, the information age has changed the way we do theology, live our lives, and learn about who we are. It has allowed an uprising of opposition voices to overwhelm the Church’s message at times, and the Vatican has been a little slow in coming around. It’s part of the history of the Church, when your two thousand years old, let’s see how fast you can react. But I think in this time of rising apostasy the church needs someone at the helm who can take charge and deal with the worlds changes head on. Ratzinger knows this, and it’s been obvious for a while that he has not been well physically, so the move to retire is the best move he could make. It shows his love of the Church, and his desire for her to confront the onslaught she faces in today’s world. I know Catholics are sad he’s leaving, but you could not have asked for a better man to fill that position, and it’s clear that rather than hold onto the position, he desires more than anything, that the Church go forward. The man is a Saint in my book, and I have nothing but respect for what he’s doing.
Now to my noggin:
Two weeks ago I was walking into work, carrying a box of cookies in one hand, and my iPad Mini in the other. It was a very cold January morning, it had been snowing and was warm the day before, as I approached our office I noticed a co-working walking about 30 feet in front of me. What happened next I can’t tell you, because the next thing I knew, my co-worker was sitting over me patting me on the fact trying to wake me up. It gets a little fuzzy after that, I remember my fingers tingling like crazy and two co-workers helping me walk into the building. I sat at my desk and started to feel bad, it was about that time that my boss called an ambulance. Next thing I know I’m surrounded by men who are talking to me, checking my vitals and finally strapping me to a board and carting me out the front door. This was not how I wanted to leave work that day!
I always wondered what it would be like to ride in the Ambulance, and now I know, and friends, it’s not good. First they roll you in, your strapped down 20 ways from sunday, and your stretcher locks into the frame of the vehicle, which means any bump it hits, you feel. As we got rolling the paramedic pulls out and I.V. kit, I asked him if he was seriously going to do that while we where moving?, and he said “It’s not a problem, I do this all the time”. Well maybe not a problem for him, but for me it hurt like hell, so not only was I dizzy, he poked with an 18 gauge needle!
Once we arrived at the emergency room, my shirt was removed and I was sent to get a CT scan to see if I had scrambled my noggin. The E.R. however was packed with other people who had suffered my same fate, so I sat, or rather laid, with a neck brace in a room waiting to be seen. Uncomfortable does not cover it, Michelle showed up and I not afraid to admit that I shed some tears, it was all so overwhelming for me. Finally after about 30 minutes they pull me in to scan my noggin. Now I’m a big guy, and it took four nurses to move me onto the CT machine, they do it just like you see on T.V. shows, hup, heave, and over. I laid there unable to move while the machine spun away, then I was hup, heaved, and back over to my stretcher, and back into my room.
It was then they gave me some pain killers and nausea meds through the I.V. and for a time, Life was good. Then the Doc showed up, no visible damage, but most likely a concussion, and a good one at that. He wanted to me to try and sit up, little did I know that my brain had other insidious plans… The moment I moved from laying on the stretcher to sitting upright, the room transformed into Mr. Toads Wild Adventure, and spun like crazy. I almost lost my breakfast, so the nurse, being the angel that she was, gave me more drugs. And that did the trick I was able to slowly sit up, and eventually walk. After about three hours, they let me leave, but I had to see a specialist later in the week. It turns out that I have a level 4 concussion, and walking for the first week was an adventure, just going to the bathroom was like a funhouse of evil. And laying down to go to sleep, well, have you ever watched a cat watching a ping pong ball bounce up and down. That was pretty much what my eyes did, it was loads of fun.
I finally got in to see the Doc, and he basically told me to go home, rest, no computer, no laptop, no tablet, short amounts of reading and T.V. And that it would take a couple of weeks to heal, my balance would be wonky, and I was not to drive. So I have spent the last two weeks driving the recliner, watching terrible old T.V. shows, lots of documentaries, read theology and Lee Child books. I’ve been bored out of my mind. Finally today I saw the doc, did my third test, and was finally cleared for work starting next week, which is the best news I could get. It’s been quite an adventure, I’m considering a hockey helmet at all times, and we actually bought strap on spikes for my shoes.
This episode while painful and frustrating, has taught me a valuable lesson. We have people who love and support us no matter what, it’s been humbling how much support we have gotten through this. We are not yet fully Orthodox, but the family has stepped up in such a big way to support us that I’m at odds on how to say thank you correctly. We have friends who are from a different faith completely, and have shown more grace and the love of Christ than anyone else we know. I think the lesson here was to learn to let go, it’s a hard lesson for both of us, especially me the control freak. God has blessed us through both the church family at the Antiochian parish, and through friends who just want to make sure we are taken care of.
I’m not sure how many more CSI reruns I can watch on Hulu, computer time is still limited (I’m just about out of Gas on this now), but I can’t help but to feel truly blessed by God, and the people around us.
Last Sunday during the celebration of Theophany, we were accepted as catechumens into the Orthodox church, going from Catholic to Orthodox has been a long and complicated process. It’s been a year since we started talking to Fr Mark about converting. Digging into Theology, Doctrine, and the Orthopraxy of the church. There have numerous conversations about converting, and even going back to our local Parish. I have been ready for some time to convert, but Michelle had reservations she had to work through. But I was not going to go through the process without her, she needed my support, and so I waited patiently (sometimes!).
During the year, circumstances beyond our control forced us to re-evaluate our lives. I think what finally pushed us to make the decision was the grace and love we felt from Fr. Fenn and his wife Michelle (or “Matushka” meaning teacher, as she is known). Not once did we feel rushed or pressured, they offered nothing but support, and more importantly, room for us to work through conversion.
One thing that we began to notice was how supportive the whole Church has been, it’s hard to see when your being overwhelmed by the “Easterness” of everything. When it all finally started to become familiar, we noticed that indeed we were being welcomed.
On a very cold Sunday morning, we stood in the narthex while Father Fenn, and the whole congregation prayed us into the Orthodox church. It was a moving experience, and each Sunday now the whole Church prays for us as we move onto final confirmation.
As new catechumens we got to experience our first house blessings this weekend. I have to say right up front that this is what we have been longing for. It was a time of fellowship, warmth and a deep sense of family. Each home offered a light meal, and invited the church family to come and be part of the tradition.
There where candles, blessed water (getting tossed everywhere), and lots of singing.
We had some good discussions about history, theology, we made some great friends, drank wine, and something I’m still not sure was legal in some states. It was everything that I missed from the Protestant Churches, with Alcohol!!!
We walked away blessed, it removed any hesitation at being outsiders coming into a new world. Outside the structure of the Liturgy the parish family exudes incredible warmth and vitality.
I’ve been trying hard to not compare it to our experience in our local Catholic Parish, partly because I know there is in fact just as much warmth there. We just never got to experience it, we had fellowship to be sure, but it was always in the confines of the Parish. There is nothing wrong with that, however not since being part of a small SBC church, have we felt so much part of something more intimate.
We have also noticed some Catholic family’s starting to show up, we can spot them a mile away now, just like I could spot a first time protestant at Mass while Catholic. There is a glazed look that comes over their face, with a dawning realization of being overwhelmed by the smells and bells.I’m not sure why we are suddenly seeing more new Catholics showing up, maybe it’s that time of year. I have my own suspicions that I will write about later, I think it’s part of a movement towards the ancient, a hunt for authenticity and stability. And there are only so many choices when you head that direction…
More on that shortly…
We asked today to be allowed as Catechumens into the Antiochian Orthodox church, next sunday at the end of the Great Liturgy we will be accepted into the arms of the OCA and begin our journey to becoming fully Orthodox.
This has been a long and trying year for us, we left the Catholic Church, we stumbled at the strong middle eastern influence of the Orthodox liturgy, and our lives unraveled around us. At a time when we where between the shores of the Catholic faith and the Orthodox faith, I believe, God used circumstances to finally push us in the right direction. There is a huge sense of relief with our asking this morning, and the reception, along with the fellowship warmed our hearts.
I knew 5 minutes into the Liturgy this morning it was time, I signed to Michelle I was ready, and she told me later she felt the same calling. I don’t think that was coincidence, I think it more divine providence. We have been off and on with the OCA, struggling with the liturgy and the aesthetic nature of it all, I tend to shy from piety because of my background in the Baptist faith.
But a month ago I met over lunch with Fr. Mark, and we discussed our hesitation and concerns, he shared the difficulty in his conversion which helped us to relax and just let it happen. We stopped worrying about getting the details right, and let the liturgy come to us naturally, it made all the difference and we are beginning to finally settle in. I have also realized that the piety I was so concerned about, is nothing of what I experienced while I was a Baptist. It was an internal change, but one that allowed me to start taking my guards down, which is a big step. Even while Catholic I never fully let my true self out, I was always on guard at some level, I never felt the familial comfort that we have found with Orthodoxy. That’s not a knock at all against the Catholic Church, I’m just pointing out the difference in how we have been received. I did a full year in the ministry of Lector, and it was an honor to be able to serve and pronounce the Gospel, and if we could heal the Schism, I would sign up again because serving to me, is the highest form of praise.
This journey will change us, I can already see that we are going to need a basic understanding of Greek to get through this, that’s a challenge, I could say it’s all Greek to me right now!, and very little in the liturgy or practice uses western names. They are in many ways very close to the liturgy of the Catholic Church, just with wildly different names. There are new Diet restrictions, weekly fasts, a more stringent rules leading up to the Eucharist. It’s all doable, but it’s new, and it will take time to adjust.
So we will start out the new year on a new set of journeys, from a new house, kids moving out, and into a new and wonderful faith.
2013′s going to be a ringer of a year!!!
Bring it on!
There was a terrible tragedy a week ago, evil came to visit an elementary school, and took the lives of innocents. But now a week out and instead of praying for the family and victims, we have begun a witch hunt. And of course everyones favorite fantasy is to make guns illegal, it’s happened before and it’s never worked. It never will, in fact just like an atomic bomb, you can’t un-invent a technology. So even if we make guns illegal, you can still make one at home with little trouble. Arming the teachers is not a bad idea, except most teachers fear guns already. Turning our schools into prisons, which they already do here, might help, but ultimately it didn’t help in Sandy Hook. I don’t know what the answer is, Theodicy is the theology of explaining evil in the face of a good and loving God, and sometimes I just don’t think you can. Evil showed it’s face again, and it will happen again, no matter how many rights we take away from our citizens. But letting reactionary idiots on capitol hill run the conversation is going to lead to another TSA farce, where every one suffers but no one is really safe.
Finally got my iPad mini, if I’m not a certifiable Apple fanboy, then I have no idea what one is. I love the form factor, it’s just right for all the things I do, and fits into my coat pocket. The new cover for it is a disappointment, but Michelle ordered a switcheasy which will fix that problem. Now I just need an iPhone 5
The house sold two days into showing, we just signed the paperwork, now to see if the lender accepts. I think he will, it’s easy money and the attorney will make it hard for him to collect anything else, I just want all this over, and to get back on with our lives, we also sign the lease on a new property today.
The Pope is calling Gay Marriage the end of our civilization, I don’t know if I would go that far. I think the whole thing is a farce to begin with, it’s an outgrowth of a society that is focused on an unequal concept of equality. There are so many now who think that everything should be ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ and they are not interested in the consequences of their ideology. The Catholic view of sex, marriage and birth control forces them to be reactionary when dealing with these issues in the first place, I can’t tell you how much bad information I’ve heard from Catholics about these topics, especially birth control. And some of the arguments from some of the biggest names are so skewed and nonsensical that I wonder if they actually believe some of the junk they pedaling. Gay Marriage is not the end of the world, I don’t agree with it, I think it’s wrong. But I’m not going to stockpile my supplies and wait for the end of the world over it, I have the Mayans for that
Speaking of the Mayans, I’m glad that nonsense is over.
I’m hoping for a white Christmas this year, the first year we moved into this one (almost exactly seven years to the day) we got a white Christmas, this will be the last one with all the kids here. So I want it to be special, we will do Roast beef, open presents and watch old cheesy movies, and laugh a lot. It will be good, then we finish packing and start a new adventure.
Here’s hoping your Christmas is Merry and Bright, and take some time to reflect on the reason we celebrate each year, God, through Christ, reached out and gave us a savior, and freed us from the tyranny of sin.
I’m partially back to blogging again, my fingers are much better, but typing is still hit and miss due to the fact that I once had the ability to feel the keys on my left hand. That sensation is gone in one finger, and diminished in another. So my apple keyboard that I love so dearly, is now hard to use. I even bought a new Macbook Retina, and find it’s keyboard difficult to touch type on. I’ll get there, but it’s like learning all over again, and it saps my desire to sit and share my thoughts. The stairs that caused the accident are done, and I have a deeper and profound respect for anything with spinning blade.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the mankind’s proclivity to bend the truth in any given situation, sometimes knowingly and sometimes not.
Devin pointed me to a link on the Papacy and the East (it can be found here: Archbishop Minnerath on Rome, the Papacy, and the East), while I was completely outclassed by the level of participants, my take away from the conversation was very personal, and it enforced for me some core truths that I’ve been mulling over for a while now. However before I explain that, let me as bugs bunny would say ‘take a left turn at Albuquerque’…
I’ve pretty much used up all the middle years of my life, and one thing that has become an issue is the battle of the bulge. I’ve lost a good deal of weight over the last two years, but getting down to a ‘skinny’ weight sucks. We have been working out at the local gym, which is having a very positive effect on us, and helps with our goals. However the situation of getting good solid dietary advice is all but impossible. I’d like to explore the reasons for this a little and lay some foundational work about us as flawed human beings.
On friday we decided to hire a trainer, in our discussion with the head trainer he waxed poetic on their idea of a diet to lose weight on. Basically it consisted of a couple of things:
1. Portion Control.
2. Eating foods low on the Glycemic Index scale.
3. Avoiding foods like Carrots, which are “nothing but sugar”.
4. Eating leafy green vegetables (lots of them).
5. No Sugar free sodas or beverages which are “Just as bad or worse for you than a regular soda”.
6. Lower your salt intake.
The quoted words are theirs not mine, and it’s those I want to talk about. These people are trainers, they see lots of people in my condition, and they have a system they employ to get their results. If I follow their guidelines, I could lose 21 pounds in 20 days, and I have no doubt that works as advertised.
My issue is this: The dietary advice they are giving, while it may work. Is not only wrong, it’s deceptive.
Items 1 and 4 are perfectly fine, the other three are where the problems come in. They focus on the Glycemic Index, it’s system where they test the impact of a food on your glucose levels. What they do is have a patient fast, then eat a food item, and they run blood tests to gauge the impact. All fine and well, except that the result rely on a fasting period, which none of us do in our normal lives. There is a great deal of controversy around the system, because when applied incorrectly or without common sense you end up with the opposite results you where looking to get in the first place.
A good example is a baked potato, on it’s own it has a high glycemic index, but add olive oil which slows it’s impact on glucose levels and it becomes a low GI food item. The missing point is that it’s full of vitamins and other healthy nutrients. Another example of this kind of nonsense was a snickers bar and a cup of broad bean soup, both are very high on the GI scale, but you can guess which is better for you. No one is saying that the GI scale is bad, just that you need to apply common sense to use it correctly.
Which leads me to item 3, when the trainer said this, I registered a mental note to go do some research. Carrots do have sugar, but they also have LOTS of vitamins, fiber and other healthy things. The ADA (American Diabetes Association) recommends them as a good food for diabetics (this would mean raw or steamed, and not in a sugar glaze, common sense again). His claim that he never eats them made me suspicious, when people vilify something in the face of common sense, I begin to question their motives and methods.
The same with his final assault on all sugar free sodas and beverages, he drinks nothing but water, which sounds pretty damn boring to me. He doesn’t even drink coffee, which around here is almost sacrilegious. But when he asserted that a diet coke is worse for you than a regular coke, I again made a mental note. His reasoning is that it effects your metabolism and fools your body into consuming foods incorrectly. If you sit and actually think about that statement for a minute, you realize how patently absurd it is. I have cut down dramatically on my diet soda drinking not because they make me fat, which they can’t on their own (they have NO sugar, so no calories people), but because they have a ton of salt and aren’t all that good for you. He told me that if I was going to drink a soda drink a real one, which is the just about the worst advice I have ever heard, I’m pre-diabetic, if I want a soda I’ll do a diet so I don’t spike my blood sugar.
If you think I’m wrong on my stance here, then take it up with the ADA or the Mayo Clinic, or any number of other reputable organizations who’s information I used to come to the conclusion that my trainer is an idiot when it comes to diet. There is no science that sugar free drinks are worse for you, I almost tore into him when he started on Aspartame, which does in fact give rats cancer, IF THAT’S ALL YOU FEED THEM IN MASS QUANTITIES!! Those tests where so skewed, I’m amazed at how many people buy into crap like that, without ever digging any further than what they hear from some ‘expert’.
I’m not trying to say that the trainers at the gym are lying to us, but they are stating misinformation and using their position to qualify themselves as experts. I was able to take apart their arguments with a couple of quick google searches. They let their desire for confirmation of their vision crowd out the truth. And I can guarantee you if I walked in with a list of links showing that their positions are not backed by dietary experts, and medical organizations dedicated to this kind of science, they would never take the time to find out the truth. They would see it as an attack on their credibility, they have empirical evidence that what they believe is correct, so why would they ever question it?
You find this same position with Christians of all different stripes, from Evangelicals to Catholics, and yes even Orthodox. We build these belief systems, and then we spend our lives defending our castle of cards. It’s a human condition, Hume was right that we are shaped by our experiences. We also are rational beings ala Descartes, and once our castle is built, it takes a complete collapse before we reconsider our worldview. This is the human condition, I see it in politics, life, family, religion. So many times we are only interested in the truth that fits our preconceptions, it’s one reason that so many Atheists start out as believers, when they question their faith they run into the human need for absolutes, and especially in religion there is no room for doubt. And their questions are derided by the faithful who have no time for anything but absolutes in their world views. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we believers are better at making Atheists than we are good solid believers.
Truth, unfortunately is the first victim in our quest to be right. I’m no better than anyone at this, I constantly question my beliefs and presuppositions. The difference is that like Einstein, I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong given better information about any topic. What I believe today, will not be what I believe tomorrow, it will grow and shrink as I expand my understanding. There are constants to be sure, but even they can change in subtle ways. I love my wife in a deeper and different way, than I did when we first married. Today I know so much more about her, and us, what was important then, is no longer as important. The love remains, but it changes.
That’s how I view my faith, it’s been there a long time, but it’s changing, always. But it, like my marriage is changing because I have parsed through the lies, and deceptions and kept what I needed to and discarded the rest. One reason that I despise apologists so much, is they work in absolutes. Their faith demands it, but God is bigger than our absolutes, and only a fallible human can attempt to defend or define an infallible God, the fallible portion always colors the definition. It’s like the calvinist who is concerned about God’s sovereignty, the very fact that he sees the need to defend God’s sovereignty, defeats the purpose of his defense. A truly sovereign or infallible God needs no defense from fallible beings…
Catholics who claim Papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction have the same problem, they must defend both positions because the church has put them in an all or nothing situation. When history no longer works, they switch to philosophical rhetoric, arguing the necessity of their position. Round and round it goes, and there’s never a clear winner, because to concede their point, is to destroy their house of cards. Baptist’s, Lutherans, all of them do it. Because our human nature requires us to defend our house of cards, ignoring the truth that many times is so inconvenient to us.
It’s a bitter pill that we all must swallow at some time, our humanity, and our sinful nature, corrupts how we believe.
I am at a point where, I’m dealing with who I am, and what I am. What that means is that I’m at the moment apostate in my beliefs, it’s temporary while I work things out. But no amount of honey will help me swallow my own bitter pill.
We have been watching reruns of the X-Files, and at the climax of season one Deep Throat laying on the ground dying, with Agent Scully holding his head, whispers… ‘Trust No One’
What happens when you cross a saw blade, hot weather, a long day at work, and a stair case that needs finishing…
Thursday evening around 7pm. I was cutting some trim wood for a new staircase, it was hot outside and it had been a long day. I’m always terrified by small pieces when cutting, so I had all my jigs out, feather boards, blade down low. But I reached over to stabilize the piece and on the way back three fingers got torn up, I didn’t lose any digits thank God. But it happened so fast, I hardly knew what to do. As it so happened Michelle was driving up just as it happened, I grabbed my hand, blood spilling out all over the place and she knew just looking at me that it was bad. I held a rag to my fingers as long as I could before looking, the pads of fingers two and three where all torn up, and number four had a slice taken out. No bones touched, just mangled flesh.
I was so angry that I actually marched back out to the shop and finished cutting the piece with a towel wrapped around my hand! Once that was done I allowed my family to talk me into a visit to the local ER, not much they could do other than a tetanus shot and some creative bandages wrapped around my finger. By the time I hit the ER, the pain was in full force. So I got pain pills as well, and sympathy from the nurses which always helps.
That was three weeks ago, as you can imagine typing is not fun right now, in fact I work at a keyboard, so I only did half a a day at the office on my first day back, and my productivity disappeared. This is my first chance to actually do some typing without bandages, and I’m already starting to get sore. There has been a lot going on, but I can’t type for very long and after a long day of coding, the last thing I want to do is come home and hurt my fingers more.
I have been reading the Church in History series started by John Meyendorf, I’ve gone from 33AD all the way to the 600′s, and I have immensely enjoyed the series, the thing I like best about the books is that they are written from a scholars point of view. Meyendorf is Eastern Orthodox, but he doesn’t play favorites, he tells it like he sees it and gives credit where it is due. I’ve learned a great deal about the early church and it’s cemented many of the reasons I finally started moving to the Orthodox faith. I’ll post more when my fingers are up to the task.
Speaking of the EO, we are still in a tentative wait and see mode, the service is so….foreign. I don’t know any other way to put it, there was structure in the Catholic Mass, and I understood how and why it was put together. But the Great Liturgy is so different and changing, I’m still not comfortable. What I wouldn’t give for some simple guides, but they seem hard to find. So I spend a lot of time listening and trying to learn what is being said. It’s not that the church is unsupportive, it’s just so radically different that it’s a struggle for me to come to grips with it, I miss the structure and simplicity of the ordinary form Mass.
I’ll post more as I continue to heal, today was the first day without bandages and by the end of the day one finger had started to bleed, so it’s back to bandages for a little while longer.
In this place one can survive a long time, but no one is ever here by choice. A heart alone, devoid of life, surrounded by those who live their lives oblivious to darkness and pain.
This wasteland is of my own making, it’s a place that guards my heart. Providing isolation from those who would seek to impose their view of faith, life and love.
David has been here often, the Psalms are full of a darkness that plagued his existence. Oddly, I find comfort in his pain, it tells me I am not alone, others have shared this isolation.
How I wish I could find someone like David, who understands the pain and darkness. Instead of offering empty words, or fatuous bumper sticker theology, would just sit and suffer with me, shed a tear for my pain and simply offer nothing but sympathy.
This, more than anything else to me, is the mark of someone who understands why God whispers in the quiet hours and chooses to simply suffer with us.
Israel, Israel, your cries for justice did not go unanswered, like so many today, you missed the God of suffering in your midst.
There is a presence in the silence here, a still small voice. It calls to me, leading me on. Ahead I see the shore, and on the horizon a storm approaches, and I know I must endure, for my own good.
How did I get here? Does it really matter?
Those storm clouds may entail bad weather, but the rain and wind are needed to wash away the stains, so when they have passed, I can walk again into the glory of a new morning.
I find nauseating the words of so many who do nothing other than live their faith through empty statements, forced piety, and smiling faces. I would like to see them suffer, for no other reason that the same Bible they so quickly quote victory from, is just as full of darkness and defeat. Unless you understand suffering, sacrifice, and pain, then you will never truly understand what victory meant to those who have gone before you.
Just as insipid are those who selectively avoid the whole truth to push their theology, who will never be able to see beyond the lifeboat of their tightly held beliefs. They spend more time patching holes in their boat, than learning to swim in the storm of truth, they can never be free until they understand that truth lives outside our safety nets.
I’m surrounded by those who claim the title of Christ, but seem to have no measure of him anywhere other than their empty words. Justin Martyr said the same thing in his first apology written in the first century, funny how some things never change.
But I digress (not without good reason, mind you)
This place is temporary while I sort through what has become of my life, I have left the safety of the Catholic Church because I can no longer support their claims made in the last two centuries, they chose to make those beliefs dogma leaving no room for dissension. I have not yet fully entered into the arms of the Orthodox church, doctrinally I find them them to the most solid, but aligning my western worldview, with their eastern one is no easy feat. And I truly feel like an infidel, who has invaded a strange and holy place.
So for now I live in desert of my discontent, I find solace in those who have been here before, they filled the bible with their pain as well as triumph. It will all end, and the sun will shine again, but for now I need to carry on, and keep my eye focused on the prize.
This road has taken it’s toll, it’s meandered in out and of this place many times, but I still push on because I know that he’s calling me onward. At one time I thought the road stopped in Rome. I no longer know where it will stop, I’ve stopped worry about the where, and have just gotten busy with the moving part, one foot in front of the other.
I’ve been here before, but this time is different, this time I’m simply pausing to re-collect who I am, before I’m led on towards a new direction.