We Do Not Box the Air

Scott over at American Dad Web writes:

All of spiritual discipline is like that. I figure, if its something that you personally find hard to do–but God asks you to do it anyway, you should probably do more of it. Struggle with overeating? Restrict your calories more. Struggle with loving your wife even when she is acting unlovable? Love her more. Struggle with obeying your husband because you think you know better? Submit and get over yourself.

So good.

Our conversations in the Men’s Sphere instruct me in the mystery of communication; of how information is transferred and processed; particularly among men. It is amazing. I mean: You talk about one thing, and I disagree. I say so, and then I talk about something else…but that something else has been influenced–pulled towards agreement–by your first statement, and I don’t even know it. And vice versa, and so on back and forth.

And there is the matrix-ing of information. Months ago Oscar recommended to me Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Well, Oscar is a big strong guy so I listened to him. I buy Rippetoe’s book and listen to his podcast, and do you know what he says is the best recovery for injury? Lifting weights with the injured limb. He says that physical therapy is a sham which trains one to be weak. Compare that to the words I quoted of you.

Meanwhile, last year someone somewhere linked to an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast which featured a clinical psychologist and professor named Jordan Peterson. His prescription for solving problems (say, a phobia) is athwart our mass media’s prescription. They say that we should make the problem go away, or that the problem isn’t real. Peterson says (I paraphrase), “No, the problem is real and it’s not going to go away. What you have to do is become stronger than the problem. And you can just like everybody else. Use a tool, chop up the problem into approachable pieces, and then overcome them one by one. The problem doesn’t stop being scary. You just learn to become stronger.”

In all three cases (Scott’s post, Rippetoe, and Peterson) what is brought to mind I will quote below. And it makes sense of why we have a physical body which must die; yet why we are to have hope for an eternal life after that. Here is St. Paul from Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

That hope is that this–life–isn’t just a game. It’s not futile to get stronger (mentally and physically) now only to get weak and die later. Nor is it just of temporal utility; the strength gained isn’t just to make our short lives easier for now. Suffering here is the opportunity to learn to have faith and so to train for eternity.

(Taken almost unmodified from my comment on Scott’s post.)

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6 thoughts on “We Do Not Box the Air

  1. Utterly beside the point of your post, but I switched from a Rippetoe-type program to Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program and it seems to be working. The benefit is that it’s easier – you make slower progress. You can find a pdf of his book online.

    P.S. don’t follow Rippetoe’s nutrition advice too closely or you’ll get fat especially if you’re in your forties like me.

  2. @ Bruce

    Rippetoe’s nutrition advice is often misunderstood. For example, a lot people think that his gallon-of-milk-per-day advice applies to everyone, when in fact it only applies to young, underweight men. It would’ve done me a lot of good in my late teens and early 20s when I weighed around 150 lb, but not now in my 40s at 200 lb.

    Wendler’s program is also good. Pretty much any program that revolves around heavy squats, deadlifts and presses is hugely beneficial.

    Here’s an interview with Rippetoe and Wendler.

  3. Part of the benefit, to me, of Rippetoe’s method is Rippetoe’s style. I get him. We come from the same area, and appreciate the same sort of speech.

    It’s interesting to watch Wendler next to Rippetoe.

  4. Cool – thanks for the Video Oscar.

    I was afraid that Wendler’s program wouldn’t be enough “volume” as they say – enough to make progress but so far so good – we’ll see where I’m at in a year. Think my deadlift is about maxed out for a light framed 40-something year old guy.

    Wendler has crazy high protein and calorie recommendations. I find that in general I can’t eat nearly as much as these guys say to or I get fat real fast – two pounds of fat for every pound of muscle -middle age stinks.

  5. I fell of the wagon after starting up lifting for the first time a bit back. Posts like this remind me I need to get back on the Wagon.

    And why I have to die. I might even work this in to the Sunday School this weekend.

  6. And yes, milk helps. The little bit I did I felt much better when I was drinking milk than when I didn’t. But also, don’t be an idiot. If you weigh a bizzillion pounds already don’t drink as much (of anything except water).

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