Exercise

Many people go to the gym without defined goals. This is okay if you’re only trying to enjoy yourself or meet people (a common event at gyms). But, if you wish to improve your fitness then you have to know what fitness is. I found a definition that is scientific, fits my own understanding, and has the backing of a physiologist (Kilgore). Essentially fitness is:

“Possession of adequate levels of strength, endurance, and mobility to provide for successful participation in occupational effort, recreational pursuits, familial obligation, and that is consistent with a functional phenotypic expression of the human genotype.”1

What this means is that fitness is relative to the needs of the individual, but objective precisely because one’s optimal fitness is not actualized if they experience unnecessary struggle in work, fun, and family. Now that you have a definition of fitness, I suggest that you do something to achieve it.

1Kilgore, Hartman, and Lascek, Fit: An Unconventional Guide to using conventional methods for creating fitness for the real world (Killustrated, 2011), 5.

On Bible Software

Nothing substitutes, in my mind, for the feel of sitting with a Greek New Testament and a notepad and jotting down thoughts and questions while reading. That being said:

E-Sword: It is free. E-Sword.net and biblesupport.com make absurd contributions to the pastoral study, the devotional time, and to the individual’s biblical knowledge for free. The commentary modules (Lange, Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, Spurgeon on the Psalms,  Meyer, Robertson’s Word Pictures, Trapp, the Gnomon by Bengel, Calvin’s Commentaries, etc) are literally thousands of dollars worth of free material. The problem is that it is dated material. Nevertheless, old, useful, and free is still fairly awesome. Also, because of the free-ness if you die a family member can use it. Digital licenses work differently when product is not under free domain.

BibleWorks9: It is inexpensive and it is nearly comprehensive in terms of its search, lexical, and textual features. Even a minimum wage worker could afford it after seminary. I bought it with money I made tutoring math on the side a few years ago. It has helped me write dozens of papers and read through the GNT with my paper GNT and using my mouse to run over words whose lemma I was unfamiliar with. My vocabulary improved by thousands of percent I would wager.

Gramcord: I still appreciate gramcord because it has the simplest syntactical search available. That is all there is to it. It’s the cheapest of the non-free options, but I have not even tried it in windows 8. Surely they’ve updated it.

Logos 5: It’s search capabilities are fantastic because of its plethora of material, particularly if you purchase the Portfolio package (which is quite pricey and filled with…well filler). The nice thing about it is that the lexical features (like HALOT and LSJ), Ancient Documents, searchable Perseus database, and other expensive academic features are available for pennies on the dollar.

All in all, I am saying that I am pro-bible software. All of these options are worthwhile, especially if you’re frugal. If you’re looking to them to save time by having less research I would warn you that it is better to look to them to make your research more efficient (more research same time). Also, it does not excuse you from reading huge chunks of Scripture on your own without electronic assistance (so in English or Greek and Hebrew if you’ve developed the skill) to have a good sense of the whole counsel of God.

Exercise as Poison or Trauma

 I am no scientist but I try to stay up on literature related to food and exercise culture as well as the popular and scientific literature on exercise and diet. The most common conceptual model used in exercise is “calorie burning.” This is a mistake. We burn calories just sitting and it is biologically DIS-advantageous to burn through thousands of extra calories per day. by running on a stair stepper as a form of penance for eating a cheese burger. It is better to simply eat less to control calories. 

Because of these factors, I propose a different model: exercise as poison. In ancient times intense physical exertion could leave a human being weak, helpless, and consequently close to death. The human body was designed to adapt to such stressors. In fact, through a process of rest and adaptation, it will build a tolerance for the next bout of trauma. This is similar to the Dread Pirate Roberts building up a tolerance for the fictional Iocane powder. Every time we exercise we should be trying to expose our body to a controlled amount of dangerous exertion so that we build up a tolerance to that trauma by resting and eating. 

If our bodies are becoming stronger, more durable, and capable of exerting effort over longer periods of time without sustaining injury, then our exercise has been worthwhile. Or, if in your twilight years, exercise prevents you from losing strength over a 10 year period, it has been worthwhile.

The adaptations which actual exercise stimulates are awesome: metabolic change, new muscle tissue, better coordination in the posterior chain muscle, stronger connective tissue (bone, tendons, and ligaments), and a more powerful ticker. These benefits overlap but are not the same as the main adaptation which comes from sports and playing: the development of an activity specific skill set. Similarly, real exercise burns some calories, but that is not its point. 

Thoughts from James

19 Ἴστε, ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί· ἔστω δὲ πᾶς ἄνθρωπος ταχὺς εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι, βραδὺς εἰς τὸ λαλῆσαι, βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν· ὀργὴ γὰρ ἀνδρὸς δικαιοσύνην θεοῦ οὐκ ἐργάζεται. (Jam 1:19-20 BGT)

Translation: Know this, my beloved brothers and sisters: now let everybody be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath because the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 (Geoff Smith Translation)

Thoughts: I am a man with a bad temper. It is easy to look at the teachings of Jesus and Paul about anger and say, “Well, it’s just an emotion that I cannot control and they both got pretty upset sometimes.” But James, perhaps through meditation upon the Sermon on the Mount or from reading some Jewish or Greek literature on self-control came to this conclusion, “Man’s anger cannot accomplish God’s righteousness.” That’s another way of saying, “Being angry does not do God’s will on the earth as it is done in heaven.” Emil Brunner noted in his commentary on Romans that “[the Righteousness of God] is nothing else but what is called in the Gospels “the reign of God” or “the kingdom of God…it concerns the realization of God’s will among mankind (Brunner, 16).” I think James’ use is identical. If God’s will and it’s realization in the character of human persons is the goal of the Christian life, then we must realize that our preferences for seething anger over things that cannot oppose God’s purposes is an exercise in wastefulness. Our anger cannot accomplish God’s righteousness on earth, so next time you feel absurdly angry just remember “God’s righteousness is more important than this issue and my anger does nothing to realize it in my life.”