Thursday, May 29, 2008


"Finished? It'll never be finished."

Kenpachi's speech between 2:15 and 3:45 is one of those anime moments that will stick with me for a long time.

"Everyone who searches for power, without exception, searches for battle."

I wrote in my last entry about the constant fear of regression that people feel once they've done what I've done. It is in my estimation, the exact fear that former inmates have when faced with the thought of going back to prison, the thought that your life is being taken away from you. Someone else will dictate when you go to sleep, when you rise, when you go to the bathroom, when you eat.

In my previous entry, I said that hatred and loathing paved the road to freedom for me and many others. This is true. It is a superior kind of hatred and loathing though. I experienced hatred and loathing every day while I rotted under the yoke of gluttony and sloth. Everything about the life that I lived in this weak, ineffective hatred was contemptible and low. Speaking in biological terms, that lifetime was the primordial slime from which higher life would develop. Hatred, pure and honest, intense as a stroke of lightning, fiery as the world's womb, scathing as acid rain, hatred transformed me from slime into something slightly more than slime.

I do not think I am much. In fact, I believe a great portion of who I am is still just slime. But it's not completely slime. Something, some little things here and there have changed, been transformed. That gives me much hope. If a little can change, a little more can change and then a little more after that.

The key I believe is to look forward. The worst thing someone can do is not look back, which I assume is the opposite of looking forward, but it is to look inward and feel contentment. Contentment in this regard leads to complacency and that will inevitably lead to regression.

In David's sin when he stole the wife of one of his men and then murdered him to cover his trail, one small detail has always stood out to me. He was at home watching women bathe while his soldiers were fighting his battles. He had ceased to go out to battle with his men long before. I wonder what David was like then. Was he, as I imagine him to be, fat, with his belly hanging loose making his armor unwearable, face red and flushed from enjoying the royal wine and the multitudes of wives, weakening his sword arm? What was David like then? Complacent, a disaster waiting to happen...

No, I will not go down the path. There is never to be rest in this life. There is no retirement. There is no backing down. I will go hard until I cannot go anymore. Ideally, Caleb from Scripture is one of my great heroes and I rank him over David for the fact that he kept it going late into his life. In his old age, his sword-arm was not weak nor was his eye-sight dim. I think that is due to the Lord's blessing, yes, but no more so than Jack LaLlane's fitness at age 93 is a blessing. Science has shown that if you keep pushing yourself, your body can and will adapt. Don't sell it short. Don't sell yourself short.

There will be no shaking throne. I will not be a slave to my body anymore. No desire will ever master me as it did before. Cupcakes, cookies, coke, candy... no, these are not OK. How dare I think about taking a step towards regression! Skip a workout? Slack off and not go through the full range-of-motion? No, we will pursue better things.

365 is my deadlift max. This week I'll try for 385. I'll attempt a 320 lb. squat. I'm going to realize my one-handed push-up and one-armed chin-up before the year is through. I'm going to run a mile in under 6. Then under 5. I will see how far I can go in everything. There will be no end. There will only be new markers.

And here... here is the next one.

26.2 miles. Double my previous high. A full marathon. 120 days to prepare.

Time to get to work.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some explanations

So of course this post is non-sequitur. It has to be.

Anyways, I just read an article over at one of the fitness (natch, bodybuilding and powerlifting) websites that I frequent and felt compelled to perhaps clarify some points in my own story.

Reading about Bartl's physical transformation struck a chord in me. No, I never did smoke, blow or drink. But I was pre-diabetic, grossly, morbidly obese and worse than all of those: I wished that I was something else. Here I use wish in a pejorative way. I hate wishing. I despise wishful thinking. People who preach "positive energy" and "positive thinking" make me want to throw things. But what is more damning than all the rest is that I wanted to protect my fragile ego. I would alternate between lying to myself and pretending I wasn't disgustingly fat or saying that I was fat but I was strong and thus it was OK. (I was not strong. Only among Asians would a bench-press of 350 pounds be considered strong.) My genetics didn't allow for me to be fit. Mom's food is too good. I have to go and eat with these people to fellowship with them. I'm fat for the cause of Christ!


From where I am in 2008, I am most merciless, most brutal, unloving, unforgiving, unkind, rough and arrogant towards those who rationalize in my presence. I mock them. I belittle them. I shove them around and injure them. I am only describing. What I have done is not justifiable by any means. This is simply a statement of facts.

I act this way because I am a thousand times worse towards myself. I do not point to my mother's delicious cooking, the racial anguish of my earlier years, Satan, sunspots or generic geekiness as the cause of my struggles with insecurity and obesity. I point solely to my soul, a sick, twisted, hideous mass of rationalizations and softness.

If you have read Bartl's story on T-nation, then I can tell you I changed myself the same way; extreme hatred and anger. Towards myself. Towards the sick, disgusting bag of flesh that I carried every day. It is something that those who have always been or fit can understand. Those who have never wrestled with themselves can never understand. There is no possibility of that. They do not understand what it takes to stand before a mirror and grab a roll of fat and say:

"This is disgusting. This is fat. This is the sign of a sick and
trembling soul. Do not be gentle. Do not go easy. Indulge yourself in truth's
toxicity. Inhale it deeply. Let it kill you. Make it kill you. If it does not
kill you, then gorge on it until it hurts. And then take another bite. Make sure
you die. You like eating don't you, worm? You're nothing but a useless maggot, a
vile, spineless, worthless load of trash. If you love to eat so much, eat

I would do this nightly and make sure that any sense of ego I had was annihilated. It was not easy. It was painful. But it was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done in my life bar-none.

Hatred. When I ran my daily 4 miles in the morning, heaving and panting and flailing wildly at the air trying to drag myself through each step, would any of my readers understand what kind of things I would say to motivate myself? It was motivated from pure hatred. I imagined myself an overzealous lunatic monk of bygone eras whipping myself. When my sides hurt from stomach cramps, I imagined a fit, muscular, lean version of myself thrusting a spear into a fat, soft, quivering version with a face contorted in sadistic hatred. There will be no mercy. I want to hear the old, soft child in me squeal and cry out in pain and I wanted to tear that boy apart limb by limb as lions tear apart gazelles on the Discovery Channel. No mercy. Much pain.

And much fear. I wonder if my church-mates understand why it is that I do not join them for a post-church lunch anymore. It is an old hatred I have. And it is a very new fear. As Bartl said in his own words, so I say in mine. I think that many who have went through this same journey as I live with a constant fear of relapse. Perhaps it goes away after a space of years or decades but perhaps not. Who is to say? When I see a donut, a cookie, some cake, ice cream, there wells up in me a tremendous fear that I will taste and enjoy. That I will do so tomorrow. And the day after. And so on until I'm crying years later, enveloped in a sea of flesh asking how I could have let this happen.

Here I am no longer battling myself. I am fighting everybody. I am fighting a nation, a civilization. I am fighting the human instinct to gorge and gather. I love my parents but they are the worst. "Oh honey, why don't you enjoy yourself a little? Just be careful when you exercise. Be gentle and do it slow..." What do they know of reactive-strength, speed-strength, explosiveness or hypertrophy? Their concern is touching but I am always gruff in my response. And the eating habits of nearly everyone around me... Intolerable! How can you eat fast food and enjoy it? How can you ask me to partake? Did Daniel have to endure this in Babylon's embrace? No, I will never step inside a Panera, Uno's Chicago Grill again. No more.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a war against obesity that I am waging. This is a war against rationalization and excuse making. This is a war, an all-out, brutal, total war against softness and mediocrity. My rebellion is against these suffocating forces in society. My hate is for this and the way I see it in myself.

I will admit many sins here. I am not gracious when I find people who remind me of who I used to be. I will freely say that I do not always have a desire to help them. Very often if they are guys I will have an insane desire to hit them and beat them viciously. If they are female, I want to ignore them and trample over them as one may walk in gardens over the lives of ants and worms. Sometimes I want to reach out and help and rescue them from their lives of mediocrity and meaninglessness. It's a struggle I have. This is complete honesty. I am often ungodly and a sure sinner when confronted with people who are as I was.

Only in the past week or so have I realized that the pendulum has swung too far. I am too hard. There is no soil for love in this heart of mine. But now having seen the problem, I will work towards correcting this issue.

But it is not a reversal. The pendulum metaphor only has a limited application. It would be better to think of Hegelian aufhebung, sublation and synthesis. Hatred and hardness were the most important things I learned in the past half-decade. The pain I felt in my heart from that break-up stirred up much that had been waiting to explode. I am incredibly thankful for it. But now having hurt others I see the new direction to go in. The hatred and hardness cannot last forever. That season is coming to its close. I believe the hatred will at some point in the near future boil away and leave beautiful resolve in its place, sterner than steel, stronger than stone, steadfast. Steadfast. This fear of regression must be overcome. At some point, I will realize that I have not had a major setback these past 5 years and I must continue to push higher and onward without slackening my guard. Popeye's Fried Chicken and latte's should never again enter my allowed-to-consume list.

Enough talk. Talk is worthless. Get your ass in gear, Lee.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Interesting ontological question that occurred to me while running the Healthy Kidney 10K:

Is knowledge ever truly knowable?

Hold on a second there, pre-suppositionalist cowboy. I've been around so I know the tricks of the trade. I know all the dumb answers to that question:

"How do I know you actually said that? If I don't know, why
should I answer?"

"Knowledge HAS TO BE knowable because that question
demonstrates a knowledge-base."

Patron Saint of Baseball.

But first the question came up as a question of relativity. As I was running, I'm passing by scores of runners. I love the feeling of the uphills because I've trained specifically for them. While other people look at hills and curse out loud or under their breath, I look at hills with a special exhiliration.

"I've trained for this. I've trained HARDER than this. This is
nothing." -- Roger Clemens

But I can't sustain that pace for the entire time. At the 5th or 6th miles, other runners started flying past me. These runners had a special store of power left in them for the final stretch. But then I noticed something. All throughout the race, other runners had been passing me by. Big runners, small runners, male runners, female runners, Achilles athletes... How fast was I truly going? I couldn't judge by my own senses. The world is relative and I had no fixed point of reference.

But thank God for the race-clock, right? That must surely be an objective point of reference to track my progress. But is it really? I've been reading other blogs and many other runners noted how their GPS watches gave them different split-times and distances than the official clock and course settings. The race chips on our feet logged different times as well.

"A man with one watch always knows the time. A man with two watches
never knows the time."

Which time is correct? Ultimately the chip-time was designated as the official time. That's a rather arbitrary ruling. Even so, does the concept of arbitrary expand so wide that it destroys even itself? What would be required in an objective measurement? (And of course it is only a few steps away before we can begin to speak of a moral relativity. But for now let us speak of tangible measurements of inches and meters.)

I'm not sure that objectivity is possible. Using the poor tool of my own imagination, I am unable to conceive of any situation or circumstance where one measurement system or method SHOULD be taken over another system or method. These all boil down to preferences and similarities/dissimilarities. The value of any given system is defined by its goal and context and I cannot conceive of any unifying goal or context.

Next post: The ramifications in a moral system

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Truth, in an objective sense


Were the words any truer, they would've been in the Bible.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Thin Line

"If I tell you I'm good you will think I am boasting. If I tell you I am no
good, you know I am lying." -- Bruce Lee

One of the struggles I have always had as a Christian is understanding the interplay between God and man in man's duty. This is particularly difficult for me as someone who subscribes to the Reformed beliefs of God's Sovereignty.

I think I have it worked it out in terms of regeneration and the ordo salutis. Regeneration first, belief afterwards. Regeneration is the principal cause of belief. No problem so far.

But what about sanctification?

This is where things become murky for me. Paul describes his spiritual regimen saying

"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man
beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have
preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." -- 1Cor. 9:25-27

This resonates with me. I have a sense of what it means to train seriously. I understand that when everyone wants to go to some restaurant to eat their greasy, disgusting, face-stuffing food I have to say "Go and fatten yourselves up. I'm eating a can of tuna fish and an egg and washing it down with a protein shake." I understand that when everyone is at home watching T.V., that is the perfect time to go out in the pouring rain and run 6 cold, miserable miles.

And when I do that I also understand I'm purging my soul of any love for comfort and idleness. How much more for the eternal soul? Love of ease and idleness cannot, should not exist in my soul.

Yes! I understand this, Paul!

"We proclaim him admonishing and teaching with all wisdom, so that we may
present everyone perfect in Christ.
To this end I labor, struggling with
all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
" -- Colossians

This I do not understand. What energy? What power? I understand my power, my ability. I do not believe Paul is telling the Colossian church that there is some universal, prevenient capacity that is distributed to Christians generally which allows them to then strive and struggle and that without this prevenient sort of grace, we cannot do Gospel work.

As I understand the larger Biblical themes of redemptive history, atonement of particular individuals, etc., I understand God to be an active agent in each. He was the one that saw Israel's sin and drew up Assyria to take them into captivity. Hell also, is not a place where sinners "just happen to go." I believe that God actively consigns a person to their eternal fate after judging them for their works. For those punitive acts of secondary justice, I believe God is actively directing the universe. So when it comes to the issue of sanctification, I do not understand God's role.

It is the "I" that performs the action and understandably "I" am due some of the credit. I must make a choice to sin or not to sin. God does not override the will and make choices for me. Jesus does not do a pull-up and then impute growth to my latissimus dorsai muscle. I must work. If I don't do the pull-up my lats won't grow. If I don't discipline my soul and create situations to foster growth, don't take initiatives to stimulate growth, I will not progress.

Obviously, I see sanctification operating under different principles than regeneration. Jesus died on the cross, atoned for my sin and by the Holy Spirit imputed his righteousness-- put a stamp on me that said "Paid In Full." Regeneration operates independently of the will. There is no capacity to desire God or to love God in unregenerate man. A man can no more will himself to new life anymore than a cold, bloodless corpse can will itself to tapdance.

But I am alive now. I am no longer dead. That much is Biblically true. I am alive and I am doing things. If I do, I bear responsibility for my actions no matter the outcome. A baseball player says God's power makes him hit the home run. Does he say God made him ground into a double play?

Where is God, how is God working post-regeneration?

Paul works. But He also attributes his work to God. How? Where? I don't think it's just a rubber stamp he uses to Christ-ify his work. How is God working?

Open question. Looking for answers.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Personal Heroes: Jack LaLanne


"The average person who is 70 or 80 is over the hill... They're fat,
they're racked with aches and pains. Then you get people over 90 who are running
marathons, because they worked at living. I have a lot of energy and you know
why? Because I use it. It's use it or lose it, and it's believing in something.
Most people just go through life existing, waiting for retirement. That's the
death knell."

"I train two hours every day. I do an hour and a half of weight training,
then maybe a swim or a walk. I like change. I change my program every 30 days.
You know, you get bored. The only thing I don't change is my wife."

"Sitting around on your big fat gluteus maximus talking about the good old
days. The good old days are right this second. You've got to exercise
VIG-OR-OUSLY! Life is tough. Life is a challenge. Life is a battlefield... .
Life is an athletic event, and you must train for it."

The first thing people notice about the blog is the title. Faith. Flyballs. Most of my posts fall into one of these two categories. I talk about baseball, maybe some of the other sports as well, and then I talk about my faith. Personally, I am somewhat torn by this bifurcation. I really believe the body is the soul and the soul is the body. It is useful to speak of the two separately in one sense and it is harmful in another sense.

"When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces
himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has
developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I
tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." Emil

This is what I mean! The body-soul is not a bar of iron. Iron rusts. Iron rusts to nothing in a sea of air. Iron melts under heat and shatters in the cold. The body-soul is not iron. Push your body, push your soul until it hurts, until it's crying out for you to stop, until it's pleading with you for mercy. Then watch. A little rest and it becomes stronger. Push it again, push it past the familiar, the things it knows it is capable of, thrust it mercilessly into the unknown. It becomes stronger still. Iron does not grow. Steel does not learn. What is a sword compared to the hand that wields it? Iron is not strong. This, this body, this soul, it is strong.

Running the Brooklyn Half-Marathon last week, I was in a world of agony as my hamstrings and calves on both legs started cramping up terribly at the 11th mile. 11 miles! What a worthless distance! But it was beyond the scope of what I had endured up to that point. I had never pushed myself that hard before. But I was pushing that morning. Overcast sky. Freezing wind. Wave after wave of swift, lithe, beautiful runners passing me by, mocking me with their easy pace. Was I pushing my body and training my soul? Was I pushing my soul to train my body? Both questions are misguided.

Stanley hobbled across 2 embarassing miles, 2 of the longest miles he's ever seen. He willed his body towards and then across the finish line. 2 hours 12 minutes 33 seconds.

Yet, it means nothing. I must take myself to that limit again, today, if at all possible. And then tomorrow. Excellence is a habit. Strength is a habit. Endurance is a habit.

My goal in life is perfection. I make no apologies for this brash statement. I want to be perfect in Christ-likeness. This goal serves only as a beacon, something to aim at, to focus and direct all my energies towards. I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, believe that I will achieve perfect Christ-likeness in the years that God allots to me on this earth. But I believe the Holy Spirit will bring me closer today than yesterday and closer still tomorrow than today. And I believe that I must keep pushing. I cannot, at any point, stop pushing.

Recently, I have injured a friend through my inattentiveness. Falling into complacency, I let something go unattended and it damaged our friendship. I am unsure what the final bill will be. Yet, if nothing else, I realize my error. So what do I do now? I must keep pushing forward. I cannot stop. I must keep going forward.

That is why Jack LaLanne is a hero of my mine. I do not think he believes in the Gospel but I know he believes in never having enough. I know he believes that he hasn't yet scratched his potential. I know he believes he can do better. That is what I can learn from him.

I am not the man that I should be or want to be. But I am getting closer. I am hobbling with cramped calves and hamstrings and every step is a world of agony, but I will cross that finish line.