Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dilemma

I've been thinking about starting another blog.  I want to write about other subjects in addition to running so the question is -- do I continue pouring the increasing stream of non-related topics into this one, or maintain a second blog adding more hours spent on my laptop?  Since I have discovered my love for writing, I could happily blog away the hours, but that doesn't bode well with Life in General.  Blogging just doesn't get much laundry done, errands ran, bills paid, or Husband-time devoted to.  However, the weeds in my back yard happily thrive on it.

It took me months to start this blog because I got hung up on choosing a name.  So a new blog poses the same hurdle.  ..... Which segues to the obvious question on the minds of my small, but cherished, audience:  What the heck does she want to gripe about NOW?

Well, since you asked, it's only a couple of innocent, non-controversial subjects ....... namely religion and politics, peppered with ethics and conservatism.  Yes.  I have opinions.  (And you can see why choosing a blog title that doesn't immediately put the entire internet to sleep, is no small task here.)  With the approach of what is likely to be the most important election in my lifetime thus far, and the possibility of the presidency involving a member of my WONDERFUL-yet-too-often-misunderstood church which I am passionately compelled to defend ...... either I drive my facebook friends crazy with my rants, or I vent through the blogosphere.  (Husband's comment to me:  "You'll do both.")  Maybe so, but there is a world to save, and I feel the need to speak out .....

So while I stew over the options, you may all take a moment to enjoy my tulips which are actually blooming!
Husband urged me out to the patio and even cooked a steak for me while I typed.  With that idyllic thought, you are probably now wondering why on earth why I feel the need to vent about anything.  Gazing at my tulips and being lulled by the scent of our nearby magnolia bush ....... I .... um .... hmmm ...... can't remember the reason either.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sprinting and other dubious ideas

A good friend sent me an article on the benefits of sprinting-intervals VS long, slow distance running.  It claims that more calories are burned by short frantic, as-if-chased-by-a-rabid-Rottweiler sprints interspersed with brief breaks of slow running or walking.  
So of course, armed with this new and unwanted knowledge, I am compelled to revisit the local track with my stopwatch.

Track-running rates only slightly above treadmill-running.  But at least it affords me a relatively lesser amount of public exposure as opposed to slogging along on the major highway that slices through my town.  Very few see me on the track.  And considering the state of my hair after a good 30 minutes of running, the less seen, the better.

So my new regimen is to run like all get-out for 30-40 seconds, then collapse into a walk for about a minute, repeating the process until I hit one mile total of sprinting.  This means 8 to 12 repeats depending on the length of the sprints.  This week I ran for half a lap, then walked the other half.  According to my GPS, I can briefly push my time under a seven-minute-mile without throwing up.  Husband helpfully suggests I push it closer to Puking Level, but I don't see HIM losing his breakfast when he exercises.  And I have no intention of losing mine.

The first time I tried this, my legs quickly turned to rubber, followed by several days of hostile thigh muscles.  Usually my thighs quietly comply with whatever I put them through and my calves freak out instead.  But this time the calves were fine.  (Maybe .... due to the recent hint of warm weather and the approach of capris-season, they're happily preoccupied with the instant-tanning cream I've started to slather on them.)
Finally, an added benefit of sprinting is that it builds speed.  That would be nice.  But at my age, let's just try to hang on to what I've got, okay?   So NO NEED to send me any more articles unless they contain uplifting/cheerful advice such as ....  one really ought to drink chocolate milk after one's run.  And particularly nothing on rock-climbing or hang-gliding, please.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This is love?

You may have noticed that my blog title changed from " .... a running blog"  to "... a mostly running blog".   This is to allow me to deviate from my original purpose as, you may have also noticed, I've been doing more of lately.  One can only say so much about running ..... but you didn't hear that from me.  So onto another non-running subject.   

I have been involved in apologetics.  The handy dictionary in my laptop defines this as "reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine".  

IOW, I like to discuss Christianity with people who don't share my particular Christian beliefs.  I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known by the nickname "Mormon", and my ties go back to my birth and beyond.  I have a fierce loyalty towards, and love for, my religion which centers on the gospel of Christ, and there are a LOT of misconceptions about us that I feel compelled to dispel.  There are misconceptions that we have about others as well and I cling to the hope that an honest, respectful conversation can help to build an understanding and even a friendship.  

I have participated in several online forums, some managed by fellow Latter-day Saints, and some not.  And I have learned some valuable lessons about other Christian faiths.  I preface my list with the important note that sometimes discussions between mainstream Christians and LDS are like ships passing in the night.  We are using the same words, but our meanings are different, which feeds the misunderstandings and tosses frustration into the mix.  So that said, here is what I have learned:

1.  Beliefs vary greatly among mainstream Christians.  Do not assume that any two professed Christians agree on doctrine --- even if they attend the same denomination.  For example, some believe that baptism is essential to salvation, and others do not.  Some believe that I am a fellow Christian and others not only think I am NOT a Christian, but that I and others like me, are going straight to hell ..... do not pass Go, do not collect $200 ....  They claim that as long as Christians agree on basic doctrine, such as the Trinity, then the other peripheral tenets don't matter ..... but I've never been able to discern exactly which tenets are basic, and who gets to decide.    

2.  Those who say that I am not a Christian, simply define the title differently than I do.  We LDS tend to chuckle, roll our eyes and say, Isn't Jesus Christ in the VERY TITLE of our church's name?  Silly people!  But to them, or at least to some of them (see #1) -- to be Christian means you have accepted Christ as your personal savior and that YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED.  Since, in their opinion, "Mormons" obviously are not saved, then we can't be Christians.   AIthough I don't agree, I can see their point.

3.  With all the disagreement in doctrine, we feel the logical option is to simply ask God.  After all, his opinion DOES matter, doesn't it?  However, some (again see #1) Christians say that asking deity is unreliable.  They say one cannot be sure if an answer truly came from God.   They say feelings cannot be trusted and that we MUST find our answers in the Bible where all is clearly written to eliminate all confusion.  However, considering the reality of #1, I am still scratching my head.   "Well," I've been told when I've pointed out a discrepancy among them, "Everyone else is wrong.  The others are NOT following the Bible." ...... Okay, but that's not what the others say .... but oh well.

4.  In the ongoing debate about grace vs works, some (#1 again) Christians don't define works as good deeds.  This is important because we LDS have misunderstood this.  They define works as ordinances.  Many Christians simply believe that belief in Christ is all one needs.  Good deeds are a natural outcome of that belief and so the deeds really don't deserve a mention.  They just are.  Ordinances ended with Christ's ministry.  (Yes, he WAS baptized but that doesn't matter .... to some ....)
One problem I have encountered is that it appears that the young, with their youthful zeal and computer prowess, tend to monopolize many of these forums.  With youth, naturally comes immaturity and that immaturity (on our side also) just doesn't represent anyone well.  So I have fancied myself as one of the more mature and calmer voices, that can overlook the sarcasm, and inject some reason and respect into the fray.  

Another problem with ALL online interaction is that no one can hear vocal tones, nor see facial expressions which, in a face-to-face conversation, add a tremendous amount of communication.  Without that, one can assume anger or ridicule where none was intended.  So here too, I thought my maturity and seasoned wisdom, would be helpful.   And it goes without saying that one's self-perceived wisdom and maturity is all relative.   Sometimes I've got it, and sometimes not.

Anyway, for the past several months I have been participating in a site that is managed by a Christian group, in which there are many sub-sections, one of which is devoted to cults.  And guess what.  THAT's where you can find "Mormonism".   There is also a considerable amount of biased misinformation about our church placed in a helpful resource section, in case someone needs the "facts".   So into the forum I walked and immediately was hit by an onslaught.  At first glance, one can see that the misinformation is rampant.  So I spoke up with a comment (knowing beforehand that one must step VERY lightly in such settings) like, "Um, that's not true.  That's not part of our doctrine."

With that, I was blasted with a torrent of vile comments about our past church leaders, our scriptures, our people, and just about everything that I hold dear.  

Their reasoning for such conduct, they say, is because they "love" us.  (Really?  I wonder how they treat those they hate .....  )  And because of that "love", they are trying to save us.  Okay..... I can appreciate that.  But the irony is that their version of "love" drives most of us away and as a result, very few if any, will benefit from their mission to save.  I have tried to point this out to them, but to no avail.  

But I stayed in there for a few months in the hope that I might find one reasonable, fair-thinking person.  There has to be, I thought, someone who could see that their methods were anything BUT productive to their cause.  But it wasn't to be.  I finally walked away, battered and bruised from the barrage of "love".  Add my name to the long list of LDS who will not be "saved" this week.  

All in all, I have learned quite a bit, as I have listed above.  I continue to hold firmly to the belief that the vast majority of mainstream Christians are the wonderful and generous people I've always known them to be.  And I have gained yet again, a profound appreciation for my own religion which has taught me to treat others with respect and kindness.  It has taught me who Jesus Christ is and how we can, and should, emulate him through our words and behavior.  That not only shows what love REALLY is .... it also shows class
The Good Samaritan