Friday, May 27, 2011

Fear of Running

I am not in shape...

Underlying that statement is the question "Who defines what in-shape is?" If I lived in a culture that worshiped fat I would be a demi-god. So let me rephrase:

I am not as fit and healthy as I would like to be, and that is in danger of impeding my day to day activities if I don't do something about it.

I have just started an exercise program called 'From Couch to 5K', it takes 20 minutes, 3 times a week. I went out on Tuesday evening for the first time. Steve came with me, and we jogged for 60 seconds then walked for 90 seconds, repeating that pattern 8 times.....I managed 7 times and then walked the rest of the way. It takes only 20 minutes to do, but I have a long recovery time afterwards.

This morning was my second session, and I was going out alone. I was sitting on the couch in my exercise gear ready to go and I felt a wave of emotion flood across me. 'I don't want to do this. I'm afraid'.  The level of emotion was far stronger than the action warranted so I sat with myself a while to allow myself time to feel, and work out where this emotion was coming from.

I have exercise induced asthma.

As I sat on the couch I remembered a family vacation to Llandudno from when I was 14. My parents had let my brother and I go off by ourselves while they headed back to the hotel. We went to the Amusement Arcade by pier to play penny slots. They also had a large Bouncy Castle that we both played on.

It was during the walk back to the hotel that I knew I was in trouble. My breathing was getting faster, shallower and more labored, and my rescue inhaler was on the nightstand. My brother left me sitting on a patch of grass by the side of the road and ran back to the hotel to get my medication.

I remember Cross Country Running in High School, panting around at the back of the group for one lap and then going in earlier gasping for breath.

I remember as a child waking up in the middle of the night with an asthma attack so severe that the doctor was called to the house about 3am to inject me with adrenaline.

I have not had an asthma attack in years. I cannot remember my last attack. My medication works very well. I get short of breath, but that is because of my level of fitness and not my asthma.

Knowing I am safe and that running is ok didn't mean a thing when I was sitting on the couch this morning. The fear may have been unjustified, but it was real. I didn't have anyone else with me to go get help if something went wrong, I had no brother to 'run back to the hotel'.

I knew that God was with me, but he was with me in Llandudno too, but He didn't run back to the hotel, my brother did.....and yes I know I can say that my brother was being the Presence of God to me then, but I didn't have anyone to be that presence while I was running today.

Now I love a good theological conundrum as much as the next person, it's the kind of thing I can sit and think about for hours...but sitting and thinking is not getting me out of the door exercising. So I decided I needed to re-frame my jogging in a way that made it positive.

That's not easy for someone who once had a severe asthma attack while asleep!!!

I picked a subject for prayer and asked God to receive the sound of my foot hitting the sidewalk as a prayer of petition.

Exercise became Intercession.

Out the door I went, and like Tuesday I managed 7 repetitions of the pattern and then walked the rest of the way. 

I'm hoping this gets easier...I'm hoping I can keep re-framing this activity as prayer. I'm hoping that if someone asks for prayer my first thought will be 'Where are my running shoes?'

Monday, May 23, 2011

God and Wham!

My brain woke up in an unusual state this morning (well probably every morning). I am reading How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins and when I went to bed last night I read this passage:

The term (idolatry) can be understood to refer to any attempt that would render the essence of God accessible, bringing God into either aesthetic visibility (in the form of a physical structure, such as a statue) or conceptual visibility (in the form of a concept, such as a theological system). Like an aesthetic idol (such as the Golden Calf in the book of Exodus), the conceptual idol refers to any system of thought which the individual or community takes to be a visible rendering of God. The only significant difference between the aesthetic idol ad the conceptual idol lies in the fact that the former reduces God to a physical object while the latter reduces God to an intellectual object. ~ Page 12

I slept with that passage rattling around in m brain, and woke this morning with that passage still processing, and along side it my brain was singing the following song:

I spent much of the day trying to forge a connection between these seemingly two unrelated topics.

The way I understand what Peter Rollins was saying is that we need to be careful about how we think about God. Our very belief about how we believe in God can become an idol that can distance us from God. We cling to our own particular concept of God even in the face of conflicting evidence.

Looking at this Wham video from 1984 it's hard to believe that anyone missed the fact that George Michael was Gay, but at the time the possibility never entered mine, or any of my friends brains. He dressed trendily and consequently many of the girls at my school were into him. The thought that he might be anything different to the image that we saw presented seemed impossible. Like the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, we failed to see what was right before our eyes.

Incidentally this view of George Michael was wonderfully captured in the movie Adam & Steve. Adam sees Steve dancing onstage at a nightclub in 80s New York, his friend Rhonda tries to persuade him to go talk to him.

Rhonda:  What's with that solid gold dancer with his ass in the air?
Adam:    The dazzle dancer?
Rhonda:  Yeah, why don't you guys get married!
Adam:    I don't even know if he's gay.
Rhonda:  He's got like frosted hair.
Adam:    George Michael has frosted hair and he's like totally straight.

But I digress :)

When the news that George Michael was gay filtered out to the general public I remember many girls who refused to believe it. They believed that if the right girl came along he could be reformed (and most of them cast themselves in the role of his savior). Their concept of George Michael had become an idol that the clung onto even in the midst of conflicting evidence.

Peter Rollins goes on to say:

Western theology has all too often reduced the beautifully varied and complex descriptions of God found in the bible to a singular reading that does violence to its vibrant nature. The bible itself is a dynamic text full of poetry, prose, history, law and myth all clashing together in a cacophony of voices. We are presented with a warrior God and a peacemaker, a God of territorial allegiance and a God who transcends all territorial divides, an unchanging God and a God who can be redirected, a God of peace and a God of war, a God who is always watching the world and a God who fails to notice the oppression against Israel in Egypt. ~ Page 13

It surprises me how often people talk with absolute certainty about Divine Mystery. My experience of God has gotten so much larger as I journey through life, and many conceptual idols have been smashed along the way. For a description of one of my recent idols being smashed read this post here.

So there it is, God and Wham combined in one blog post.

Proof of my insanity?

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm a Cartoon :D

This is a pic of me from a few years ago, playing the boardame Einfach Genial!

And this is cartoon me playing the same game as drawn by my talented friend Brandon! Thanks a lot buddy!!!

Cuban Pork

Occasionally I like to do something really over the top in the kitchen just for the sheer fun of it.

Today I made Cuban pork

Make a marinade out of Orange Juice, Olive Oil, White Vinegar, Garlic, Cumin, Oregano, Salt and Pepper and smear it all over a pork shoulder and let it sit for 2 hours.

Make sure you put 1 inch slits all over the pork so that the marinade can penetrate.

Then roast in a slow oven for 6 hours, and then let rest for another hour before you can eat and enjoy.

I'm serving this with Black Beans that have simmered with a Ham Hock and various herbs and spices for 2 hours and also some rice.

The leftover pork will become Empanadas on Saturday and reappear with pasta on Sunday!!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An interesting story from 'How Not To Speak of God' by Peter Rollins

"It was one of the watershed events in my life, like your first car, your first day at university, or when you decide to like coffee or dislike Madonna. They were the decisions that, one way or another, started to define your life and your identity. For me, of course, the one that truly stands head and shoulders above all those mundanities was the day that I finally decided to inform my parents that I was straight.

It seemed so absurd not to tell them. I was an adult; I'd moved out years ago. Everyone close to me knew I was straight. And my sister swore up and down that my father had known for years.

I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but what I got was that reserved and quiet resignation and forced understanding which seems to be unique to people of my parents' generation. My mother, who has always disliked the term 'straight', kept using the word 'heterosexual', which made me feel a bit like a lab animal.

My father didn't let on whether he'd known or not, but his composed exterior did seem reasonably genuine. As with most other things, he was processing it all deep inside himself: "My son is a straight man. My son is attracted to women." We've always got on fine, and I do think that he didn't want to turn into the stereotypical disappointed dad.

Introducing them to Elizabeth was the next hurdle. This, of course, was like having to do the whole announcement all over again. This was when it all became real. I was inviting my parents into my whole 'heterosexual' world. Luckily, Liz is incredible, and once they'd met her, my parents enjoyed her very much as a person. After they'd left, Liz and I had a good laugh at my mother's studied usage of the word 'heterosexual'.

I should have known that the final hurdle would be big family get-togethers like Christmas. My mother has quietly made it known to me that she'd 'prefer' that Liz not come, the pretense being not upsetting my grandmother. It's not the first time that my mother has pulled this tactic out of the bag, by the way - make my grandma the villain. I just want to scream, 'Grandma knows!' She's known I was straight since I was 14! Never have I felt more accepted by anyone on earth than by her, and she's 85! Why do you think that I talk to her, Mother, and not to you? It's because she was the one who looked deep into a teenager's eyes and said, 'Well, don't you forget that God loves you , and I love you....Now go out there and meet some gorgeous girl!'

Thanks, grandma.

An anonymous story written by someone in the IKON community.
How (Not) To Speak of God by Peter Rollins

Friday, May 06, 2011

April Board Games Played

This will be a very sparse post as I'm fighting a head cold and losing, but I wanted to get these listed before I forgot.

April had 18 plays of 13 different which were the lucky ones that got played twice?

Black Friday - Buying and selling shares, interesting and challenging (and not quite as fiddly as it seems once you get a good understanding of the rules)

Enemy Chocolatier - I don't remember much about it...obviously it didn't make much of an impression.

For Sale - the classic filler game, fun and tension in real estate, and the game plays in 30 mins woohoo.

Prophecy - It's a modern version of the classic 'Talisman' game, but it still feels too long for what it is.

Telestrations - It's a drawing party game. Keeping score doesn't work, but you are guaranteed to laugh a lot.

Other games played?

Armorica, Bohnanza, Castle Panic, Coyote, London, Members Only, Piece of Cake and Shadows Over Camelot.