Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Joy And Misery

"The higher we soar the smaller we seem to those that cannot fly."
-- Nietzsche

I wrote in a previous post that escaping boredom permanently required tremendous amounts of pain and sacrifice. Why, someone might ask, would I pay that cost to escape boredom?

It's because it's not painful and we don't see it as a sacrifice. Just a price.

It doesn't truly hurt when I squat 400 lbs. or when I spend my 5th hour writing. I have the strange sensation of burning in my thighs and soreness in my lower back and surely, I'll get light-headed when I write that much, but it doesn't hurt. It's not painful. It's just a bothersome sensation that happens to a weak body. All I need to do is become stronger so I can go further without being bothered by it. It's not a sacrifice anymore than it's a sacrifice when I purchase clothing or food. It's simply an exchange. My effort for my joy. Value for value.

I believe that my effort could procure many things. If it is procuring for me joy, then why should I begrudge it's payment? Hard work is the toll collected at the entrance to Atlantis, home of heroes.

My life finally has value because I have claimed its value. If all I did was see my life as a way to collect entertainment, sense perceptions, or endorphins, then I could not see the value in living. But when I acknowledged its value, then I began to live as if it held its own value. And that has made all the difference. Someone else's misery is my deepest joy.

On the other hand, could someone honestly describe 2 hours in front of a glowing box as "joy?" I cannot imagine that happening. More than that, I will do all that I can to keep such a thought far from my worldview.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Training Video

Always a sucker for a good training video.

I've decided to focus on training for the triathlon. No more screwing around trying to become the best home run hitter Flushing churches have ever seen. A straight line, a narrow way, that's all I ask for.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This is >>why you suck<< according to TC.

The most surprising thing was that they really couldn't find any "naturals." Nor could they find any grinders, people who just worked harder than everybody else but just didn't have the talent to become elite.

The thing that distinguished one from another was simply hard work, nothing else.

But the weird thing is that 10,000 hours — roughly the amount of practice a truly committed devotee could accrue over 10 year — keeps popping up in different fields. Whether you're a writer, a concert pianist, a basketball player, computer programmer, or chess master, true greatness seems to pivot on that magic number.

And later on,

There it was again, hours of practice accrued equates to success. Nothing magical. The more psychologists in Gladwell's book looked at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.

And finally,

One can't help but wonder how many Gretzkys, A-Rods, or Ronaldos got left behind because of the calendar. One wonders how many Einsteins, Steve Jobses, or Bill Gateses got lumped in with the "less mature" students because they had the bad luck to be Sagittarius instead of Aquarius.

Gladwell encapsulates the problem thusly:

"Because we so profoundly, personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung. We make rules that frustrate achievement. We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those that succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail."

The answer might be that often, your perceived failures might not be so much genetic as they are sociological, might not be so physiological as the are psychological, and armed with that knowledge, maybe you're not necessarily destined to be the loser society thought you were.

How long would it take me to make my 10,000?

1 year = 27 hours a day of practice, a mathematical impossibility

3 years = 9 hours a day of practice, possible under unlikely circumstances

6 years = 4.5 hours a day of practice, now entering the outer limits of possibility

9 years = 3 hours a day of practice, frankly this is do-able

Mind you, this is every day. This is after 8 hours of work, I would come home and push relentlessly at bettering myself in a skill for 3 hours. It wouldn't be wise to say something absurd like "sleep less" because sleep is where all that training solidifies and grows. Never demean rest.

There should be micro-rest, like sleep, and then macro-rest, where for a week or so, the volume and intensity is severely cut back so that the body and mind can recuperate and adjust. That doesn't count towards the 10,000, which means I would have to work a lot more than 3 hours a day or that it will take me more than 10 years. Keep in mind also that there exists a limit to how much a person can practice. How many piano players suffer from tendinitis? There's a reason a certain elbow condition is called a "tennis elbow." Overtraining is no myth. How will you make up for lost time? How will I make up for lost time.

At 25, I feel like life has left me behind like a broken down car on the side of the highway. It was the same feeling I got when during the Brooklyn Half-Marathon, my legs broke down and refused to carry me. Slow runners, fat runners, children runners were passing me.

"I was thinking, damn, these niggas that much better than me?" -- Kanye, Touch the Sky

But at the Brooklyn, I refused to allow my legs to refuse me. If I had to crawl on my hands and knees, if my immaterial spirit had to burst from its earthly coil and drag what amounts to the manifested equivalent of 3 buckets of water and minerals across the finish line, it would have.

3 hours a day is a tremendous price-tag. You know what you can't do if you're spending 3 hours a day practicing. You can't go to parties, play video games, fantasy sports or go out for drinks with some buddies from work. It means going home to a cold bed, waking up to a cold morning to eat cold cereal and training in the cold.

But think about what you're buying with 3 hours a day. It means never being bored. Think about that for a moment. A bored person. Who talks in such terms? A person who believes their life is a pain and a bother. Entertainment for that person exists to distract from the painfulness of living. If you pay the cost, your life will be fundamentally different from a person who is capable of being bored. They will not understand you and soon you will not understand them. Think about your average high school or college student and how much of a waste their life is. They are less than dogs and rodents. They are worms, the sponges that live on the bottom of the sea. They go through life absent-mindedly running into barely enough processed, machine waste to fuel their rotting, barely erect corpses while accumulating a vast horde of useless cultural trivia. I ask you, if you knew that there was a way to escape that kind of life, would you pay the cost?

Your thirst for entertainment and distraction is only a band-aid. Your life is miserable and worthless. I offer you a cure. Hard work, pain, sacrifice in the beneficent, magnificent sense and you will escape that life.

Hear me, Christians. Do not reduce my words to allegory. Accepting Christ is not the way to spin it. Look around at the vast stretch of Christendom and acknowledge the truth. There are just as many Christians who live worthless lives as there are non-Christians. Do not have it mistaken. I REJECT the claims that so many preachers have made in my youth: "Accept Christ and you will live a passionate life." And if they fail to live a passionate life, then they must not have accepted Christ. This is the dirty deceit of a fortune-teller.

The hand has written on the wall and it has written

1 0 , 0 0 0

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On Occasion Of A Celebration

Francisco's speech in AS is my favorite passage ever written on love. On occasion of Anna and James' wedding, I couldn't help but remember that love is a response to our highest values. And can be nothing else.

“Do you remember what I said about money and about the men who seek to reverse the law of cause and effect? The men who try to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind? Well, the man who despises himself tries to gain self- esteem from sexual adventures–which can’t be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man’s sense of his own value.”

“You’d better explain that.”

“Did it ever occur to you that it’s the same issue? The men who think that wealth comes from the material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think–for the same reason–that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of ones mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy on life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he’s taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment–just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!–an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience–or to fake–a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer — because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut. He does not seek to . . . what’s the matter?” he asked, seeing the look on Rearden’s face, a look of intensity much beyond mere interest in an abstract discussion.

“Go on,” said Rearden tensely.

“He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises–because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the morel code that damns him. Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives–and observe the mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds from the other. Love is our response to our highest values–and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws–and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying. He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure. Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex–nothing but shame.”

Rearden said slowly, looking off, not realizing that he was thinking aloud, “At least . . . I’ve never accepted that other tenet . . . I’ve never felt guilty about making money.”

Francisco missed the significance of the first two words; he smiled and said eagerly, “You do see that it’s the same issue? No, you’d never accept any part of their vicious creed. You wouldn’t be able to force it upon yourself. If you tried to damn sex as evil, you’d still find yourself, against your will, acting on the proper moral premise. You’d be attracted to the highest woman you met. You’d always want a heroine. You’d be incapable of self-contempt. You’d be unable to believe that existence is evil and that you’re a helpless creature caught in an impossible universe. You’re the man who’s spent his life shaping matter to the purpose of his mind. You’re the man who would know that just as an idea unexpressed in physical action is contemptible hypocrisy, so is platonic love–and just as physical action unguided by an idea is a fool’s self-fraud, so is sex when cut off from one’s code of values. Its’ the same issue, and you would know it. Your inviolate sense of self-esteem would know it. You would be incapable of desire for a woman you despised. Only the man who extols the purity of a love devoid of desire, is capable of the depravity of a desire devoid of love. But observe that most people are creatures cut in half who keep swinging desperately to one side or to the other. One kind of half is the man who despises money, factories, skyscrapers and his own body. He holds undefined emotions about non-conceivable subjects as the meaning of life and his claim of virtue. And he cries with despair, because he can feel nothing for the woman he respects, but finds himself in bondage to an irresistible passion for a slut from the gutter. He is the man whom people call an idealist. The other kind of half is the man whom people call practical, the man who despises principles, abstractions, art, philosophy and his own mind. He regards the acquisition of material objects as the only goal of existence– and he laughs at the need to consider their purpose or their source. He expects them to give him pleasure– and he wonders why the more he gets, the less he feels. He is the man who spends his time chasing women. Observe the triple fraud which he perpetrates upon himself. He will not acknowledge his need of self-esteem, since he scoffs at such a concept as moral values; yet he feels the profound self-contempt which comes from believing that he is a piece of meat. He will not acknowledge, but he knows that sex is the physical expression of a tribute to personal values. So he tries, by going through the motions of the effect, to acquire that which should have been the cause. He tries to gain a sense of his own value from the women who surrender to him– and he forgets that the women he picks have neither character nor judgment nor standard of value. he tells himself that all he’s after is physical pleasure– but observe that he tires of his woman in a week or a night, that he despises professional whores and that he loves to imagine he is seducing virtuous girls who make a great exception for his sake. It is the feeling of achievement that he seeks and never finds. What glory can there be in the conquest of a mindless body? Now that is your woman chaser. Does the description fit me?

“God, no!”

“Then you can judge, without asking my word for it, how much chasing of women I’ve done in my life.”

Monday, December 1, 2008


My favorite character always:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I know I posted it before but I just can't stop thinking about it:

The year after Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, TWELVE people did the same thing. TWELVE.

A feat that scientists had thought beyond the realm of human achievement, a feat whose attempt jeopardizes human life. The heart, these experts thought, would explode if anyone tried to break that record.

TWELVE people, the next year.

To date, the record has been lowered by 17 seconds, an enormous gulf in the world of professional athletes. That mark, once revered as the pinnacle of human achievement is now the standard for any Tom, Dick and Mikey who wants to run middle-distance. To go on further, that mark has been bested by a man in his 40's. It's been doubled-up by Daniel Komen of Kenya who ran 2 miles in under 8 minutes. No woman has done it yet. Someone will. And I'd like to buy her a drink in gratitude.


Bonhoeffer wrote about the hypocrisy that's possible with Catholic Sainthood in "The Cost of Discipleship." Sainthood, you see, allows rank and file Christians to believe that these people were a special breed; it creates a double-standard.

"Oh, I couldn't be like THAT."
"God just chooses SOME people to do great things."
"That's for a saint to do. I'm just a normal human being."

Screw. That.

I choose not to see the Augustines, Calvins, Luthers, Theresa's and who-have-you's as anything special. Roger Bannister was a man. Usain Bolt is a man. Michael Phelps is a man. Lance Armstrong, Neil Armstrong, Louie Armstrong, all just men. Stanley Lee is a man.

This is not to bring them down. By stating the facts of reality, I find that I've elevated myself up. I too, am a man. I breathe. I live. I can destroy my muscles like they did, and they will rebuild themselves just as theirs did. I can destroy my limiting beliefs like they did. And I will live within the framework of possibility, conquest and joy. Will I ever accomplish anything remotely comparable? Who knows? I don't even have a goal on that level yet. But that doesn't matter. I'll never stop pushing the envelope of my capacity. And I'll never stop being surprised at how much further this envelope goes.

To some, there may be such a heinous stench when a person raises himself up. I believe that we should never have considered ourselves so low. I hope that as I climb up, others might have a small spark of sentiment, a warming or thawing of spirit and realize that no... it's not impossible.

Impossible is nothing.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Within 10 years...

And this story HERE makes me think that my goals need to be set even higher. Thank you, David for having already gone where I want to go. I know I can go further. I certainly know I cannot aim at anything less.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I really wanted to, in what may be my last year in NY, see the Halloween parade in the West Village. But in retrospect, it's better that I didn't. I found something better, a challenge, a task beyond what I can handle right now: the 2009 NYC Triathlon.

Registration sold out in 22 minutes. I took 8 minutes to do it. Not much of a margin for error. I wonder at how much margin of error there exists in training. You see, I don't believe a person can accidentally finish a triathlon or a marathon. You don't wake up the morning of one of these challenges and luck your way into your goal.

It's exactly what draws me to these insane endurance challenges. No one lucks into them. It's highly unlikely but a person can be said to luck into winning a 100m race or throwing a shot put. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No. There the unseen power of the central-nervous-system coordinates a vast array of neurons and muscles to act in a fraction of a second. The training is demanding and the athletes are amazing. By no means am I belittling the great achievements that they've done.

But those goals belong to them. My pursuit has another target. No one can luck themselves into a marathon or triathlon. I would say it's impossible to be genetically made for one. No, these require training, constant, relentless pushing and perfecting of the human body to prepare itself for this test.

How long does an athlete run to finish a marathon? 26.2 miles? Absurd. An athlete has logged hundreds of miles for the purpose of finishing 26.2 miles. How many weeks of two-a-days will I have to put in to finish this triathlon? How much research will I have to do on my own time? How much dedication and heart will it take to push myself forward in spite of pain? How much can a man and his body endure?

More than we think possible.

I am certain that any athlete who loves himself and loves his sport knows what I am talking about. The true love is a love for self and for capability.

If someone could wave a magic wand and make me triathlon ready tomorrow morning, I would undoubtedly fall into a deep depression and listlessness. I've been working hard so that I can see my 6-pack for the first time in my life. Right now, I have a rough outline of 4 of them. If someone could use sorcery and make the body-fat vanish, I would be really disappointed.

The point was the difficulty, in the struggle and the overcoming.

I remember reading a devotional very early on in my Christian life that spoke on the beautiful deaths of

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Goal: 4 Deserts in 5 years.

"To build a city at the bottom of the sea... insanity. But where else could we be free from the clutching hands of the parasites? ... It was not impossible to build Rapture at the bottom of the sea. It was impossible to build it anywhere else." -- Andrew Ryan

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Further Thoughts On Attraction

After speaking with Shanella for the past few days on the nature of attraction, I've come to realize something.

As humans, by and large, and by that I mean that this is a generalization about the population and that there are expected to be numerous deviations and exceptions, but by and large we are only attracted to what our egos allow for us.

We cannot be attracted by someone of too low a status. They would drag us down and dim our candle. Yet, they cannot be of a higher status for we would be outshone. No, they must be of a slightly lower status as much as possible for then we would have the perfect accessory.

There are a number of errors here in this line of thinking:
1- It's reductive. People are reduced to accessories of ego.
2- It stems from low self-esteem and a fragile psyche. The mark of a second-rater is someone who resents the accomplishments of others for fear that it would demean their own. People who have truly accomplished something by their own ability don't worry about the accomplishments of others. In fact, the achiever is often very lonely. How few people understand that capable people yearn for the companionship of other capable persons.
3- It assumes people are static elements never growing, incapable of regressing. What happens when a person grows old, the firm, soft skin sags and grows coarse? Abandonment? Or what happens if the inferior partner suddenly finds enough self-esteem to rise beyond?

Decisions made with this kind of ego are doomed to endless strife and probably failure. I'm not sure if I can come up with 10 pairings that I know where this is not the case. I can likely think of 6-8, but I doubt if I can think of 10.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Kindest Cut

"People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially acceptable excuses for failure. Being a victim gives you a claim on the sympathy of others, and it means you're not responsible for what happens, and therefore escapes responsibility for your own failure. " -- 13 fatal errors managers make and how to avoid them

I remember years back a friend had told me that given the weight that I lost I was extremely good looking. She said that I should stop right there because at that point, I was perfect. That was 40 lbs. ago. A big reason why I was able to lose these last two bags of rice was that her comment meant nothing to me. She was a good friend, yes. It was ostensibly a compliment, yes. But I did not believe her. I look in the mirror and I see areas for improvement.

I suppose I was rather lucky. Back then, her comment meant nothing because I couldn't understand it. Now, I see differently. My current level of fitness carries with it a good amount of social currency. It opens doors, generates smiles and can get me a good way. A lot of my friends have no idea that I want to lose about 20 more lbs. Many women have recently remarked how "handsome," "strapping," and "gallant" I looked lately. To my shame, these comments are starting to get to me. Why shame? It is shameful because I am letting them slow down my progress. I have missed 3 workouts in the past 2 weeks. I've abbreviated God knows how many more of them. The weight is still dropping, but how long can that be sustained with a overdrawn diet? I've had 2 beers in the last 2 weeks.

Reader, do you understand what I'm saying? I've done this in the past. I bemoan my current failures because they are what many people would consider extraordinary success. What does it say when my shameful failure is something that you could not achieve at your best? I've done that in the past, but this is not what I am here to do. I am not here to inflate my ego.

This blog is for me. It's for my progress and growth in life. It's a record and testament to the world of who I am... no, not who I am; who I am going to be. I am going to be someone who is unaffected by compliments. I will not allow them to increase my self-esteem or influence my worldview. I must insulate my soul against the happiness that they bring.


Because they will slow me down.

How can I continue to push myself if I think I've already made it? What kind of runner keeps running at full bore past the finish line? How can I push the envelope when I believe I've already burst through it?

In the beginning, the difficulty lay in insulating my soul from the pain that the nay-sayers gave me. You can't do it. You're nobody. Diets never work. You're not seriously thinking of losing 100 lbs. Actually, I didn't have a plan for how many pounds I would lose. I just kept going because no one was strong enough to stop me. Now the difficulty lies in insulating my soul from pleasure that my friends want to give me. Stanley, you look so strapping. That suit fits you wonderfully! What got me here, will not get me there. I cannot allow the word "enough" to enter my vocabulary. I cannot allow myself to feel contentment. I can give myself a few moments to breathe before I get back to the grind, but never more than a few.

There is the poison of a scorpion whose mythology says that should the victim ever stop moving, that victim will die. We've all been stung. Contentment, pleasure, retirement is the poison. Keep your ass moving.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


New workout: "Burn in Hell"

40x5 kneeling ab-wheel roll-outs


20 extended arm push-ups
20 crunches
20 bicycle crunches
for 5 rounds, 30 seconds rest between rounds


100 turkish get-ups

finish with

66 second plank hold

Total: 600 reps, 66 second plank

I have a couple of special workouts designed for nights like these. Internalize the pain, don't dull it. Don't do what others do, drinking away their pain, trying their best to forget. No, be awake. Feel it. Intensify it. Do what you can to make it hurt more. Use the special playlist you've saved for this occasion. Let the pressure build.

"Self-improvement is masturbation. Self-destruction on the other hand..." - Tyler Durden

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The parasite sees the product and divorces it from the means of production. It is not the inventor nor the work that brings forth a light bulb, a computer or a space ship, it is merely metal and minerals come together by chance.

The parasite sees a rich man in fine clothes driving around town in a foreign car with a beautiful woman. How rare it is to think that it was that man's mind which secured that life! No, the first inclination was that it was inherited, a gift, the next, that it was achieved through unscrupulous means, and the last begrudging one, he was just luckier than me.

Are there any who have seen past this illusion? Who? The truest, most honest of women, the gold-digger. She dispenses with the deception that other women foist upon the world. Her purpose is naked before the world: she is nature's way of dispensing righteous justice upon one-dimensional men. She divorces the man's wealth from the man who is incapable of controlling his emotions to defend it.

One must not only be smart enough to win his life. One need also use his mind to defend it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ghosts and Corpses

The religionists would have us believe that we are nothing but ghosts, spirits trapped in a delusion of physicality.

Their mechanism-worshipping counterparts would have you believe that we are nothing but corpses waiting to fall, bodies moving by nothing more than conditioning and instinct.

I believe I am neither. I am more. I am a man.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Reformation of Choice

"Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice: he has to learn to sustain it—by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice." -- excerpted from John Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged

A Christian must be a Christian by choice. I have only now realized this fact. Be careful in reading these words and thinking that you know what I'm writing.

A Christian does not become a Christian by choice. It is not his decision making that produces conversion, a change in acknowledged beliefs and allegiances, it is merely one of the first signs of it. But a Christian must be a Christian by choice. It cannot be sustained by habit. Neither can it be sustained by fear of hell, of social shunning, of parental disapproval, of God knows what.

A Christian must be a Christian because he values his existence as a Christian, as someone who holds his allegiance to the God described in his Scriptures, as someone who understands and chooses to obey, as someone who understands what set of values he is acquiring.

I didn't understand this before now. As far back as I can remember, people have always called me "smart," "precocious," "intelligent," and a million other empty flattering phrases. But I never felt that they were accurate. It was a self-esteem issue, yes, but I believe there was more. It was an issue of the conscious ownership of my own mind.

Only in the last 2 years have I begun reclaiming my mind from the world. Before then I was only a curator of facts to which anyone with any illusion of competence or confidence could deposit their thoughts. But reader, do you know what you call a system with no standards? It is a sewer. And we should greet a sewer-like mind with the same convulsed face of disgust that we use for an open manhole cover. My mind was such a thing.

But now, I have acquired a powerful talisman to ward off the world and to protect value, the word 'No.' No, I think that is a stupid idea. No, I do not understand what you are saying. No, I will not for the sake of being polite, acquiesce to your irrational claims.

And most importantly: No, I will not keep quiet on questions I've long held to myself. I've shuttled all my concerns and worries to the basement of my mind. No one else would understand. No one else even thinks in the same categories that I do! I have to protect them from my own thoughts!

What was I wishing for? What was I waiting for? Was I hoping that someone more intelligent than me, someone whose reason was trustworthy could come along, wave their magic wand and banish these thoughts from my mind? What an infinitely depraved desire! It's the equivalent of wishing to win a mental-spiritual lottery! If I have incurred these debts with my extravagant thinking then why should I expect any way to pay them off except through my effort and my exercise of rationality? I despise compulsive lottery-players and gamblers as one of the lowest forms of existence. I have damned myself by my own values.

No gallant knight is going to gallop in on a white horse to save my mind. But that's OK. I am no damsel in distress.

This is MY mind. This is MY life. I must choose. What will my values be? What life will those values produce? I can hear the cries of some of my friends already.

"But man is so limited! He can only reason so much! God is bigger than man! You can't put God in a box! Stanley, you just have to stop thinking and believe!"

Then what is my alternative? It is my reason or it is the judgment of another, and how do I know what that person may have in his mind? I know what I have in my own.

There is a good reason I stopped listening to Christian music by and large. I will not go wherever someone tells me. I will not do whatever someone tells me. I will not speak another person's words in place of my own. I began, instinctively at first, consciously later, to realize that so much of what I saw in Christianity was a negation of identity. Not me, but God.

This is the exact disaster of thought that I escaped from in Buddhism. My ideological reason for leaving Buddhism was the fact that I wanted to live and exist, as Stanley, not as Brahman. As Atman approached Brahman, I would wake up from the illusion and realize that we were never separate entities at all. I began to sense a similar strain in Christianity, that my existence was evil and that it should be exterminated by God's grandeur.

The sloppy reader will think that I have thrown in the towel. I have not. Absence of proof is not proof of an absence. I do not have the answers, but what I do have is questions. These, I think, are worthwhile questions. They need to be answered.

What kind of integrity would I have if I did not endeavor to answer them. What kind of integrity would I have if I threw away God's gift of rationality and thought and instead plugged my ears and screamed "SATAN YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GET ME I BELIEVE IN GOD NYAHNYAHNYAH." If that is what it takes to continue in faith, I will not continue in faith. If what it takes to continue in faith is a moving set of songs in a dimly lit church, a preacher's fervent pleas to the congregation to come back to the Father who loves so much as the Spirit moves through the piano subtly playing in the background (it's hilarious how when this is done at church, it is the movement of the Spirit, the very Hand of God, and when it's done on a TV show, it's only emotional manipulation)... if that is what I need to continue in faith, then I will drop everything and not continue.

I value my mind. This is the battleground. I must choose. I must value. I.

My existence is an inarguable premise and I will not surrender it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Roots and Seeds

Why is it that the love of money is the root of all evil?

Monday, October 6, 2008


"Many experts thought it impossible for a man to run a mile in under four minutes. Many even thought it would cause instant death from over-exertion. Then, of course Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes. In the next year, TWELVE more people broke the four-minute barrier." -- DD

Forget what you know.
Believe what you'll see.

"And to all the people who tell me I'll never make it, keep on talking. It only gives me more motivation." -- Dallas Robinson

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A = A

"To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, , the man who was - no matter what his errors - the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification."

This is the answer to all the years of soul-searching and asking "Who am I?" The answer is "I am the person asking that question." In quite a different way, I am who I am. I can be nothing else. Maybe I'll write a blog on the tetragrammaton one day and how it links to that specific part of the John Galt speech. It's fecundity intrigues me. But not enough and not today. Today I want to talk about me because I've come to realize my identity.

Or rather, I've realized it awhile ago but the thought needs to sublimate and become words.

A is A.

Stanley is Stanley.

Who I am is who I am. Who I will be is not necessarily who I am. Who I was is not necessarily who I am. Who I was is not necessarily who I will be. I exist, but only in the present. The past exists only in memory, the future does not exist until it comes to be. I exist, now and only ever now.

The linguistic turn "I existed." is a contradiction. Existence is only ever in the present. The past is not who I am. It's who I was. It is contributory not determinative. I exist and I choose to exist. I choose how I exist. I create the future.

And we all do. But how many people, how few people realize this truth. How many people see their lives as nothing but machinery set on course and forgotten. How many people are truly nothing more than animals trying to scratch various itches of food, sex, sleep, shelter? But that is not for me? I was not born to scratch itches. I was born with a mind and a mind that chooses.

But what are my choices?

"Saul, Saul! Why must you kick against the prick?"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Moose X-ing

Thanks for making this season watchable every 5 days, Moose.
Thanks for all the great pitching duels you had with Pedro back in the day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Name Of The Best Within Us...

And there it is, Atlas Shrugged is crossed off my list.

A lot of people have seen me reading it on the train, at work, at school. I talk about the book pretty often to those I think that will listen. I think I'm one of 2, possibly 3, people that enjoyed it.

"It's too long! I skipped all the big speeches."
"It's too dense! I don't care about the philosophy. I just want to see what happens next."

But for me, reading it was nothing short of joyous. It was a celebration of values and of goodness, of what is best in a person: integrity.

In fact, that's probably the reason why I've been toying with the idea of turning my back on Christianity as I've been reading it. I don't expect this to cause a big stir. That's primarily because only 2 or 3 people seem to read this anymore. That's fine.

Notice that I didn't say I would stop believing in God. No, I think the preponderance of evidence is too heavy to be dismissed outright at this point. It's that I am thinking about knowingly turning my back. There are several reasons for this and I'll be happy to speak with anyone at just about any convenient time about them. I only have one rule in any conversation: you must never ask me to shut off my mind at any time.

If someone says to me: "You can't know everything, Stanley. Sometimes you just have to believe." I will never acknowledge that person's existence again. That person will have made themselves a non-entity in that world. I will immediately cease any communication and without anything as polite as a "Thank you" or "good-bye" I will end the conversation and leave.

There are many ways to ask me to shut off my mind:
"You just have to have faith."
"Some things are just unknowable."
"You have to let your heart lead you."
"How can you put God in a box?"
"Do you think you can understand God?"
"Logic can't give you every answer."

You see, I think many of those statements have factual value. If anyone says them in the context of a conversation to me, it will not be stated as fact but as a plea and a request. I do not believe I can understand God the way I can understand Newtonian gravity, calculus or a car. But why would someone say that to me unless they wanted me to give up trying to understand God? Or why would someone say that unless they believe my understanding of God is irrelevant? Those are not arguments to believe in God, they are arguments for pneumatic suicide.

And then there are ways to ask me to subjugate my rational faculty to another authority:
"What about all the people that depend on you, Stanley?"
"Don't you care about all the people you teach?"
"Why don't you stop being so selfish?"

If anyone lays one of those claims upon me, they will also become a non-entity in my life. Look, I know my education and intelligence intimidates a lot of people. I don't demand you talk to me. I think that prayer often works. Pray for me if you are scared to talk to me. And if you do talk to me, don't be afraid to say you don't know something. I don't know a lot of things. But I know when someone is twisting Scripture inappropriately to show me something that's not there, and I know when someone is clutching at straws to find some purchase. If you don't know, don't be afraid to say it. I won't think less of you for it.

I'm not at a point where I definitely want to leave behind all that I've invested. I've given about two-thirds of my life in service to God. I had dreams of giving God the rest of it. But there are some issues that demand resolution before I go forward. I will decide one way or the other whether I should.

This is the way things should be. The only way to go is forward. I would have truly died if I did not come to this point. Stagnation is death. Mediocrity is death. Think about all of life. What is it? Movement. Goals. Progress. What is truly still? The inanimate. The corpse. I am thinking about destroying everything that I've spent the past 10 years building but I think I'm in a better position than the church goer who never questions, never asks, never wonders, never grows in anything but the number of Christian songs learned and aphorisms memorized. In fact, looking back on my spiritual biography, I believe it was only the vitality of my walk that could bring me to this point. I only write because I care and I want to know.

But there are a lot of things that trouble me. For anyone that wishes to speak to me about this, the following, in no particular order, are the major issues:

  • Grace: If I cannot earn it, why should I be happy to have it. The idea of grace troubles me deeply. Why is it considered a good thing? It's like becoming part of the great herd of imbeciles who think that winning the lottery is a good thing. It destroys lives. If I cannot earn it, then I cannot earn it. I say this fully understanding that I am a sinner, that I have indeed sinned and that I deserve all the wrath that an omnipotent God can inflict on me.

  • Charity and duty: I remember as a child watching a commercial on TV for the Christian Children's Fund. I felt terrible that I had so much while others had so little. Now I ask the question, "Why?" Why should their need become guilt for my capacity? I do not blame them for their condition. And I acknowledge that they have very few options available to them to change it. I also acknowledge that they might benefit from my spare change and scraps. But why are they entitled to it? If they are not entitled to it, why should I feel guilt about witholding my support?

    I think specifically about my service in church and various fellowships as well. Why is it that the more I have to give, the more I am asked to give? This is the 20/80 rule. 20% of any given group will do 80% of it's work. I look at many groups I've been involved in. Why is it that people with less capability can live their lives in happy stupor while the capable and the skilled must live to serve them? If one is strong, must there be a yoke to tie him down? If the strong enjoys himself, is he not vile and wicked for not spending more time to give to the rest of us. And who is it that gives to him? Why he does not need so very much to survive on, does he? Take some more away from him. Everyone seems to be an excellent judge of how little he needs and how much he can give, but he is a poor judge himself!

    No, that's not exactly right. He may choose for himself. But should he ever choose his own pleasure, he is a wicked man for not sharing it with everyone else.

    The widow and her tithe. I do not understand this story. Are you telling me if a homeless man tithes $50, he is much loved for his generosity but if a millionaire gives $5,000,000 he is a loathsome robber-baron because he did not give $10m? What would be enough? $20m? Everything he had? Why is 'everything' demanded of the rich but not demanded of the poor?

  • Glory: What is glory? Why should God want it? Why should I give it?

  • Pride: Why should someone feel horrible at the fact of his own existence? What kind of anti-life is this?

  • Humility: Related to the above. If someone has a talent, they should never feel joy in it because that is boastful and wrong. When someone compliments me saying: "Stanley you're so smart!" why is it wrong for me to answer, "I know." Or "Stanley you're so strong!", "Stanley, you're such a good teacher!" People tell me that these are gifts from God. And I acknowledge that I have started off well ahead of many other people. But who was it that wakes up at 6:30 every morning to begin his work out. Who is it that works out twice a day, 6 days a week? Who is it that goes online and spends hours researching training methods? Who is it that takes the initiative to educate himself, to take classes, to do homework, to lose sleep and friends? I put in the work and... and I am evil for receiving the credit? What kind of depraved income tax is this?

    "For the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the cattle on a thousand hills are his..."

    To which I ask, then why bother living? Can a man not own the work of his hands?

  • Salvation: We, God's creation, are saved from God because God has sacrificed himself substitutionally, to pay the penalty that he decided for us, without our asking for it, so that we can return to God and live our lives as God's slaves? Did I get the story right?

  • Sacrifice: The more it hurts, the more it's worth. What? Is our suffering a sign of our goodness?

I think that's enough to begin. It's not the total sum and substance. There's more, but those are the big ones. Like I said previously, God's existence isn't something I truly doubt. It's something that I may end up forgetting. These roadblocks have been years in the making and reading Rand has convicted me of how disingenous it was to continue forward while still holding these many doubts, and in fact these kinds of doubts in my heart.

Truly, it's also a result of burnout. No one expects a marathoner to keep running without water or rest for very long. 4 hours? 6? 8? And then what? Death. Car engines, while much more capable, are the same way. How long can you leave an engine at the redline before the thing destroys itself. How long did you all expect to ride this horse? The horse says 'No. Get off my back.' What I am considering is a strike, a work stoppage.

But I can endure these questions a little longer. I don't know how long. I'm still asking them myself. I haven't changed much. The only thing that's changed is that I now want to be a person of integrity. If I have a question, I will ask it. If something troubles me, I will not ignore it.

And really, there's nowhere to go but forward.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This Is John Galt Speaking...

I just got to the section of the book where he begins his speech.

How can a person live, really LIVE, without having read Rand? I feel like scales are falling from my eyes with every turn of the page.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yankee Stadium Memory: my first game

As tonight marks the end of an era, I'm going to write about the beginning of one in my life.

In my earlier years, I was a fat kid for two reasons. I didn't like exercise or sports and I really liked eating. The two put together was a terrible combination. So I'm not quite sure how it came to be that my friends had decided to take me to a game at Yankee Stadium in the fall of 2000. The Yankees were playing either the Indians or the Braves. I have a feeling it was the Braves, but it doesn't make sense for an interleague game to be so late in the year and I doubt that it was a playoff game.

Just like this year, the starting pitching stunk and put the team in an early hole. I noticed that crowds were booing and leaving the stadium. But what do you know, the 7th inning came around and the Yankee offense came alive and home run after home run left the park. Even with less than full capacity, the energy on a weekday night was nothing less than unbelievable. We eventually came back and won that game and the Yankees made themselves a fan for life.

So as I think back to all the great memories that Stadium has given me, I think the only appropriate honor is to carry an invincible optimism into the future that the new Stadium will produce many more amazing memories to cherish.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Iron Mike Mussina, Baddest Pitcher On The Yankees

Big Moose Love.
The only watchable part of this season is your chase for 20.
I hope you make it, Moose.

God Opposes The ...

An honest question for any reader:

What is pride? Specifically, what is the kind of pride that the Bible speaks about in such reprobate terms?

I am proud of myself. I am proud of the fact that I am proud.

What I mean by this is that when I consider who I am, my existence, I feel a tremendous sense of uplift and... joy. I love my life. I love the fact that I am alive. I am strong, smart, capable and after a little empirical testing, I look good. I am socially calibrated, economically secure, and internally strong. I am young and have a world of possibilities unfolding before me, like flowers before the sun of my capacity.

What should I feel in regards to this besides good?

I am happy that I have this set of circumstances with which to engage the world. Many of them are not of my own doing or action. I make no claim as such. Many have been handed to me. Others I have taken by force of will and action.

I have dignity. There are some things that I will not do. I will not beg, I will not chase, I will not ask anyone for mercy.

I often get the word "arrogant" attached to me. It's because people have this notion that I always think I'm right. That is true. When I speak or make any assertion, claim or statement, I have nothing but the utmost confidence in being correct and any contradictory statement being wrong. If I didn't believe in what I was saying, why would I have said it?

Is this the sort of opprobrium that Scripture condemns? Am I a sinner for living and believing this about myself and about how I should act?

These are honest and open, non-rhetorical questions.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

By Our Love

"Love is a response to our highest values and can be nothing else."

If so, then wouldn't it be madness for me to even think about any long-term relationships at this point? I have goals in my life. One of my goals is to never be at a place in my life where I have no higher goals for which to reach. My greatest fear in life is not death, loneliness, abandonment, any imagined torture but rather to stop living and yet continue to exist.

I look at the great herd of humanity and I am beyond disgusted. Christian, non-Christian, it doesn't matter. I look at the lives they live and find them contemptible, an insult to the gift that they've been given.

"Only I think that it's a sin to sit down and let your life go, without making a try for it."

They stumble and meander through life without any idea what they are doing or why they are doing. They never stop the ceaseless motion of life to consider whether they are actually moving towards anything. My greatest fear is to regress into one of 'those' people.

At this point, my goals are not so very high. I believe that at this point, I am too egalitarian, too generous, too free with what I will accept in other people. I do not demand enough, do not expect enough out of other people. And what can this mean but that I do not yet love myself sufficiently?

Some have told me that with wives and the important women of our lives, we must be gentle and kind. Perhaps, at some stage. But in the stage where I am at, the stage of selection, where I winnow out all my possibilities, it would be best to be brutally selective of what I desire in a woman.

And why shouldn't I be exceptionally picky? I know what I bring to the table. I demand equal value. My love is not pity or charity-based. It is not an act of goodwill. It is an act of supreme self-esteem, confidence and dare I say, the right kind of selfishness.

And so I can *afford* to be selective. What would I do in baseball if I knew that I could take as many strikes as I wanted without striking out? Why, I'd wait for my perfect pitch. I'd be the most patient hitter in the world. I'd wait for a pitch that I could put all my heart, all my guts, all my conviction and confidence in and drive that ball a country mile. Isn't that the same situation I face now? Why settle?

No, love is the response to our highest values. Everyday I feel it in my soul, an itch on the inside of my skull; my values grow daily. I am more today than I was yesterday. And I will be more tomorrow than today. Why end that now? Why make a decision based on my current value set?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Because it's Sunday night


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Sexual Choices, a corollary

The following phrases:

"You can't choose who you fall in love with."
"The heart wants what the heart wants."
"I just didn't feel anything for him/her."
"... just wasn't the one."
"... didn't make me happy."

are phrases that when said seriously, with full conviction in the verity of the words, to another person are the unquestionable hallmarks of a truly contemptible person.

I fully believe in what Rand said. Our sexual choice is the sum and substance of our highest values. Who are we? Well, the answer to that is found in who we look for, who we are willing to partner with.

Any view of love that excludes rationality from the picture, that makes it nothing more than a sentiment or an outflow and indwelling of emotion, that makes it nothing more than animal instinct draped in the ill-fitting clothes of civilization, is a deficient view of love, and only deficient people will have deficient views of love.

People who persist and will not change that belief absolutely deserve the misery of togetherness that is coming towards them. If you make your bed, you better be ready to lie in it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On Chasing Women, by Ayn Rand

"Do I strike you as a man with a miserable inferiority complex?"
"Good God, no!"
"Only that kind of man spends his life running after women."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you remember what I said about money and about the men who seek to reverse the law of cause and effect? The men who try to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind? Well, the man who despises himself tries to gain self-esteem from sexual adventures -- which can't be done, because sex is not the cause, but an effect and an expression of a man's sense of his own value."
"You'd better explain that"
"Did it ever occur to you that it's the same issue? The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think -- for the same reason -- that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one's mind, choice or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he's taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment -- just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! -- an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience -- or to fake -- a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer -- because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut. He does not seek to ... gain his value he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to a woman he despises -- because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from the moral code that damns him. Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives -- and observe the mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds from the other. Love is our response to our highest values -- and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him professthat love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws -- and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying. He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure. Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom, and sex -- nothing but shame."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One step closer

Not much more to go now.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Gather around and hear ye the parable of the man with a stick in his butt. (Tale reconstructed from memory. Not original work. Paraphrased from the HBI.)

In a time not too long ago, and in a place not too far away, there was a man without a spine. Because he had no spine, he could not stand as others did. As you may imagine, he was often stepped on and overlooked, much like a worm. People, when they found him, found him pleasant enough as a person for having no spine, he could take on any form or shape they wished. If his friends were smart, he could twist himself into the shape of smart. Or if they were trendy, he could twist himself into that shape too. But this man without a spine could not find love.

You see, when he found someone interesting he would try to wrap himself around them. What a suffocating situation! The women could not stand such clinginess. With much struggle and hardship, they pulled this man off and left him on the floor weeping and bemoaning his existence.

After having been thrown aside enough times, this man decided that he must have a spine for himself if he wanted to know what love was like. But no one was willing to give him their own spine! "If I gave you my spine, how would I stand up?" they cried. Oh, the poor, little spineless man! What would he do?

He did the only thing he could do. He shoved a stick up his butt. It was very painful. And it didn't look quite right. No one stands like that. And people with spines could bend sometimes. Not so, the spineless man now. He was rigid. Stiff. And people didn't like him as much anymore. Before, he could wrap himself around any idea or shape. Now, he would not bend to anyone's wishes. He was much lonelier now. And much colder now.

But no one stepped on him.

So as lonely and as cold as things were, this was an improvement. Having the imitation of a spine was much preferable to having nothing to hold him up.

No one stepped on this man anymore. Before others would walk all over him without even knowing about it. He realized that no one heard his cries for help. They simply thought, when they thought of him, that he was just another worm in the ground. "Plenty of worms!", they thought.

Yet the man with the stick up his butt still could not find love. He looked here and he looked there, but who could love such a rigid, unbending man? He was certainly more respected. And he certainly thought that this was better than before but he was still miserable.

So he lost hope. Perhaps God hates those who have no spines. "God, why did you make me like this?" cried the man. "God, am I doomed to be alone forever?" he asked an empty sky.

But one day, he found the greatest woman in the world. She was beautiful, yes, but you see, beauty is common. This man lived in New York City, where many women believe they are princesses and dress accordingly. He had seen beauty before. But this woman was also intelligent, kind-hearted, strong and not intimidated by any man. Being such an amazing woman, she could not tolerate most men who lost their spines in the presence of her capability and became placating, appeasing slimes like the man before.

Did God send this woman to torment the man? Is God's humor blacker than the Devil's? These thoughts raced through the man's mind. The man would not be mocked by anyone, not even God himself! "Not even God will laugh at me!" screamed the man in the vast expanse of his interior world.

"Would you like to have coffee with me?" asked the man to the woman.

Over a battlefield of combat-ready coffee cups, barbed-wire biscottis and heat-seeking scones the two launched salvos of opinions and ideas.

This woman had reduced many a man's spine to mush before. She wondered how this man could be so firm in his convictions and sincere in his passions. From where did all this prodigious resilience originate? Men had by this time, offered to buy drinks or expensive gifts for her. He had not bent an inch!

But the man too wondered at the woman. He could not understand how this woman could withstand the force of his personality. Other women were driven away by his rigidity. He had learned to love and care about himself. The women wanted someone to think of them and worship them only. But he grew wise and saw that such women were cannibals who consumed such men. This woman knew who she was and needed no worshippers, but his mind could not grasp such a thought.

And so he tried to bend again. Oh, it was very hard for you see the soul becomes quite stiff when it stays still. And it becomes quite formless when it continually moves. But he tried to bend again and suddenly, he did. What had happened to the stick?

The stick was the first thing that ever gave this man's body a true shape. It was not perfect, but it did the job. The body, you see, is a marvelous thing. It grows and it adapts. It took what the stick started and worked around it. Soon enough, the body grew its own spine, and the stick was no longer.

But it was just as strong as the stick. And the woman saw this. Finally, the man found love. He did not find it when he found the woman. The woman found it in him when he finally found his own strength.

You see children, a man without a spine cannot be loved. He can be liked quite easily enough. Everyone likes dogs. But who sees a dog as an equal and a partner in life? Who can trust a dog with their heart, soul, mind, children, dreams, expectations, hurts, fears, failures, tears? What can a dog do for a person besides stare up with dumb, uncomprehending eyes? To be liked is far different than to be loved.

Children, do you know who the man in the story is?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


For anyone visiting my blog lately, this blog is principally about 2 things:
#1 - my faith and life
#2 - the Yankees.

I have been, and for the forseeable future will not talk about the Yankees that much because they're not doing anything worthwhile. Currently, I hope they do nothing but lose for the remainder of the season so we can get better (and protected) draft picks for next year while we go hard at C.C., Sheets and Tex.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Shame and Sexuality, in a Christian context

I love breasts. I'm referring to the breasts of human women here.

I also love (in no particular order) their butts, legs, lips, hips, fingertips, skin, hair, eyes, scent, posture, poise, feet, hands, waist, neck, nose, ears, smile and... I'm not sure there's a particular body part I don't like.

Aw hell, what did I just say? Should I repent? I'm not going to do so. Did I cause a brother or sister to stumble? Well actually, I wrote this particularly for the brother or sister who would stumble at such a phrase.

You see, I have this very strange, this very queer theory in my head. I believe that there is not to be a hint of sexual immorality amongst Christians. But I see it everywhere!

I see it when men are to be somber and stifle their appreciation of how a woman keeps herself healthy and vital. I see it when women are forced to wear long skirts and told that pants are sinful. I see it when spaghetti string and tube tops are forbidden. I see it when a man is told to don his shirt on a sweltering day, while he's playing sport, because it... it... it is attractive to others? Because it is beautiful? Because women so rarely see a man who keeps himself in top athletic shape? Because men want to try and shield their ego? Oh he is that way because of genetics! Genetics! Any excuse besides hard work!

If a person attends to their physical appearance, there must be no other reason than a superficiality of taste! Truly spiritual persons enjoy the wasting away of their flesh!

Immoral idiocy, all of this. And the Christian church is filled with it.

Reformata Semper Reformandum, no?

I think there are 2 big things the Church can do to address its sexual immorality:
#1 - Stop sleeping around and being hypocrites.
#2 - Stop covering people up and being hypocrites.

Who made this body of mine? Was it Satan? Only if you are caught in the throes of a gnostic heresy. God made this body. He made it and gave it to me to steward. I am strong and fast. The testosterone flowing through my blood makes me content and joyous. It helps me recover faster. It makes me aggressive and passionate. It is a blessing from God Almighty. If I fill myself with cakes, cookies, cola, cheeseburgers, chips and cholesterol, I will spit on the vessel of God's image. If I train it vigorously, if I push it relentlessly, I can see God's beauty, live that beauty more deeply.

Christians, end the nonsense.
God gave you a body. Love it.

There's an easy strawman trap. Don't be dumb and fall into it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


From Gym Jones':

"Limitations and Impossibilities": At every Olympics there is an athlete whose
performance is so incredible that it transcends greatness. A performance so
magnificent that it shatters our notion of what we previously thought was
possible. In this Olympics there have been two athletes of note who have
challenged the very limits of human performance. Usain Bolt absolutely destroyed his competition in both the
100-meter and 200-meter dash. He set a world record in both events and was so
far ahead of his competition in each that he looked like he was running a
different race. In the 100-meter he ran a world record 9.69 but started
celebrating at the 70-meter mark. In the 200-meter he broke Michael Johnson’s 12
year old record that people said would stand for a lifetime. Bolt’s margin of
victory over his closest competitor was an astonishing .52 seconds in that
event. Michael Phelps is another story. He brought home 8 gold medals,
a new Olympic record for one games and now has a total of 14 Olympic Golds (16
medals in all). What is more unbelievable is that on his way to his gold medal
haul this year he set seven world records and one Olympic record, doing a
personal best time in every event. Serious Athletes plan every aspect of their
lives to ensure that they peak for that special event. To ensure that they are
at the pinnacle of their career when they compete on the world’s stage. Michael
Phelps had indeed peaked for this year’s Olympics and he did what no one thought
was possible. Not a Herculean performance but rather as one reporter stated, a
“Phelpsian” performance. People are already saying that we will never see
performances like these again in our lifetime. People are saying that we have
witnessed the “impossible”. If this years Olympics has taught us anything it is
that there are no limits to what the human animal can do. The only limits are
those which are self imposed. Limits that the human mind places on itself.


Monday, August 18, 2008

The Bucket List

Rule of life: Never apologize for being honest.

100 things I Want To Do Before I Die
001- Have amazing, unbelievable, cry out to God great sex.
002- raise a son and watch him start his own family
003- play catch with my son
004- tell my wife "I love you" on our 50th anniversary
005- watch the sunset over the Pacific
006- watch the sunrise over the Atlantic
007- trek in the Alaskan wilderness
008- climb Mt. Everest
009- see the Grand Canyon
010- have someone honestly compliment my dancing
011- spontaneously dance with a stranger on the street
012- make love by moonlight on the beach
013- vacation in Nice, France
014- swim in each of the 5 Oceans
015- have Argentinian barbeque in Argentina
016- lead someone to Christ
017- be a missionary for 2-3 years
018- have a family vacation where I have to drive for 8+ hours
019- raise a happy, healthy Rhodesian Ridgeback or Black lab
020- get 2 numbers in the same night
021- dunk a basketball on a regulation hoop
022- deadlift 3x bodyweight
023- finish an ultramarathon
024- skydive
025- bungy jump
026- swim in the Nile
027- qualify for the IronMan
028- fly an airplane
029- ride a motorcycle
030- write a novel
031- publish a book
032- speak (and think) nothing but Spanish for a week
033- write fluently in Chinese
034- lead someone to Christ in a foreign language
035- play and sing an entire song on the guitar
036- have another farm animal as a pet
037- take my family camping for a weekend
038- get a degree from a good seminary
039- juggle 3 objects for 1 minute
040- whistle a radio song
041- do street magic
042- drive 100 mph+
043- bake a cake
044- start a fire from scratch in the wild
045- teach my daughter how to throw a punch
046- win a fight that someone else started
047- become a kru in Muay Thai
048- become a sensei in karate
049- visit India
050- visit Antarctica
051- skinny dip in the Arctic Ocean
052- hike and camp in Yosemite with my family
053- hike and camp alone in Grand Teton
054- see wolves in the wild
055- fire a rifle
056- teach my kids their times tables
057- adopt a child
058- step on the field at Yankee Stadium
059- deliver a eulogy for someone I'm not related to
060- deliver a best man's speech
061- take care of my grandkids for a summer
062- grow bitter-melon in my garden
063- honestly enjoy the taste of bitter-melon
064- single-handedly make a Thanksgiving feast
065- have a race on horseback
066- visit Israel and touch the Wailing Wall
067- visit Milan and be complimented on my style
068- run a marathon on each continent
069- visit Charles in Brazil
070- see the Aurora Borealis
071- eat Rocky Mountain Oysters, scrapple, haggis and fugu
072- do the running of the bulls
073- do a walkabout
074- return to China alone for a month
075- fill up every box in my passport
076- share the Gospel in a foreign language
077- lead a bible study series in a foreign language
078- climb a 20' rope, 2" thickness
079- hit a bullseye in darts
080- get a tattoo
081- run a mile in under 5 minutes
082- see a fight in Lumpinee stadium
083- eat sashimi at the Tokyo Fish Market
084- do a handstand pushup
085- see a solar eclipse
086- read the entire Bible from cover to cover with my wife and kids
087- see the stars from outer space
088- hit the bell in the sledgehammer carnival game
089- visit an European vineyard and buy a bottle of wine
090- hike in Romania at night under a full moon
091- get a kiss from a girl who previously rejected me
092- stay under 200 lbs.
093- bench press 2x my bodyweight
094- see my 6 pack
095- jump rope
096- play a real song people would actually care to listen to on the piano
097- order flowers delivered to a girl "just because"
098- eat a steak at Peter Luger's
099- honestly say on my deathbed "I've run the race, I've fought the good fight. I never gave up."
100- love someone for who they are and not what they can do for me

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nietzsche in a new context

"It is by being 'natural' that one best recovers from one's 'unnaturalness,' from one's spirituality..."
-- Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

I hate Confucius. I hate that I am, by culture if not by choice, his descendant. I despise his teachings. I hope that he and the whole disaster of a culture he spawned would fall screaming into the pit of Hell.

Don said a few months ago that I was 'very Chinese.' Perhaps he thought it was a value-neutral remark, a throw-away statement. I however, took it as if he drew attention to a scar or missing limb on my body. It was an embarrassment.

More and more I realize that my Confucian tendencies are spiritual tumors to be cut out of my soul by any means necessary; veritable sicknesses in need of attention.

You see, Nietzsche criticized Christianity on the grounds that it was primarily a slave religion born out of worthless Jewish rabble straining under Pharaoh's yoke. As slaves, they could do nothing but make new slaves out of any proselyte. Upon turning to Christianity, the word 'freedom' was introduced, a spiritual freedom, which in reality was nothing but a more elaborately concealed yoke of slavery.

What would he have said about Confucianism? Such a deformed, depraved culture... but yet it has produced great things! Has it? Who produced the great wall? Emperors commanding thousands of obedient, dutiful, stupid and helpless peasants. Who produced the oldest continuous civilization? The powerful preying on Confucianally indoctrinated rabble. And who is hosting the Olympics this year, throwing the greatest international show ever displayed? A small group of powerful pulling on the string of national duty. Confucian slaves are perhaps more complete and useful than the slaves that Christianity produces.

Very Chinese? Yes, yes I am. And I hate it. And I will most certainly be rid of it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Riddle me this

Someone help me out here.

What does a slave, who has been nothing but a slave all his life, think when he hears the word 'freedom'? Can such a word have any meaning for him? Yet he knows he wants it. Why? What does a worm dream of when he dreams of flying?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008


This entry is inspired by two entries on Ross' blog, a rather recent one touching on steroids and the one that contains the above video.

Also coming to mind right now is the Maya Angelou poem. Might we indeed be greater than we can imagine? I dread living a certain type of life, a pedantic, sort of meaningless existence. I dread the possibility that come judgement day Christ the Prosecutor will call to the stand as his witness, a me that could have been.

"Stanley, what have you done with all that I've given you?"

And what would I say? How would I respond?
"Lord, it's not my fault. The work was too hard. You asked too much. I loved my entertainments too much. I was too afraid that if I tried and failed, then everyone would see!"

It is from this sort of coward soul that I have no doubt many would point to those who are truly great, the Pujols', A-Rod's and Armstrongs in the sporting world and say that they doped and juiced because there's no way anyone can be great without juicing. We can only be at best a Torii Hunter or Richie Sexson. If anyone becomes great they must certainly be cheaters.

And even in Christendom, it sickens me to no end that this same double standard exists. Pastors and missionaries who seem to make huge impacts in the world only do so because they've been called. It's not because they wake up at 5:30 and pray with tears for those that they serve. It's not because they have God on their mind every moment of every day that they can deliver such insight. It must certainly because they're a certain kind of special. Thus, said Bonhoeffer, was the hypocrisy of monasticism. They are holy men and that's what they do. We are not holy, so we don't have to try and live like them.

Of all the people I'm pointing this finger at, I belong at the forefront. Sometimes it's hard to keep pushing. There's a very real soul-weariness that comes with this kind of psycho-emotional expenditure. Giving from your heart means you have less for yourself. But that, I suppose, is what "drive" and "dedication," "commitment" mean.

"Only acts undertaken with commitment have any meaning." -- Mark Twight

Soul! What is it that you are so afraid of? Commit! Dare!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pursuit, revisited

I don't know what the other blogs I titled "Pursuit" mean. I'm too lazy to look it up. This might be a total non-sequitur. So be it.

The Yankees and Red Sox rivalry was perhaps, destined to have unfolded the way it did. Both had excellent teams in 2003 and the Yankees won the AL Championship Series in what was purely luck. In 2004, the Red Sox fielded an excellent team while the Yankees had degraded by the year's end quite a bit. Inexplicably though, they ran a 3-0 lead in that year's ALCS. However, it was primarily due to Torre's imbecilic management that the Yankees collapsed and handed the Red Sox a free trip to the World Series.

The Red Sox were going to get there one year or another. They had been continually improving their team while the Yankees were mired in expensive mediocrity and skippered by a senile manager. Terry Francona came in having something to prove. Torre was too busy drinking green tea and picking his nose to realize that the game had passed him by.

I heard the Rivalry used as an analogy to compare Rafael Nadal's recent upset. Let me just say this up front. I don't care about tennis. I'm surprised I didn't write out Rafael Federer or Bjorn Nadal something like that. I do know that the two have had a one-sided duel for what seems like years now. I know that Federer's the senior player here by a substantial tennis margin.

With my admittedly poor knowledge, it seems to me that Rafael was destined to win. To be so close of a #2 and to have the advantage of time, it was inevitable that he would win one of these days. That he did so in dramatic fashion is impressive and makes for a terrific story but he hasn't defied the odds. He proved them.

It's like the lottery. If you buy a ticket, the chance that you will win is incredibly small (even with "little bit o' luck" on your side). However the chance that someone out there will win is pretty significant.

Coming out of this painful segment of life I realize that the odds in this particular instance were heavily stacked against me. However, in the long view of life the opposite is true; I am favored to win. Even disregarding issues of sovereignty, providence and divine fiat, the simple theological application of math sacrosanct tells me that I will find someone out there. I'm still young, vital, and possessed of numerous advantages over most of humanity. And what may play into my favor more than anything else is my willingness to risk and make mistakes and then be driven to learn from them.

I look at the vast, lowing herd of bovine humanity and feel an uplifting sense of relief. What must it be like to be amongst their number? What must it be like to hurtle through life senseless and dumb, feeling, never thinking, never comprehending, never considering that they have within their capacity, the ability to make things better? What would life be like if I never took responsibility for my own living?

I don't know. I don't want to know.

I know I'll get there. It's just a matter of time.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Because so much of ordinary life is built on small failures and frustrations,
therapists see among this patient group a great disenchantment. The therapists
cited familiar tropes of the new gilded age: the three-year renovation of a
country house that becomes its own “infrastructure of entrapment,” as one
therapist put it; the man so accustomed to travel by private jet and chauffeur
that he develops a fear of airports and taxis. “It results in a fear of chaos
and vulnerability” Dr. Aidinoff said. -NYTimes

The things we own eventually end up owning us. When I read about issues like these my mind can't help but go back to one of my favorite excerpt of Mark Twight's:

"You ask about security? What you need is uncertainty. What you need is
; something that forces you to reinvent yourself, a whip to
drive you harder."

And what about what Jesus says?

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to
drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the
kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the
journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and
healing people everywhere.

Less is more.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Giving God an ultimatum is like being on a bicycle and playing chicken with a train.

I just can't give up the sense that God wants me to put this down. And I can't find it in me to do anything but call his bluff.

What a disaster.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All This Time

My heart has been heavy for the past few days, and driving home today the rain began to come down. Little at first, then thick, fat drops, then sheets of rain heavy as sin. Lightning flashed all around the only confirmation I had that the world existed outside of my car. This song was playing on my CD player.

From somewhere, I began first whispering, then saying, then screaming the word "trust."

trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, trust, T R U S T!

Stanley! Trust! Believe!

God, I believe! Help thou my unbelief!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Another poem before I go out for my long run this morning. (10 miler) This time, it's William Ernest Henley and this is one of my favorites.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of Circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of Chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Some morning thoughts as I'm about to go do my hill sprints (Thanks for reading, Charles!):

Safety is the enemy of progress. How will a ship find the other shore when it never leaves the first one? Do not be safe, do not long for stability. Accept the danger, the thrill and exhilaration of the fact that you may very well die in this endeavor, that you may fail and that there may be disaster. If death and disaster come, smile and endure. Smile because you attempted something worth attempting and endure because you are a man, a cosmic being.

There is salvation only in extremes. Jesus was a lot of things but he was not well-adjusted, upper middle class with a safe and secure environment from where his emotionally-balanced approach to life helped him to actualize himself. No, Jesus was man perfected. His mission was to live perfectly, yet endure hatred from insects, vermin and rabble and die at their filthy hands. He went through with it. Mission accomplished.

My mission is to be Jesus-like. You may also read that as "God-like" if you wish. A man that protects, like he did when he confronted the power of the Pharisees and protected the woman caught in adultery, a man who provides, and a man who fights as he did in the temple driving out the moneychangers. Perhaps it may simply be my own eisegetical perspective but I cannot help but read Jesus as a hot-blooded, passsionate man. I reject any view of him that makes him a serene, mountaintop yogi castrado. No, he is not soft. As C.S. Lewis said of Aslan, "He is not a tame lion." He's not a safe lion. But he's a good lion.

Salvation only in extremes. My rebellion is against the seething cesspool of mediocrity that we call 21st century America. Salvation in extremes. What are people doing with their lives? They pour their (very-marginal) efforts into trying to secure as much safety and security for their futures as they can. They want to entertain themselves into oblivion. No, NO,


Plunge myself into danger, discomfort. Throw myself into an unknown, stressful environment. Feel the fear, feel it course through your veins. The heart pounds faster, the head spins, non-vital functions shut off. You know why people who are terrified pee uncontrollably? It's because the body doesn't need to hold urine now. It's moving all the blood to the heart and muscles so that you can fight off a wolf or run away from a bear. Let my soul do the same. Jettison the useless portions. Move blood, fire, peauvoir to the vital areas.

A soft bed to come home to? Do not need.
Softball every Sunday? Do not need.
Stable, quiet job where I can be left alone? Do not need.
World's finest cuisine in a 20-minute radius? Do not need.
Contact with friends and family? Do not need.

And let me shock you now:
Watching my favorite team in their beautiful new stadium? Do. Not. Need.

What do I need?

A spiritual crucible.

Raw material, freshly ripped from the earth's womb is thrown in and a masterpiece emerges. Hard. Cold. Strong and beautiful as steel. Something to make man ashamed of their existence.

You only see what a man is like when you push him beyond his abilities; when you break him. Will I be the man that I hope I'll be? Will I be a quivering coward running back to his mother's skirt? Talk is cheap. We will see how much my soul is worth.

I will leave this country in less than a year. I will not come back soon.