Monday, July 30, 2007

General Patton on "the War on Terror"

This is circulating the internet.

Trusts and Estates Lawyers

My partner, Juan, has a post on his blog about the off-center breeds of lawyers who find their way to the trusts and estates practice, a practice that we at our firm hold dear. Juan cites the David Margolick book on the Johnson & Johnson probate/trust litigation. In the book Margolick classifies such lawyers as "eccentrics, aristocrats, gays, fops, . . . oddballs, geniuses, and women." If there is a problem with this classification, then it is only with respect to the limited number of such categories not in the main-stream, although "eccentrics" and "oddballs" are pretty broad, and I am very comfortable in either of those classes. I aspire to be a fop, but I don't think I'll make it. I think I'm just going to have to settle with being an oddball.

But you know all that.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The XO Laptop

"One Laptop per Child" - looks like we are well on our way to that goal.

Consider the implications.

Daniel Schorr

If you listen to NPR on Saturday morning, a sort of guilty semi-pleasure in which I indulge as I drive to the office, you probably will hear Scott Simon go over with Daniel Schorr all of the stories of the just previous week, those stories, that is, that NPR and its MSM allies decided were important. Simon simply defines the sort of smug broadcast reporting NPR typifies. Schorr is absolutely predictable on any given political issue, but at least he's entertaining and smart.

I laughed out loud when Schorr, commenting on VP Cheney undergoing heart surgery, said that the VP had made arrangements to turn over to President Bush temporarily his powers to run the country before submitting to the operation.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sofa Beds

For visiting couples who don't get along. (Scroll down.)

Calories

Sometimes we post just for reference purposes. Here's a site that shows calories for various foods.

In WW, one converts this data to "points" using a little slide rule that you obtain in the program. WW involves the adoption of a plan where you track your "points" every day. You can eat whatever you want, provided that you do not exceed the total daily points that you allocate to your particular weight loss or maintenance program. So WW is not about denying yourself certain foods (go for it Lindsay!); it's about "portion control", that is, limiting the amount of those foods. A person, then, could be a "meat and potatoes" type, and still be successful.

On the other hand, "low [calorie] density" foods tend to fill you up faster and have relatively fewer points per serviing. An apple, for example, would be one point. A large toll house cookie might be 5 or six points. If one's daily points target is, say, 22 per day (with 36 reserve points per week), one would probably want to eat the apple most days - but now and then go for the cookie.

You also can add "activity" points to your daily routine in WW. For example, right now I am trying to return to my "goal weight" of 155 and that means I am on a 22 points per day program. But I usually walk 2 miles when I get up each morning. That will give me one activity point, according to another little slide rule you get from WW, so I would have 23 points to burn that day.

I mentioned having 36 reserve or "flex" points per week. Flex points are extra points you can use if you need to on a given day. If each week I keep within my daily 22 points, plus the activity points, plus my weekly flex points, then I should lose an average of 1 pound a week. This is the "flex plan".

You carry around a little "tracker" to record what you eat and the points you charge yourself. It sounds a little complicated, but it's not, once you get in the swing of it.

There is an alternate WW system one can adopt. This one is the "core plan". On this one, you can eat pretty much unlimited amounts of certain "core" foods. As to "non-core" foods, you limit daily portions according to the point system. With this system, you don't have to "track", that is write down in your diary, the core foods that you eat. (For example, steak is not a core food, but potatoes - not fried potatoes - are.) Some people seem to do better on the "core plan" than on the "flex plan".

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fire Your Friends, Lose Weight

Having overweight family and friends increases the likelihood someone will become overweight, according to a Harvard researcher who examined obesity and social network data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study.

More here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Miscellany

My law partner Jane went to Barnes & Noble (Borders? I can't remember which one she mentioned. And is there a difference?) with her two teenage sons on midnight of Harry Potter night. She said that the line was hours - hours long, and they were near the end of it. After awhile, people started coming out of the store, having bought not just one but several books. Those people offered their extra books for resale to those toward the end of the line for $30 apiece (they had just paid $20 for each of them inside the store). Jane bought one and they went home. She did the math. That's why she's such a great law partner.

There's a big article on the front page of the WSJ today about how states are cancelling new coal fired electric generators the construction of which had been authorized, on account of the carbon emission issues. The price of coal mining stocks is now heading south, having ramped up over the last couple of years because of the higher and higher cost of natural gas and oil. We have a huge supply of coal, enough to take care of our energy needs for decades and decades. But no. That's not to be. Florida's new Republican governor is at the forefront of this turn away from coal. (Florida gets a lot of its fuel from Venezuela, so don't worry.) UPDATE: Ooops. Glenn Reynolds beat me to it.

The WSJ also reports that iPhone orders undersold expectations, which surprises me. Some people are blaming it on ATT's inability to keep up with the demand for connecting to the system. I think its because so many people are so involved in trying to figure out their Treos (mostly unsuccessfully) that they didn't notice.

Mary flew into Miami from Africa today. She came home for a quick shower and took off with Carol for Dadeland.

Some theology.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Well, Shoot!

Diet drinks are out! There really ought to be something one could imbibe that would quench one's thirst, be safe, would be relatively inexpensive, and, finally, refreshing. We should all pray that just what that is would be revealed to us.

UPDATE:

Yesterday's WSJ has a column by the Health Journal editor, Tara Parker-Pope, on this subject. It's balanced and worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

The new report from the Framingham study compared soft-drink consumption among nearly 9,000 middle-aged men and women. Overall, soda drinkers were at 48% higher risk for metabolic syndrome, a collection of health problems including being overweight, and having blood-sugar levels signaling diabetes risk. The risks of metabolic syndrome were about the same whether the soft drink was sugared or sugar-free. The study authors noted that the research doesn't prove sodas cause health problems.

What about trying this for four weeks:

1. Drink only water, natural juices (coffee and tea, of course, we are not a bunch of crazies, after all. Maybe some wine now and then. It's from the grape, after all), but no soft drinks of any sort. UPDATE: Add skim milk. UPDATE UPDATE: Add margaritas.

2. Eat nothing with refined sugar in it. Nothing. Nada!

3. Eat whole wheat and not white breads. Brown rice, not white rice. Sweet potatoes not white potatoes.

4. Eat no meat or, at the very least, no red meat.

That leaves mainly veggies and fruits. See what happens.

Who will do this? Let us know. Keep us up to date.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The USS Dale in WWII

Ken, one of the men in our Saturday morning breakfast group at the Cozy Corner, served on a destroyer during the Korean War. He loaned me Tales from a Tin Can, which is about the USS Dale, a destroyer that served in the Pacific during WWII. The author's father served on that ship, and the author had little idea of what his dad had done in the war until he went with him a few years ago to a reunion with the crew. He was amazed and fascinated by the stories they swapped, and, a writer by trade, he ran to the car and got his tape recorder. Like pearls on a silver thread, he has strung those stories chronologically in this book, along a narrative of his own that helps place the stories in context. It is an easy, enjoyable read, and I learned a great deal about destroyers, fleet movements, typhoons, the Japanese.

For example, I had no idea that the Japanese occupation of a couple of the Aleutian islands in Alaska caused so much concern in the US and resulted in one of the first of the war's amphibious landings, difficult though successful landings that helped prepare the Navy for landings later in the war.

When you read about the kamikaze and other suicide tactics that the Japanese desperately employed in 1945, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki makes a lot of sense. The US Navy lost almost half of the ships it lost in WWII in the Pacific during that year, 1945, because of the desperation of the Japanese. I've heard it before, but the book recounts the belief that there would be over 1 million casualties on the US side if it took an invasion of the Japanese homeland to finish the war. And the Japanese were willing to sacrifice millions of their own to make the cost so high that we would negotiate.

"Who's a-shakin' my bed?"

Mary reports on tremors in Kenya, and otherwise updates us on her seminar work south of Nairobi.

The tremors are accounted for here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NPR "reports" on Kenya

And it's not good. Note how several paragraphs into the article, the writer takes a left-turn into a radically anti-evangelical position. Are we surprised?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Veggie Tales: Daniel, Chapter 1

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia [a] and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility- 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. [b] 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.

6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your [c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you."

11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

High glycemic diets may increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration

This is big, I think:

In a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested the theory that dietary glycemic index (GI), which has been associated with the risk of diabetes and CVD [cardiovascular disease], may also increase the risk and severity of AMD [age-related macular degeneration] in elderly populations . . . Compared with the eyes in those with the lowest GI diets, eyes in the high GI subjects had significantly higher risk of AMD progression and severity. There was a 49% increase in the risk of advanced AMD for persons who ate a diet higher than average in GI. Researchers noted that the results indicated that 20% of all AMD cases in the study would have been eliminated if the participants consumed diets with a GI below the average.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Brandon's Dad: A Grade A Father

Brandon is two and half years old, the son of a very young couple we know. Because of extensive kidney problems, Brandon's had a rough time of it, and probably should be in heaven by now, but for some serious prayer, a lot of which has been going up from our church. The young couple are part of the extended family of some wonderful people in our church. We have been getting reports on Brandon and his young parents and praying for him and them since he was born. Our congregation met Brandon for the first time about a month ago when his parents presented him for baptism.

We Presbyterians aren't supposed to baptize infants when the parents are not in our church or a sister church. So were we going to hold the line on Brandon? Are you kidding? We readily bypassed that bit of theology. He's one of us, and so is this couple, whatever the technical details may be.

Brandon was just about as cute and alert and well-behaved as anyone would have any right to expect of any young man of any age. It was a great moment to see Brandon baptized, surrounded by a loving family and an intensely focused congregation.

Brandon and his parents are now in Pittsburgh where the university hospital there is getting ready for a kidney transplant from his mom.

Carol was telling me that, right now at least, those transplants only last around seven years. Both his mother and his dad are good matches, but his dad gave Brandon a blood transfusion early on when Brandon needed it, and the physicians are concerned that Brandon may have developed some anit-bodies that will make accepting a kidney from dad very risky. But we'll see.

Brandon's dad had always been over-weight, Carol tells me. But he's lost 50 pounds getting himself in shape for whatever the physicians may need to do to his body to take care of Brandon's.

Two Bads

Bad 1:

Patient: Doctor, I think I'm a moth. Can you help me?

Dr.: You think you're a moth?

Patient: Yes. Can you help me?

Dr.: Well, I'm just a general practioner. You need to see a psychiatrist.

Patient: I know that, Sir. In fact, I was on my way to the psychiatrist's office when I saw your light.

Bad 2:

Old feller is in bed upstairs, about to die.

From below comes the aroma of home-made chocolate chip cookies baking.

He says to himself, "Before I go, I'm going to have one last chocolate chip cookie", and he painfully crawls out of bed, down the stairs, into the kitchen, and reaches his hand up to grab a cookie from the cooling rack on the kitchen table.

WHAPP!!! A spatula hits his outstretched hand. "You let that thing go, Hiram!" his wife demands. "Those are for the funeral!"

Unsweet Tomatoes

Last night Carol and I went to Sweet Tomatoes, a sort of salad restaurant that we love. The problem with that place is that one's usual defenses against over-eating are disarmed. This place is about salad, after all. So everything goes, right? Wrong.

I piled high a plate of salad, and the plates the restaurant offers, while not huge, are not of an ungenerous size. It is a serve yourself format, and the process involves putting one's plate on one's tray and then walking down a long buffet line, loading up. (What happened to all my WW "portion control" disciplines?) While almost all the items are vegetable based, there is some chicken salad here and there, some mayonnaise and oil. However, I think if I had kept just to the plate of salad, I would have been all right, especially since I did not eat unsparingly earlier in the day.

But then we sit down and start eating, and along comes a person from the restaurant offering chocolate chip cookie pieces, and we take some. Then, when we finish with the salad, we get up and go get a cup of "soup", which for me is a bowl of chili into which I mix about a quarter cup of white rice. This is not a large bowl at all, I tell myself. After I finish that, I go to the bread line and get a couple of pieces of foccasia bread - not large pieces, small pieces, but two of them nevertheless.

Then I visit the ice cream bar, a place where soft ice cream is available on a serve-yourself basis. There are small bowls there, and I pick one. I get the swirl of vanilla and chocolate. Then I move to the condiment station and squirt on the chocolate sauce, topping it all off, remembering fondly how my grandfather loved ice cream, that he always great quantities of it in his freezer and always had a can of Hershey's chocolate sauce in his refrigerator to top off his big bowls of ice cream. (I didn't call to mind how he smoked, always ate what he wanted, rarely exercised or walked anywhere, and died at age 70 as he was getting ready to come to my law school graduation. [He had been an athlete in high school, a baseball player.] He never looked overweight to me, but there you are.)

I didn't feel well as we left the restaurant. I have been fighting some sort of sinus issue this week, and I know that didn't help. But I know all that food didn't help. Ugh. How could I have done that?

And the idea that Sweet Tomatoes is a "free-zone" is hilarious self-deception. Fully half the people there are 'way overweight. And it was Saturday night. That should have been a clue. (What was I thinking? That these people pick up a pizza on the way home?)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thank you, Melissa!



We're still using the blanket you made!

WikiHow

Heard of this Wiki? Here's an article about how to convert an analog "song" or "talk" from, say, a tape or record to a digital file, using an Apple computer.

Water or Coke?

Uh, water?

Binkies, God's Gift to Parents of Certain Children

Carol and I often listen to audio books when we drive on vacation. (Can you imagine that she might not just want to listen to me talk hour after hour? But, really, it's true.) We went to the library to see what we could find for our recent trip to Montreat NC. We checked out a number of books, both regular and audio, among them an audio version of Anne Tyler's "Digging to America".

Carol made this selection, and I wasn't paying a lot of attention. I had in mind that the author in question was the mystery writer, Ann Perry. Wrong. This was Anne Tyler, whose fiction is about RELATIONSHIPS! (Boooorrrrring.) I didn't realize my mistake until we were about 12 seconds into the audio book on our trip. (Maybe it was 5 seconds, I really don't remember.)

Well, it was quite a long book, and I have to concede that it was sort of interesting. It's about two Baltmore couples and their extended families who first meet each other in the late 1990s in the gate area of the Baltimore international airport as they are awaiting the arrival of an airplane from Korea. Coincidentally, among the passengers on that airplane are two little girl babies, one that is being adopted by each family. The babies are being delivered by representatives of different Korean adoption agencies. One of the couples is sort of typical American, noisy with a lot of friends and other family members in the waiting area with them with cameras, party hats, signs, and video cameras. The other couple is Iranian-American, quiet with only the mother of the husband with them. When the babies are brought off the plane, the two families realize that they have something very special in common with one another and a friendship commences, the growth of which over the next three thousand, four-hundred audio-book hours (or 1600 miles, whichever comes first) is the "backbone" of the "plot" of the book.

Anyway, deep, deep, deep into the book, one of the families adopts a second little girl, this one from China. This little girl becomes a total Binkie freak. It is obvious that the author has had some very significant, probably traumatic personal experience with this sort of little person. The house becomes filled with this little tyrant's, excuse me I mean strong-willed child's, binkies. (Could such a personality type possibly be associated with Binkie madness? I'm sure not. It's probably just fiction.)

At some point in the narrative, the mother decides the Binkies have to go, and a sort of war of wills commences between her and the little girl. The mother decides that she will have a good-bye Binkie party, during which she will have all her friends over. She promises her tiny daughter a wonderful present to commemerate the day that the Binkies will go. In preparation for the party, the mother prepares helium balloons and ties a Binkie to each balloon by means of a string dangling from it. The highlight of the party will be when each person attending will get a balloon and go outside with it and, at the count of three, release his or her balloon into the atmosphere. The Binkie strategy doesn't quite work out, and it is funny, I have to admit.

As Carol and I discussed Binkies, as a result of Kellsey's post about Honor, she said that with one of our children, who will go unnamed in this public place, the Binkie saved her sanity. I wouldn't go that far, given what I know of her sanity at this point, but it probably prevented infanticide.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Where the Boys Are



(Austin's looking good here. Miami not so good.)

Disturbing Numbers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

See this article on obesity rates in the US.

The obesity rate in the United States has increased at an alarming rate over the past three decades. We set out to estimate the average annual increase in prevalence as well as the variation between population groups to predict the future situation regarding obesity and overweight among U.S. adults and children,” said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of International Health. “Obesity is a public health crisis. If the rate of obesity and overweight continues at this pace, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sitting up




Can she do it, folks? Can she master the intense and focused control of her core muscles necessary to get herself from being parallel with the floor to sitting up?

let's follow the photo journaling of this epic attempt at a new milestone:

















And she does it! (and the crowds go wild!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Macon's newest kettlebell...

The Blue Devils Arrive!

When I was a senior in high school, I ran into Charles Battle over Spring break. Battle's family were members of Central Baptist Church, and he was a year ahead of me and back home from "Chapel Hill" (I had no idea what "Chapel Hill" meant at the time, but I knew that I was supposed to know and that Charlie knew I didn't know.) Charles' parents had sent him off to McCallie instead of allowing him to suffer with the rest of us in public high school. From there he had gone to UNC. By the spring, I had been admitted to Duke, and his comment was something about my going to "the University of New Jersey".

When I was at Duke, the place really struggled with being a school on the make but buried in the South, and probably still struggles with it. During my senior year there, I applied to "Duke Law", as well as to other law schools. My LSATs were OK, but not outstanding. The dean at Duke said he would admit me, but he wanted me to take the LSATs again so that their first year LSAT average might be a little higher. After four years as an undergrad at Duke, I had had about enough of the "Harvard of the South" mierda, and I said good-bye and went to Chicago.

In yesterday's WSJ, there is an op-ed piece in which the JFK myth is pilloried. Toward the end of the piece, the writer presents the thesis that the Kennedy myth makers ruined the Democratic Party, steering it from the party of the little guy to the elites of New England and Hollywood.

But the criteria for president of the United States aren't the same as those set by the deans of admission at Harvard or Yale, Brown or Duke. The happy snobbery of feeling culturally superior and morally virtuous that is at the heart of the Kennedy myth shouldn't be what politics is about. [Bold mine]

University of New Jersey indeed. Eat your heart out, Charlie Battle.

"The Culture Gap" by Brink Lindsey

A good essay about the economic cost of behaving badly and the premium for behaving well.

Football. Football. Alas.

I asked Tom Curtis at church a couple of Sundays ago whether he could do anything about speeding up the beginning of football season. He sighed and confessed that he had spent the previous afternoon watching some sort of golf game on TV that had elements of poker larded into it, he was that desperate for sports. We asked each other whether he had the slightest interest in hockey, and of course neither of us does. And as for baseball? Please.

Which takes me momentarily to a review that appeared in the WSJ Saturday of a non-fiction book entitled The Real All Americans by Sally Jenkins. It is the story of the "the momentous college-football game in 1921 between [Glenn "Pop"] Warner's renowned Carlisle Indian School squad and a vaunted Army team."

Jenkins quotes "the best locker room speech ever . . . to be":

Your fathers and your grandfathers are the ones who fought their fathers. These men playing against you today are soldiers. They are the Long Knives. You are Indians. Tonight, we will know if you are warriors.

Carlisle beat Army 27-6. It helped that Jim Thorpe was in Carlisle's backfield.

As football continues its inexorable migration from free to pay tv, every new season sees me weaken in my resolve to stay with the rabbit ears. The gods have taken away Monday Night Football, and the autumn weeks have dimmed. MNF once redeemed Mondays. Now MNF is no longer a matter of grace, but a matter of money. American Civilization is clearly on the downslope.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I think I heard the word "awesome" in Japanese

My birthday is July 16. Plus, it's too late for Carol's birthday, which was yesterday, but I have my eye on this for her next time.

"Thank God you live in America!"

Alas, Spain.

Saving the Banana

We love bananas at our house. They are so cheap, so filling, and so healthy, we buy several hands a week. Among other things, we eat them like Popsicles after we have peeled them, cut them into two pieces, and frozen them.

I read this article indicating that bananas are at risk, and that a scientist in Uganda is doing something about it. (More on the banana blight here.)

Calorie Reduction Can Be Very Difficult

Having been involved with Weight Watchers for many years, I have had the opportunity to see how people struggle with their weight, especially women, the gender that comprises the very large majority of WW persons. It is harder for women to lose weight and then maintain their weight at a healthy level; in fact it seems to be much harder. Generally speaking, it is very, very difficult to deal with weight matters and physical fitness in our stressful, sugar coated culture. (On the other hand, I have seen some remarkable successes, especially among women.)

My motivator was the cancer. That really got my attention, and Carol's. I thought I was going to die, and half the people in my support group did die within five years of their diagnosis. I was in my mid-forties at the time. My oncologist thought that if I were lucky, I would live until about 60 if I got beyond the first five years. Diet was one thing I thought I might be able to control, and so I started down that road. I don't mean to sound smug when I write about health topics and weight loss. It just seems so vital to me.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

How do he do that?

That. And this.

Parkour

My friend Kurt turned me on to Crossfit. Kurt's a Captain in the Army, on his way to med school, and tends to run marathons on a whim - as in he makes the decision 6-12 hours before race time.

So I've been showing him my kettlebell propaganda, and he's seen my kettlebell ante and raised the stakes.

I'm still a bit overwhelmed by the splendor of the site, and I'm going to subscribe to the journal, but this article was too cool to leave unposted.

Stupiddog

You have to see this one.

Toward a Theology of the Self

I think orthodox American Christianity lacks a theology of the body or, to put it in a way that does not necessarily separate body from mind/spirit, a theology of the self. Maybe not "lacks" a theology: it does have a theology, but it is not well articulated; it is inconsistent, maybe incoherent; and it may be wrong in large part.

I have thought on and off about this for many years (which, I readily concede, hardly makes me an expert), but what most recently generated some reflection on the issue was seeing so many over-weight people at the Christian Life Conference. (I know. Everyone is groaning. This again.) But I think the over-weight people I saw simply do not connect what they do with their bodies with their calling to be salt and light. I think there is a sort of Gnosticism at work here, a dualism that leads us away from thinking about how we affect our neighbors by how treat our bodies, in this case how we eat.

If every Christian would reduce his calorie intake so that his weight would fall within the mid-range of the charts and if the food that he ate would be nourishing and empty of empty-calories, the demand for medical services would fall, the price of those services would go down, and poor people would be better able to afford those services. Chronic diseases among elderly Christians would fall, reducing the demand on care-givers, nursing homes, and the like, thus reducing the costs of those services, and making them more accessible to the poor. The junk food industry would stop growing and alcohol consumption would go down.

But I hear nothing, nothing about that. I just hear the body mentioned in two contexts: sex and the Lord's Supper (how's that for a combination?).

Sex seems to be the most important thing about the body that Christians talk about. And we talk about it so competently that our divorce rate approaches that of the general population, and we allow the same-sex relationship issue to define whether we are "really" Christians.

As to the Lord's Supper, I come from a tradition where it has been completely and utterly spiritualized. "This is [really not] my body, broken for you."

The Presbyterians, where I presently have a home, are not quite sure about the Lord's Supper. It is a sacrament, not an "ordinance", to be sure. We think something happens. It's not simply a metaphor, as the Baptists seem to believe. But I'm not quite sure that the Reformers completely worked it out. (I could be wrong on this, and I apologize to those in the Reformed Tradition if I am.)

Here is what happens at our church. We "celebrate" the Lord's supper at a worship service once a month. We have little wafers for the bread/body of Christ. We have grape juice for the wine/blood of Christ. (I don't understand the grape juice versus the wine, especially with wine so cheap and plentiful.) Then, after the service, we have a light lunch in the Fellowship Hall. Here's what I think about that: the real Lord's Supper occurs during the light lunch, where our bodies are being nourished along with our spirits through the wonderful fellowship. I would like for the pastor, as the light lunch fellowship begins, instead of saying the blessing, to pick up a sandwich and then a cup of lemonade and go through the litany. (And maybe the deacons would wait on people during the lunch.) Then we would sing a hymn when the lunch is over and go out.

Like a lot of things, the ancient Jews had the body thing right. There is a unity between mind and body. Adultery, being unkind to one's spouse by the use of one's body, is on the same list as having "no other gods before me". Resting on the Sabbath has the same amount of moral weight as does adultery. When the resurrection occurs, the resurrection will be a bodily one. We will have clothes in heaven. We will recognize each other. We will walk on streets. Finally, Christ was not simply God, he was God incarnate.

So eat your vegetables and stay away from the sweets. That would be a righteous thing to do.

UPDATE: American Christians are not entirely bereft of some leadership on this issue, although Mennonites may not qualify as exactly mainstream. And Pam Smith has been featured on Focus on the Family.

Nowhere to Run to, Nowhere to Hide

Indoor air not so good.

Africa, the Americans have Landed

Interesting article in July's Esquire Magazine by Thomas P.M. Barnett about US forces in Africa.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Montreat Books

Carol and I attended the Christian Life Conference from June 31 through July 3 at Montreat College, which is east of Ashville about 25 miles. John and Nancy Ortberg were the keynote speakers at the plenary sessions, and they were fabulous. In addition to plenary sessions, the conference offers seminars on various topics. During the conference, book titles dropped like leaves from a hardwood in autumn. Here are the ones I managed to rake up:

These were mentioned by Rob Weingartner, the Executive Director of The Outreach Foundation, during his seminar entitled "What is the Presbyterian Global Fellowship?" (See Rob speak of the Outreach Foundation on a short video here. The Presbyterian Global Fellowship page is here. Walter and Morgan are planning on going to the annual conference to be held in Houston August 16-18 of this year. Carol, Mary and I are thinking of attending as well. We wouldn't want to miss spending part of August in Houston anyway.)

Jenkins, The New Christendom: the Coming of Global Christianity and The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South.

Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.

Escobar, Sowing the Word: The Cultural Impact of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1804-2004.(Book review): An article from: Church History [HTML] (Digital)

Snyder, Liberating the Church.

Hirsch, Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church

Pat MacPherson cited the following during his seminar entitled "Igniting the Men in Your Church":

Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man.

Morley, No Man Left Behind.

Nancy Ortberg mentioned these two books:

Everetts, Jesus with Dirty Feet

Lamotte, Travelling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Weight Charts

Following up on my comment to Scott's comment to the preceding post, here is a webpage with weight charts. Another chart is here on the Weight Watcher's website.

I am a medium framed male, about 5' 9", and for a few more days I'll be 60 years of age. My range on the chart to which I first link is 148-160. On the WW chart it is 135 to 169. (Today at the Weight Watchers meeting I weighed in at 159, seeking 155 as my target weight.) Those are pretty broad ranges. I am sure that in an individual case one would want to move carefully as he or she approached the limits. But they are instructive.