The Long Road... #2014reboot

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

#161 Hot Hammies

OK, not in the sense of "hottie" hot, but hot in the sense of burning up. That's what lunges left me feeling. My hamstrings were on fire. It was good to find such a simple way to work them, but it took me by surprise. The lunge is supposed to work my quads, isn't it? Yes, but the beauty of the lunge is that it is a compound movement. Both the hip and the knee are working at the same time.

Here's a video from a homey at Pittsburgh Boot Camp that does a goodjob talking about the best form for the lunge. If you don't know the joy of this movement. Be prepared. It hurts so good.



That's a movement that works both the front and the back of the leg at once. Nice. Efficient. Hot.

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Wt
Lunge
3
7
0
Bench Press
3
7
145
Lat Pulldown
3
7
150
Woodchoppers
3
7
110

After a five minute warmup on the treadmill, I hit the weight room intending to increase the resistance and the intensity. I added 10 lbs. to each exercise and reduced the rest period between. I want a simple, serious workout. A fast workout - one that wrings me out when I'm finished. The purpose here is two-fold. First, I want to build muscle mass as quickly as I can. That comes from lifting heavy weights - as heavy as you can safely handle. Second, I want to build as much cardio work into my weight training as I can - the way to do that is to keep moving, just like on the treadmill.

Peace,
Pennsy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#160 John Izzo and Working Up to the Lunge

This is John Izzo showing you how to teach your body the lunge.



John's Blog is called IzzoStrengthTraining.com and it's one I've been following and reading for a while. I recommend it to you if you are at all interested in personal training either as a pass time or as a career.

I like John because he has built a career and reputation without having to look like a Greek God. I promise you, that's a compliment. (No offense intended to Greek Gods.) He talks straight about his job, his victories, his challenges, and his professional ethics. And he makes sense.

Lunges are particularly difficult for me because they are about lifting most of your body weight with one leg. That's not always easy for me. Watching me get up off the floor can be pretty comical. So here's how John says to get started:

1.) Prepare by lowering your body unto the floor. Maintain an erect torso while on your knees. Eyes should be facing directly at a path in front of you and arms should be relaxed to your sides. At this point, the glutes and abdominals should be rigid or braced.

2.) With control, bring one leg forward. The knee of the other leg should still be touching the ground. This position resembles a “genuflect”. Eyes are still facing forward and shoulders are squared. The glute of the front leg should be contracted for the next phase.

3.) The front leg (which was forward) propels the body forward. With abs tight and glutes contracted, the trainee returns to the starting position with a “genuflect” and finally a kneel. The exercise is repeated on the other side.
What's good about Izzo's approach is that you start out in balance. If you start from a standing position, you have to execute the move without tipping over as you drop down. The difference may be mostly mental, but it makes sense to me to start out down on the floor. It isn't as far to fall.

I was never very good at this movement, but I'm hoping John's good counsel will help me to get better. I want to see those big old quads pop. And better lunges will make everything from my squats to my vertical leap bigger, too. to say nothing of the tight bootay that drives Mrs P wild.

Peace,
Pennsy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#159: Just a Little More



Cardio


Distance


Time


MPH


Pace


Heart Rate


Intervals


Treadmill

0.8

12:00
4.0
15
138

12 x 1


Good morning workout today. Nearly a mile and at a much more pleasing pace. I wonder why we look at numbers as thresholds. I'd rather run at 4.0 than at 3.9. I'd rather lift 200 lbs than 195. I guess that's what achievement is. The accumulated value of all those "just a little mores" that we press for each day.

People have started coming up to me asking, "Where have you been?" They're all very kind not to mention how much weight I've gained back. I tell them I've been sick for a while. It's good to be well again. Good to be running.

FAT MAN OF THE WEEK


This is Terrence Cody. On Saturday, he blocked two kicks to help Alabama squeak by Tennessee. He is one big dude. According to Pat Forde in ESPN.com:

His given name is Terrence Cody, but around here everyone calls him Mount Cody. See him up close and you know why -- at 6-foot-5 and 354 pounds, he is among the largest free-standing structures in the entire state.
And at a time when Alabama acutely needed someone to step up big, its biggest player broke through.

Mr. Cody (I'm thinking that's what I would probably call him) has maximized his talent and he's still getting better. He not only beat his blocker, he managed to get all those pounds up in the air and in front of two field goals in a game that the Tide won by 2 points. It's an easy thing to miss: blocking a kick. He did it twice by reaching, pushing, jumping just a little bit more than his opponent. He will soon be a very rich man and may be a great ballplayer, someday. Meanwhile, he's a very big man on campus and Tuscaloosa's favorite Fat Man. Roll On, Mr. C., Roll On.

Peace,
Pennsy

Friday, October 23, 2009

#158 Getting Up to the Bottom of a New Workout

Exercise
Sets
Reps
Wt
Squat
3
7
135
Bench Press
3
7
135
Lat Pulldown
3
7
140
Woodchoppers
3
7
100

Cardio
Distance
Time
MPH
Pace
Heartrate
Intervals
138
0.65
10:00
3.9
15.4
138
10x1
 
These first few days are about finding the starting place. At 49, I think I'm past the age where I can afford to be arbitrary about these things. My recovery time is still pretty long. I can work an area hard about every third day. I don't want to over do and put anything out of commission. So I'm working my way up to the bottom.
 
Now the cardio is interesting to me. Just two days ago, I ran 30 minutes at run/walk intervals of 2 minutes for the first 20, then 1 minute for the last 10. Today I turned the speed up a notch from 3.7 to 3.9 mph and had to work hard to finish 10 one minute intervals. Next I'll try to stretch out my time at that speed. I'd like to do that on Sunday, but it will depend on how the legs recover from today.
 
In the weight room, I'm still feeling my way. Squats today for my big lift. I'm going to rotate Squats, Deadlift, and Lunges for my whole body lifts. The push, pull, twist exercises will stay the same for a while. Those last three reps were a bear. I also increased the weight on the Woodchoppers a little. 100 may still be too light.135 lbs feels good for the Bench and Lat. Pulldowns for  now. Next time I'll do the dreaded Lunges. I will not need the 45 lb plates for those for a while.
 
Otherwise I'm feeling well. I've been writing in the mornings, trying to get up early and keep my routine intact. Nutrition is still pretty up and down. Once my performance in the gym gets in a groove, my eating should improve considerably. 
 
 

Monday, October 19, 2009

#157: Undefeated


















Exercise
Sets
Reps
Wt
Dead Lift
3
7
135
Bench Press
3
7
135
Lat Pulldown

3
7
140
Woodchoppers

3
7
90


Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall. ~ Confucius

Today I returned to one of my favorite places in the world. I didn't lift too heavy or too long, but I pulled on the gloves, loaded up the bar, and moved me some iron. I tried to run after lifting, but could only do about 10 minutes on the treadmill and about 3 on the elliptical. No real cardio benefit, I'm betting. I might have gone harder, but I didn't want to injure anything. I feel really good now that it's done. Came home and had some beans and rice. Tomorrow I'm going to run by my supplement regimen past the Docs to make sure my vitamins and fish oil won't interact with my meds. Meantime. Here's something that's occurred to me.

When you find yourself in the biggest mess of your life and you ask, "How did I wind up here?" take a minute. Think. You didn't wind up here. "Here" is just a step on the way to the next place, and the next. If you never give up, you'll never be defeated.

Peace,
Pennsy

Sunday, October 18, 2009

#156 The Church: Christ's Broken Body


Forgiving the church. It isn't easy. She's a wreck, broken. Her solution seems to be to keep breaking the pieces. It grieves me. I'm not sure how God feels about it. Does it matter if the church we invented to imitate God's son grinds itself into powder? Maybe not. There does seem to be something inevitable about it. We destroyed Jesus: at least for a time. How could we expect to treat the church any better?

Maybe we should let her die. Maybe the tower of Babel should come down. In the end, only the cornerstone will be left. The church will be broken apart and the children of god will finally know the lonely cost of serving the Creator: the loneliness of the cross. Without classes and meetings and projects and programs, we will have to seek other forms of fellowship. We will have to choose discipleship to the living God, or bondage to a dead institution.

Perhaps the cross does not deliver us from sin, but from death. Suffering alone on the cross, Christ showed us the way. We have to die to live.

This is a mystery to me, one that I can not comprehend, only imitate. The church may be doing just that. Like Jesus, the church may finally be delivered into life through her death, or maybe her death will make salvation possible for each of us.

I write all this because I feel the need to forgive the church. I asked too much of her once. I expected her to be better than the humans who made her up, and was disapointed. That is not fair, but that is what I feel. Like a child discovering there is no Santa Claus, my heart was broken. I don't know if I can ever love the church again, but in order to heal myself, I have to forgive her for the hurt I felt. Ultimately, it was my choice to feel it. Maybe today I can choose differently. Maybe that's what forgiveness is: God's choice to think differently about us.

Peace, Y'all.
Pennsy

Saturday, October 17, 2009

#155 A Mother's Work is Never Done

Three score and ten. Sounds impossible to me. I can't believe that my Mum is that old. I can't believe I've been around for most of that time. And I can't believe that she does the things she does while bearing the weight of all those years on her shoulders with such grace and generosity.

Pennsyltuckians are volunteers. In my family that means working for the church, the scouts, the community, the schools. Dad and Mom taught us that there are important things outside of our own skins, and that we ought to give them some attention. So Mom goes to quilting and Eastern Star and choir and school concerts and even sits through the occasional ball game if the weather isn't too bad. She has broken her leg, torn up her knee, had half of her thyroid removed, buried her parents and husband, and raised me and in spite of all the scars those ordeals have left, she keeps on going. Mum looks for the place in the world where she can do the most good, and she goes there. She is no isolated little old lady.

Three weeks ago, Mrs P called Mum to tell her that I had been admitted to the hospital. That was Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning my 70 year old mother packed her bags loaded up the car, and drove the eight hours from Pennsy' to 'Tucky to be with my wife and me. She was at every visiting hour. She drove to pick me up when I was discharged. Mom drove me to most of my outpatient treatments. She stayed with us for three weeks. This morning we kissed her goodbye and sent her back up North where the grandkids are pining for her and my sisters are wondering if she's ever coming home. She's coming home today, you guys.

And I am going to miss her. Mrs P and her clan are some of the weepingest folks you are apt to encounter. So this morning she wept. Mom got a little misty too, but we Northerners are used to a colder climate where moisture on the face can cause little frostbitten streaks down the side of the nose if the wind is right. We hold our tears pretty tightly. But Mom and I shared a few today. They were joyful tears.

There are moments shared with the ones you love that you will remember your whole life. A first kiss. Learning to cast a fishing lure. The day you finally let the clutch out without stalling the car. The broken heart that sent you crying in your mother's arms while she held you and couldn't think of anything to say except, "Oh, Honey. I'm so sorry."

The last three weeks just became one of those times for me. I'll never forget what Mum did for us here in the cold Kentucky rain. She saw where she was needed, and she came. I was raised by a great, great woman. I thank God that I lived long enough to realize it.

I love you, Mom. Thanks for always being there.

bob

Friday, October 16, 2009

#154 Returning to the Gym After a Loooong Hiatus

















WeightBody FatBP
39442.8%148 / 95


I'm not all the way back to where I was before I started working out in 2008. Just most of the way. I'm not really discouraged because I'm not really surprised. I knew I wasn't getting the exercise I needed, and I watched every bite of food as it went in. The truth is, I was so depressed most of the time that I didn't care if I gained weight and lost strength or not. Well I've spent some quality time with the headshrinkers and it turns out that yes, I do care. I lived healthy once, and saw the results of that change. I can do it again.

I am making some changes in my approach.
this time. I will be keeping my workouts much simpler and more intense. I want to burn off some of this fat in a hurry, and the way to do that is through frequency, intensity, and nutrition.

I am not going to get as involved in all those numbers that I love so well. Less time crunching data and more time crunching abs. I'll still update the "Tale of the Tape" periodically, but mostly I'll be tracking the three metrics above. Weight is easy to understand and to measure. Body Fat Percentage is also easy, and I think it's an important qualifier for body weight. Lots of athletes are classified obese even though they have very low body fat. Clearly that is not the case with me right now. But one day...

The last and scariest number is the one I've not tracked in the past: Blood Pressure. That's become important since my recent career struggles. I have taken a stab at several jobs, even tried to start my own business, but have not seen a steady paycheck for 14 months now. The combined stress of unemployement and poor job matches left me very depressed and hypertensive for the first time in my life. We are controlling it with medication for the time being, but I would rather do so with aerobic exercise if I can. I'll be hitting the cardio hard, but with care to be sure I am improving without having a stroke on the step climber.

My initial workouts are very gentle and low impact. The biggest difference I've noticed, besides my weight, is the weakness in my legs and butt. Squats are a real effort, and a lunge is not a realistic possibility. I'll be building leg strength in some other ways until the weight and joints are ready for those big lifts again. More on lower body later.

My cardio workout is 30 minutes on the treadmill in a very strict run/walk rhythm. I set the belt at what feels like a comfortably brisk walk to me, then alternate walking and jogging every 60 seconds, changing my gait without changing speeds. That allows me to get my heart rate up and a good sweat going, more than I could have with a faster walk. I am also able to go much farther than if I had been running or walking full speed the entire time.

Resistance training is also light; just upper body work with a blue band clipped to the wall. Push/Pull/Twist - Standing Chest Press, Standing Row, Woodchopper Right, Wood chopper Left. 50 reps each without rest between. That keeps my heart rate up and got a real burn started in my arms and obliques.

I'm also doing some things at home to work on the lower body strength. We've been moving furniture and boxes from the second floor to the basement. That's a lot of trips up and down stairs. I am being very deliberate in the way I lift and carry things. I don't want to hurt my back, and I want to practice my form so my body remembers how to lift heavy iron as well as liquor boxes full of old paperbacks.

All in all, it's good to be Pennsy today. My mental health is as good as it has ever been, I'm turning my body back in the right direction, and career prospects seem just over the horizon. I just have to keep working in the right directions.

Peace,
Pennsy

Saturday, October 10, 2009

#153 Fat Man Changing

Been a long time since fitness was on my agenda. This photo was from my last organized 5K, back in the Summer of 2008. Since then, unemployment, Major Depression and the Great Recession conspired to put me on my back and ultimately in the hospital for a few days. That sort of thing gets a 49 year old's attention. Not to mention a blood pressure reading that looked like a pretty decent bowling score.

So I'm making some changes.

I've decided to change the name of the blog back to its original Fat Man Running. It isn't a comment on my self-esteem, I just like the way it sounds. So the Fat Man is back on the road, running for his life. I'm back on the treadmill, walking till I get my legs back under me. Bye-bye caffeine. Hello regular sleep hours. So long salt shaker. Hello to the small army of family and friends, therapists, pharmacists, and headshrinkers who will be helping me along the road.

And hello to Pennsy, too. I haven't felt like myself for a long, long time. The past year has taught me a lot about other kinds of fitness - fitness that you don't get under the bar or over the elliptical. In the past few months, I've been as beaten down as I ever have in my life, but by the grace of God and the love of Mrs Pennsy, I'm off the canvas and back in the fight again.

Finally, I'm merging my two blogs. Pennsyltuckian was fun to work on, but I am no longer convinced that spirituality ought to be separate from physical health. The two are more intimately linked than I ever suspected and I'll be treating them accordingly here.

So hey, y'all. The times are changing. The Steelers are playing. And the Fat Man runs again.

Peace,
pennsy

Sunday, July 5, 2009

#152 Hi, this is God. Please leave a message...

Hi, this is God. I can’t come to the phone right now, please leave a message after the tone.

There have been good times and hard times when God has been quick to call back. Even if it’s only to leave a message, I’m here. I’m working on it. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to you.

Lately when my phone rings, it’s always someone else.

Elie Wiesel wrote about God’s silence in the night of the Nazi Genocide. My sense of proportion isn’t that far out of whack. I know that losing my job and savings isn’t the same as dying at Auchwitz. I don’t know anything about that kind of suffering.

But I do know about the silence of God. Run a Google search on that phrase and count the clich├ęs and platitudes. For centuries people have tried to speak for this speechless Father, this unmoved Creator. But there’s the trouble. No creature can say anything to compensate for the sense that the God’s back is turned.

After the self-pity, after the unrequited love has passed, there is a choice to be made. If God is not calling back – if God is indifferent to my life – how do I set my own course? How to keep believing in myself when if seems God has given up on me?

When God abandoned Jesus, he gave up the ghost. I don’t have that luxury. My suffering is real, but far from biblical. The great models of perseverance and faithfulness in the scriptures aren’t much help. I’m no Jesus, no Job, not even Jonah. The sufferings of Pennsy aren’t going to matter to anyone in 50 years.

So if God isn’t going to pitch in, what do I have to rely on?

Will. First, I have to choose to go on, and so I do. I choose to keep living.

Love. God does not return my calls, but Mrs P does. My mom does. My sisters, my oldest friend, even our animals. They believe in me and their faith gives me strength.

Wisdom. Betrayal is a great teacher. Not every one who acts loving actually loves. Not everyone who receives feels gratitude. There is a part of a man that he can’t afford to give away, not if hw wants to go on living, working, fighting for the people he loves.

Honor. That old fashioned word that means the value of a name. The shine has been dulled over the years, the finish dented and scratched, but in the end, my only real treasure is the value of my name, the value of my word.

Jesus told the story of a man who held a feast. The fine people he invited chose not to attend, so the man opened his doors and welcomed in the folks he could trust. The common people of the street who may not have been as highly regarded as their “betters”, but who were faithful to the host who offered his hospitality and himself.

God is welcome in my life, and may choose to return someday, but for now I have to go on without the voice I have grown so accustomed to. If God chooses not to walk with me, so be it. I will continue to walk. I will walk as God taught me. I will continue to pray into the silence and to work through the darkness.

I have waited long enough for God to speak. It is time to face the silence with the people who love me enough to call back.

Peace,
pennsy

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Freedom For Iran - By Any Means Necessary



The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he's within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don't think he'll be by himself.
During his journey to Mecca, Malcolm learned that the "prophet" he followed had distorted the message of Islam. He tried to tell the world and was murdered.

For 12 long years I lived within the narrow-minded confines of the 'straightjacket world' created by my strong belief that Elijah Muhammad was a messenger direct from God Himself, and my faith in what I now see to be a pseudo-religious philosophy that he preaches.... I shall never rest until I have undone the harm I did to so many well-meaning, innocent Negroes who through my own evangelistic zeal now believe in him even more fanatically and more blindly than I did.
Today, the people of Iran are seeking thier own rights and freedom from tyrants and false prophets. God forbid our nation - founded on those very principles - should leave them by themselves.

I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.
America must act with wisdom so as not to become an obstacle to freedom in Iran. But when we do act, we must do so as the people in Tehran's streets have done - to put an end to injustice, without compromise, by any means necessary.

Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression.
Peace,
pennsy

The Malcolm X Project
MalcolmX.com

Malcolm-X.org

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Power of Hope

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen -- Hebrews 11: 1
"Substance" and "evidence": solid stuff. We are used to thinking of faith as a sort of smoky spiritual thing, as if our faith is what allows us to have hope – to see the unseen. But this scripture suggests otherwise. Faith is not the cause, but the product of hope. Without that hope for things not seen, we can never know the gift of faith.

And what a powerful gift it is. Just look at this role call:

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: -- Hebrews 11: 17 – 32
There is great power in faith. It lets us move mountains but it does not exist in a vacuum. Like serenity, faith is a child of hope.

If we renounce despair, if we choose to live in hope, then God’s gift to us is faith: the power to do amazing, irrational, radical, miraculous things. This is more than just the sugary sweet “positive attitude” that so many exhort us to pretend we have. Hope is not a sunny disposition and a clench-jawed smile. Hope is a hunger for the invisible. It is living as if the things we cannot know are in fact true.

Our history, our experience may teach us that failure is inevitable. People will always disappoint, power will always corrupt, and ambition will always fall short. Life may teach us those hard lessons, but living in hope is living as if people can succeed, as if power can be used for good and goals can be reached. The letter to the Hebrews promises that a life lived in hope will have power – that substance and evidence of the unseen and unknowable Kingdom of God that we call faith.

Do not grieve your lack of faith. Rather choose to live in hope, knowing that faith will be added to you.

Peace,

pennsy

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Serenity is the Child of Hope

What to do about the culture of despair? For starters, we might begin closer to home.

There are lots of discouraging things happening in our lives these days. We're losing count of the number of friends who have been laid-off. Friends and family are sick, some seriously so. Bill collectors are learning our names and our 401(k) manager won't take our calls. Much has been lost, and we fear losing what's left.

For a person inclined to mental darkness there is never a shortage of reasons to expect the worst, but these days it's hard for even the merriest of us to keep looking for silver linings. It is tempting to flee our hard lives by focusing on "big issues". To worry about questions like, "What can I do about the culture of despair?" instead of, "What can I do to make our house more peaceful for Mrs P when she comes home today?"

Serenity is the child of Hope, and serenity comes from knowing the difference between the things you can change and the things you can't. I can't change you. I can't change the world. But I might be able to change myself just enough that God can use me to make a difference for someone.

Now that's a change worth hoping for.

Peace,
pennsy

Path God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gospel of Despair

Where does this end? There are a couple of ways this pattern plays out. The most likely one is that the extremist commandos go a bridge too far -- they're successful on a scale that scares the rational rebels into putting down their guns and bombs, leaving the really crazy actors back at the level of lone wolves...


The other (far less likely, but far worse case) scenario is that the entire country is persuaded to take leave of its senses and take sides, launching a civil war. Given the number of Americans, both left and right, who are thoroughly disgusted with the corporatocracy and increasingly convinced that Congress is too corrupt to deliver even the basics to anyone who's not rich enough to write their problem on the back of a check, it's not a far stretch to imagine a right-wing populist movement that sucks large chunks of the working and middle classes into a full-scale revolution. If the conservative movement does not take a stand against these extremists, they may find that their silence will give permission to actions that are far worse.


... The best thing progressives can do right now is stay in close touch with our base, do whatever we can to restore average Americans' faith in their government. In this incendiary environment, we can't afford to let them lose faith.


Tragedy at the Holocaust Museum: Stand Up To Terror
Thursday, June 11, 2009

-- By Sara

I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “right-wing”. I’m not sure it applies in these cases. The language implies a separate member of the same body - one bird, two wings. These domestic extremists, whatever their ideological framework are not on the far right wing, they are part of another bird altogether.

I’ve been doing some research on White Nationalists, including choking down Von Brunn’s book. These people loathe the “right-wing”. They aren’t conservatives; they are revolutionaries who anticipate a war they consider to be inevitable and imminent. The website “White Aryan Resistance” or WAR has changed its name to “The Insurgent.” Their model is no longer the organized militia, but rather the so-called Lone Wolf. As the examples from Orcinus suggest, they are more likely to resemble suicide bombers than secret societies.

The author’s point is worth considering for the church as well as for the nation. Americans ARE losing faith in the ability of their institutions to function. As a child of the seventies, I was raised to question authority. Today, we find ourselves questioning authority’s very existence. Is there any institution that does not lie, cannot be bought, will not betray those who put their trust in it?

There is nothing less biblical, less Christian than despair, yet the gospel of despair is being preached all over our nation today. We are being told there is no reason for hope; failure is inevitable, even desirable. Once it seemed quaint to mourn the loss of civility in our public discourse. Today we need to recognize that much more than good manners are at stake. We need to demand the best of our leaders, both secular and religious – but we also need to accept our own responsibility in the equation. Our language does have consequences and much more than the tone of our national debate is changing.

Fear has always thrived at the extremes. As that fear starts touch both the right and left banks of the political mainstream we can choose to oppose it, or else surrender to the prophets of disaster. It has been fashionable to throw the expression “culture wars” around in a metaphorical sense for some time. How can Christians keep it from becoming literally true?

Peace,
pennsy
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