Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Long Route

Well, I didn't get into the Douglas College Self-Employment program, thus I won't be getting the formal training or $300 week funding support to start my sole proprietorship, but y'know, that's okay. I'm pretty zen about it. I'm going to go it alone, figure it out and make it happen. It'll take longer, no doubt, but this way I can make it my own thing.

I'm planning to call it Rogue Wave Communications ("Stand out. Be phonemenal.") I checked to make sure no one's using that name in B.C. so I'm good to go. First step is to register the name and figure out to create a website. The big question right now is, how the hell do I do that?

I'm going to do some Internet research and maybe YouTube will help me out. For learning HTML I know is a help. But do I really need to know coding to create a business site? Being the anti-tech person (barely know how to use an iPod), this is going to be a real challenge...

But I've decided, sink or swim, I'm going to start the new year with a new business. We should all think of ourselves as self-employed anyway, regardless of who writes our paycheck.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

122 Tosses

So I can juggle for a while now (about a minute), but my limit seems to be just over 100 tosses. I can't figure out how those guys do it for, like, half an hour, and not just with juggling balls, but with swords. Sometimes swords on fire. You can't drop those, though; it's not an option. Someone's toe might get cut off or burned, or both.

For anyone wanting to get started, though, here are a couple of tips:

1. Practice standing next to your bed. This way, when you drop the balls, you don't have to reach down to the ground. The balls will be at waist height. 

2. Start by tossing just two balls from your left to your right hand and then back the other way. Try to make the balls reach the same height with each toss, directly above the opposite hand, so they neatly fall down into your hand without you having to reach for them. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Self Employment?

Today I put in my application for the Self-Employment Program at Douglas College. I'm planning to start a small communications company, and knowing absolutely diddly-squat about how to start or run a business (yay, English degree!), I figure this will be the best route to get it off the ground. Always wanted to be CEO of Something Inc.

I find out Dec. 23 if I'm in. Either way this is gonna happen. It would just be a lot easier with help.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bartending New Year's?

Last week I met some people at a friend-of-a-friend's closing show thingy at Wild Rice and one of them happened to be the bar manager. I thought to myself, this place is pretty cool, and hey, since I don't have any plans for New Year's this year, why not be here, serving beer and cocktails? It'll be volunteer, but I'll be somewhere fun and getting to try out my flair skills. Or at least learn some flair skills. I already know how to pour a beer, so that's a start. Sent Alison a message, she seems keen about the idea. We'll see what happens...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#35 - Bible, cover-to-cover

The Good Book. The Word of God. The Holy Bible.

Started reading Genesis on January 1 this year... "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," and last night I finished with the final words of Revelation, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

I've now read every single word, from cover to cover. (Although the version I read is a protestant copy, which means, technically, I could read MORE books from the Apocrypha in an orthodox bible, but for now, I'm done!)

(Side note: when I started reading the King James version this year, I didn't realize that this is the 400th year anniversary of publication. It was in 1611 that Prince James, in England, commissioned this copy to be read in churches there. Kind of a neat coincidence.)

Took me almost a year of reading almost every day, and wow, what a book. I started off feeling really frustrated by the fairy-tale perspective of Genesis (Adam and Eve and the snake in the garden. Really? I'm supposed to believe this stuff?) and grew even more perturbed by much of the bloody violence in the Old Testament, interspersed with insanely boring chapters outlining long family histories. "And Jonah begat Samuel, who begat Jehosaphat, who begat..."

There's a reason most people haven't read the bible. It's very long and very challenging.

But then again, isn't that the point? There's also a reason it's still today the most widely published book in history. I started out with cynicism and yet despite my resistance to it, could not help but be moved and inspired by the Christian holy book. There are, if you're willing to stick it out to get to the good stuff, incredibly entertaining stories, inspiring quotes, heroic and noble characters, and the ultimate message of hope, in the gospel. Even if you're not religious, even if you don't believe in God, I dare you to read the New Testament and not want to be a Christian, even just in your heart.

For all the mistakes and disappointments we find in each other, Jesus Christ is Love itself, Hope embodied, and the ultimate hero. He's someone to idolize, to follow, to trust in. I'm biased, of course, being raised in a Catholic family, but I honestly think even if I wasn't a Christian before, I'd be very tempted to consider becoming one now. Not necessarily in the way that becoming a Christian means in the modern world, following a proscribed formula laid out by some church I don't fit with, but to start off with, just in my heart and mind, just by trying to be more like Jesus. Nobody can argue with trying to be more kind, more loving, can they?

I think we can all, everyone in the world, no matter what our religion or even atheist perspective, learn something profound about what it means to be the best human being we can be, from the example of the life and teachings of Jesus. And in that, there is great hope. Thank God for the Bible!



The Book of Revelation doesn't make sense unless you've just done a lot of drugs. I think most theologians would agree with me on this one. 

The whole 22-chapter saga, written by John (as in the fourth gospel and letters from John) is some kind of weird tale of seven-headed dragons, vengeful angels pouring blood into the sea, earthquakes and storms, the four horsement of the apocalypse and, let's not forget the Antichrist, who's number, we are told, is 666. Why? Who cares? None of this makes any sense! Mother of Pearl, this one's effed up. Finishing the bible with this book makes me wish it wasn't in the bible, I have to be honest, because the books leading up to this one are historical, genuine, heartfelt, and make so much sense for what it means to follow Jesus. The gospels, Corinthians, James, even the Old Testament stuff, like Ruth, Job, Psalms, and the lovely Ecclesiastes are somehow overshadowed by this embarrassingly violent, kaleidoscopic mix of visions at the end.

The really strange and interesting thing about Revelation is that John writes in the first person, with Jesus as the narrator, and Jesus says don't change a single word in this book, don't take one word out and don't ad any words at all. Leave it exactly as it is, or else...

Wow. Trippy.

From what I've learned through Bible for Idiot's and Cliffs Notes, if for nothing else, the book of Revelation is meant to remind Christians that Christ will be back, and will be ready to make a judgement about mankind, so be ready. In the end, the bad guys always lose and the good guys always win. 

The end... Or is it? 

"He wich testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." -- Revelation 22:20

**NEXT: bible summary/commentary

Friday, December 2, 2011

#18 - See A Pro Hockey Game

Well, that was easy! I've always wanted to see a hockey game live, right? And today, out of the blue, my brother Aidan calls from work, and he's like, "Hey, do you want to go see the Canucks tonight?" And I'm all like, "Uh, yeah!"

Turns out my sister-in-law's Grade 3 student's dad works for the team, so he offered her free tickets and she didn't feel like going tonight so my brother asked me. Sweet deal. All I had to pay for was a skytrain ticket and a slice of pizza from MegaBite on the way to Rogers Arena.

So anyway, seeing the game live was cool, despite the home team losing 6 - 5 to the Nashville Predators. Damnit, Canucks! At least there was no riot. The only excitement outside at the end was a couple of bongo drum hippies busking in the rain. I finally feel like a real Canadian now, though, having been to a pro hockey game.

And I did get to see a pretty exciting game in which Bieksa did a really funny pommel horse move over the Nashville goalie's net and I did get to give strangers enthusiastic high-fives for the goals the Canucks scored.

The things I expected:

1. It was cold in the arena. I'm glad I wore a toque and a scarf.
2. People made a lot of noise when the Canucks scored. That was awesome.
3. A lot of people drank a lot of beer out of plastic cups. (I didn't because I'm starting an alcohol-free month. Didn't know I was going to a Canucks game tonight when I thought of the idea this morning.)

The things I didn't expect:

1. There was A LOT of advertising all throughout the game, on the jumbo-tron, on the banner going around the stands, on the inside of the rink and anywhere else they could stick ads. It was kind of annoying. When there's a commercial break, you still have to watch the commercials even if you've paid for a ticket. They're on the jumbo-tron.

2. When there's a commercial break these kids in green t-shirts skate onto the ice like bats out of hell and shovel up all the ice shavings. So that's what's actually going on while I'm forced to watch car commercials every 10 minutes while I'm in my living room!

3. Women in the bathrooms are drunk and will be very rude regardless of how classy they look before they open their mouths. I guess that's just hockey culture. I've never heard a woman yell, "Hurry up, bitches!" in the washroom during intermission at a ballet or opera. Never.

4. The highlight of the game for me, not being a huge hockey fan (let's be honest here, the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup... I'm officially... maybe even permanently... off the bandwagon) was the game during the first intermission the five-year olds played. It was so fun watching these little tykes give it their everything, which wasn't much at all, but one kid actually scored a goal and the whole arena cheered earnestly and with gusto while the lights went bezerk and the announcer said, "Score!" Forget Burrows, that kid must feel like a million bucks tonight as he's getting into bed in his PJs with his teddy bear and Canucks nightlight shining the orca logo on his ceiling.

Good game.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The letter from Jude is the last of the epistles to the early churches. Jude calls himself the brother of James, so we can assume he's also the brother (or half-brother, technically) of Jesus.

Anyway, Jude's letter is just a quick reminder not to follow false prophets, whom he earnestly explains as being evil. This letter is more important for understanding the history of the church than for understanding the teachings of Christianity, I would say.

And next Revelation, which is the final book in the New Testament, and, in fact, in the whole bible. I've been warned I'm in for a bumpy ride. Should be interesting...

**NEXT: Revelation

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Letters from John

Read 1, 2 and 3 John tonight. I didn't realize it's the same John who wrote the fourth gospel as well as the book of Revelation. The guy was a prolific writer!

Anyway, the three letters are pretty short, and are to Christians warning them about false prophets, which evidently was a big problem after the original apostles were all dead. There were people preaching in the name of Jesus but who were really just trying to spread some other message and using his name to get attention. John says to test if someone's a real preacher or a false prophet (good or evil), there are two things to ask them: the first is, was Jesus a real man, and the answer, of course, should be a resounding "yes!" (because that was kind of the point -- he suffered as a human being suffers through pain and death), he wasn't just an apparition. The other test is to check whether these preachers/prophets follow the 10 commandments and show brotherly love, which is the foundation of all Chrisitianity. If you hate your neighbour you can't possibly love God, John says.

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." -- 1 John 4:11-12

**NEXT: Jude

Monday, November 28, 2011

I & II Peter

Like the Book of James (of Letter of James), the Letters from Peter are open letters written to Christians spread far and wide, to give them guidance in maintaining their faith and how to understand and endure suffering for their beliefs. The letters were written after the apostles (first followers of Jesus) were dead and it started becoming difficult to keep the truth in tact. With false prophets out there trying to corrupt Jesus's message, it was important for Peter and James and the other new disciples to spread what they believed was the truth.

It's in these letters that Peter talks about salvation as like being "born again," to renew one's life after hearing and accepting the teachings of Jesus.

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." -- 1 Peter 1:22-23

Suffering is something Peter talks a lot about as well. To live as a Christian is to set oneself and others to a high standard, being patient, respectful, humble, even if it means suffering and not getting one's way all the time. Christians from the beginning were also persecuted for their beliefs and faith in Christ, and Peter reminds them that to suffer is to follow in Jesus's footsteps and be honoured to share in his work, by serving God.

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps." - 1 Peter 2:21

Peter's second letter focuses on how being a Christian is not a one-time act to be checked off a list and forgotten, but rather a life-long process. Peter urges everyone to be faithful, good, wise, have self-control, perseverence, kindness, and love. (2 Peter 1:5-7) He reminds the new Christians that God will sustain them in their lives if they trust Him, like He did with Noah, whom God saved from drowning because Noah was a good guy.

Finally, Peter ends with the reminder that Jesus would come again, and that while many people were becoming cynical because he hadn't returned yet, despite having been resurrected for many years, God's time is not like ours. For God, Peter says, a thousand years might be like a single day. Peter says we need to be patient, be ready, and in the meantime, "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." -- 2 Peter 3:18

**NEXT: I, II & III John

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The Book of James, a letter written by a guy who may or may not have been Jesus's brother, writes about what it means to live a Chrisitan life. Unlike Hebrews, in which Paul says that faith alone is needed for salvation (because your soul will be saved because of God's grace, which is greater than anything you could possibly do or not do), James talks about how real faith is always manifested in good deeds (because the proof of faith in God and love for Christ is shown through loving others).

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." -- James 2:26

It's important, James says, that a Christian not simply believe in Jesus and what his death on the cross meant for the salvation of humanity, but that if people are to be truly faithful and follow Jesus's teachings, they need to do good works, like look after the poor and needy, and help show others how to be good so they can also come to know God.

I understand all this to mean that while the most important thing is to believe, to have faith in Jesus -- who he was, what he did, etc. and that faith alone is needed to be saved -- a person cannot truly be a Christian, following Jesus fully, unless what is in one's heart (a love of Christ) is made manifest in one's actions (love for others). Jesus embodied, literally became love itself, by sharing in the physical experience of being human; walking among us, sharing our suffering and helping us through his teaching, healing and radical acts of kindness.

How cool is that? You've got God, an abstract entity up there somewhere, being a judgemental and angry Lord, who is separate from his people, down here on earth live in fear and trembling, following his laws as best they can (thanks to Moses for passing on the message), but who have never seen him, have never felt his physical presence, and can't connect with and be part of Him until they die. Then suddenly one day you've got this guy who's totally human, who eats and sleeps and feels pain and who you can talk to, and touch (I wonder how many hugs Jesus gave?) and who completely understands what it's like to be in physical or emotional pain... and who just so happens to be God, too. What a mind-blowing concept!

He showed us how much He cared by becoming one of us and setting us an example of what a perfect person is. It's like He said, this is what I want you to be and do, and then when He saw us scratching our heads, He said, "Okay, here, let me show you."

Jesus bridged the gap between God and humanity, proving God's love for us by allowing Himself to become one of us, sharing fully in our humanity. The best part, of course, was that the Word of God (everything God said through the teachings in the Old Testament, through Moses, Abraham, David, and all the prophets and others) was suddenly manifest in the form of a human being.

Love = Jesus = Love.

Imagine a kid with an ant farm who decides one day to turn himself into an ant and crawl around in the dirt to show the other bugs he cares enough about them to lower himself to their level, and not only that, but allows them to kill him even though it's in his power to squish them all under his thumb. Crazy. Beautiful.

**NEXT: I & II Peter

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Finished reading the Book of Hebrews today. It's longer than the last few letters from Paul, and it's not known for sure, but speculated he didn't write this one.

Hebrews is a reminder of the Old Testament teachings, which were precursors to the life, death and ressurection of Jesus. Hebrews was written at a time when Christian numbers were waning and a reminder was needed of what Jesus did and how Christians should think of him as a priest (not just a prophet) who was/is superior to every priest before him, even Malchizedek, who, especially in the eyes of the Jews, was highly regarded at the time of Abraham.

Most of this book was written to explain how Jesus supercedes the Jewish laws, coming after the writers of the Old Testament to establish a new covenant with God. First, the author notes that for Jews it was/is important to sacrifice the blood of an animal for the atonement of sins. For Christians -- anyone who's willing to believe in Jesus and what he did -- the sacrifice of Christ's blood was enough to wash away humanity's sins once and for all, therefore there need be no more animal sacrifices.

(Side note: living in the 21st century, I am, of course, rather biased, but I like this message not only for the supreme hope it gives, but for the attitude towards less violence and killing of other creatures.)

Second, Jesus's superiority should be accepted above all other priests, and even above angels, who, while Jesus was incarnate (walking the earth in a human body), were superior to him, without sin.

Third, the covenant God had with his people was renewed with the death and ressurection of Jesus. With this act, Jesus removed the barrier of fear and shame in sinful ways for God's people who could now come to have a personal and direct relationship with God through his Son.

Finally, having full faith in Jesus is tantamount to being a Christian, and there are many examples of folks in the Old Testament who through faith were able to achieve amazing things and endure incredible suffering (think lions, pits of fire, torture, stonings, poverty, etc.).

The author of this book doesn't say, however, that faith is easy or that being a Christian doesn't take discipline and perserverence. There's a lot of work that's needed, physically, mentally and emotionally, but with faith and love for God and each other, the rewards are endless and eternal, as the author suggests. Anything worth doing is difficult, and being a Christian is very hard.

Be always aware of the moment, what you do and think and say, because in the end, God will judge everything and everyone throughout time. While this may sound harsh and scary, it is said with an undertone of hope and a message of encouragement:

"Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." -- Hebrews 13:1-2

I can't help but feel jazzed about reading the Bible these days. It's powerful stuff!

**NEXT: James

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Paul's final letter is a very short one to a guy named Philemon who's slave had run away. The slave, Onesimus, had run into Paul (perhaps in prison?) and Paul had converted him to Christianty. In that time, slaves who ran away could be punished by death, but Paul suggests that Philemon not kill his slave who has returned but have mercy on him and accept him as a brother in Christ.

Since we don't know how Philemon received the letter, I guess we don't know if Onesimus is saved, but I think it's a good guess to say he was accepted as a fellow Christian and not punished. A nice little tale of forgiveness and conversion.

**NEXT: Hebrews

Monday, November 21, 2011


Paul's letter to Titus is a short epistle telling Titus (ordained as the first bishop of the Church of the Cretians) how to pick good leaders. Faithfulness to the Gospel is especially important, says Paul, because the Cretians are a bunch of lazy, lying no-gooders. (Titus 1:6-9, 2:1-5) Paul says Christians should live by a high standard, being obediant to their rulers, peaceful, and avoiding arguments about the law. He also recommends a "third strike" for troublemakers who refused to listen and therefore should be shunned by other Christians.

"A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." -- Titus 3:10-11

Hmn, really? Should a good Christian ever give up on someone? I don't know how I feel about that idea. What about the whole "do not judge lest ye be judged," and "who will cast the first stone" philosophy?

**NEXT: Philemon

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I & II Timothy

Paul's two letters to Timothy are quite powerful. It's amazing how the writing itself, the choice and cadence of words can make such a difference in sending a message.

"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." -- I Timothy 6:7

Or how about this one:

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word..." -- II Timothy 4:1-2

Paul's letters are addressed to this guy, Timothy, a young apostle to whom Paul is kind of a father/mentor. Paul writes from prison, a dungeon, actually, and the second letter to Timothy is written not long before Paul is beheaded. The letters are essentially instructions and encouragement on how to be a good Christian leader. They're also personal letters, in which Paul gives Tim some advice about taking a little bit of wine for his stomach troubles, and tells him about his own troubles, but even in those he talks of hope. Paul knows he's in deep *%$ having been arrested and held for preaching the gospel against the law, especially now that so many of his fellow evangelizers have fled and abandoned the work (this is probably why, of all biblical names today, no one is called Demas, Crecens or Titus, and so many are called Luke). Despite being hated and imprisoned and knowing he may soon be executed, Paul writes about feeling confident in having done all he could for God in this life:

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." -- II Timothy 4:6-8

**NEXT: Titus

Friday, November 18, 2011

I & II Thessalonians

Paul wrote a couple of letters to the Thessalonians, people who'd been converted to Christianity only a few months before. (These are a couple of the earliest works in the New Testament.) Paul had been run out of town (Thessalonia) because there was a lot of opposition, mostly from Jews who were resentful of Paul's stealing members away to become Christians. Despite the protests, Paul managed to convert enough people to join the Christian church, which he hears about from Timothy who'd been there after him.

Anyway, so Paul writes to these new Christians saying hooray for following Jesus, and tells them they can expect a great reward when He comes again.

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." -- I Thessalonians 4:16-18

Like a thief in the night, Paul says Christ will come again (5:2), which means they should be joyful, but also vigilant in following the teachings of the gospel and be good Christians all the time. Paul emphasizes the need to work hard, pray often and be thankful to God. In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul continues this theme, telling these people Jesus will come again to judge sinners, but more importantly, to save believers.

"But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil." -- II Thessalonians 3:3

Not much to comment on this book, since it's rather straight forward and nothing in it seems particularly surprising considering what I've read so far of Paul's letters. Well, except for the idea that Jesus/God will come again suddenly in the night. I don't know if I would have felt that was entirely something to be joyful about, if I were a Thessalonian. Anyone who sneaks up on me tends to scare me, which I'd say is pretty natural. And if it were Jesus, I'd want to be ready. I guess that's the point. If I feel I'm not ready, I should work on being ready all the time... Hmn... point taken.

**NEXT: I & II Timothy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Paul's letter to the Colossians is pretty short; just four chapters. Paul wrote to these guys because they were falling off the Jesus bandwagon and starting to follow some Gnostic teachings, like angel worship. Paul reminds them that whatever they do, the Colossians should act for God, and not to impress others.

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." -- Colossians 3:23-24

**NEXT: I & II Thessalonians

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Paul's letter to the Philippians is a thank-you letter of sorts. While in prison, Paul gets a visit from this dude from the church in Philippi who brings him money and offers to stay with him to be of any help he can. Unfortunately, the guy (Epaphroditus) gets sick when he gets there so Paul sends him back right away, but with this letter.

"Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice!" -- Philippians 4:4

This epistle is probably the most joyful of them all. It's short, and sort of informal, but in it Paul writes of thanks and gratitude and mentions how he is incredibly happy and honoured to be able to suffer for the cause of Christ. He's in prison, but he feels he is making a difference, preaching the gospel even to the prison wardens, who can't help but spread the Word of God themselves. If he lives, Paul will get to do more work for the church, and if he dies, he'll get to be with Christ that much sooner. Either way, life is good for Paul the Apostle. His advice to the people of Philippi is to also be joyful, trusting in God, knowing that to suffer means to share in the experience and life of Christ and understanding that there's nothing Jesus cannot do through those who believe in him.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -- Philippians 4:13

**NEXT: Colossians

Monday, November 14, 2011


Paul's letter to the Ephesians was very likely not written by Paul, but it's to him this book is attributed.
As per the previous letters from Paul, this epistle is all about telling the recipients what's what in terms of Christian living.

1. Be humble, gentle, and patient with each other (4:2)
2. Quit lying and start telling the truth (4:25)
3. Work for a living instead of stealing (4:28)
4. Replace bitterness, wrath, brawling, slander, and all malice with kindness and compassion (4:31 - 32)

There's more, but that's a sample. One of the main messages is that all benefits we receive in this life are by the grace of God, not earned or deserved, but simply given to us out of His love.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." -- Ephesians 2:8-10

This book also highlights the analogy of Jesus being the cornerstone of the church, and how people in different relationships should treat each other. For example, wives should obey their husbands, and husbands should love their wives as Jesus loves them, and slaves should obey their masters while masters should treat their slaves with respect. We have to remember the context and time in which this letter was written, of course, because Paul isn't saying slavery is a good thing, or that women should be subjugated by men; he was simply giving advice based on what was the current reality of his day and his time.

**NEXT: Philippians

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Paul's letter to the Galatians could be called the Christian Declaration of Independence, as Cliffs Notes points out. It's all about Paul telling the Galatians (in an area north of modern Turkey) they shouldn't listen to the Jewish infiltrating notion of living up to the law only, that it's more important to live up to the spirit of Christianity. Loving each other is more important that just focusing on the rules. The spirit of the law, rather than the letter of law.

Galatians could also be called the Book of Circumcision. Paul goes on at length about how God doesn't judge a person by his/her external self, but by his/her spirit, or character, and Christians therefore shouldn't worry about getting circumcised.

**NEXT: Ephesians

Friday, November 11, 2011

50/100 on hold

So I haven't done a single sit-up or push-up for about two weeks. I've crapped out for now on the 50 push-ups/100 sit-ups goal and therefore taken it off my "Currently Working On" list. No excuse, it's just not fun in any way. At all. I'll get back to it later.

My back is killing me as I haven't been running regularly since the marathon, and I know the cure is regular exercise... but I have no establied routine. Yoga would probably be the best, but having no grand yoga goal to attain, it's very hard to stay motivated. OMG, I've become one of those people who does nothing unless it's related to her bucket list!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I & II Corinthians

Corinthians could be called the book of love. It espouses the teachings of Jesus as the way to eternal life, and reminds church members of the right way to live, but mostly emphasizes the need to "love thy neighbour" as the most important action of all.

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three. But the greatest of these is charity." -- I Corinthians 13:13

In the King James Version, the word 'charity' means love, which is agape love, not romantic love. We're not meant to love just one person, bringing them flowers and showering them with affection. Agape, meaning divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing love of God for mankind and of mankind for each other, is the kind of love we are to have for everyone.

Jesus was the physical embodiment of love in action, and to follow him and his teachings means to work at becoming like him, by showing love to others. It's so challenging, yet so simple. You don't need to be a brainiac to get Christianity at its foundation. Just love. That's it. Everything else will follow.

Like Romans, I & II Corinthians are letters written by Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to a church that was failing to live up to its goals and standards. The church at Corinth was getting out of line because it was starting to become influenced by the morally corrupt. The Greeks had 1,000 prostitutes working at a temple, which some of the Christians were getting to know a little too well.

Paul wrote his letters (three, actually, one in I Corinthians, and two in II Corinthians) to the church at Corinth to tell them what was what in terms of Jesus's teachings. He managed to set them right, back on course, but it wasn't without difficulty. Some of the church leaders were arrogant and said he wasn't worth listening to, but he kept writing back, defending himself and reminding them that if they are to follow anyone, and to trust anyone, it should be the original leader; Jesus himself. Eventually, they listened, and since his letters were so powerful and influential, they've become part of the New Testament. I Corinthians chapter 13 is probably the most repeated chapter in the bible. Anyone who's been to a Christian wedding knows this one. "Love is patient, love is kind..." it's almost a cliche.

Some criticism:

I don't particularly like the fact that Paul is a total misogynist, stating bluntly that women shouldn't speak in church, but ask their husbands when they get home if they have any questions. Seriously, Paul, what the heck? In doing a bit of research, my understand is that he meant prostitutes shouldn't speak their mind because they'll lead people astray, but this doesn't make sense to me. What about morally corrupt men?

Also, Paul tells the Corinthians they should weed out the morally corrupt from among them and push them out of the church because, like yeast, they will infiltrate and negatively influence everyone with their bad behaviour. Doesn't this fly in the face of what Jesus preached when he told the townspeople to cast the first stone at the adulterous woman? If we cast out the "bad folks" from our churches there'd be no one left. And who will cast the first stone? Are we not fully aware that no one is perfect? And should we not accept ESPECIALLY those who are imperfect into a church with open arms, since that's the very place they'll be influenced to good rather than continue down their crooked path? If not within the church, then where will those who need help get it from well-intentioned Christians? This seems like such hypocrisy to me. More investigation and understanding needed on this one. In the meantime, I'm onto to Galatians and the rest of Paul's much shorter letters.

**NEXT: Galatians

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Juggling Demo 2

So far, the best I can do is about 20 seconds. I'd like to be able to keep three balls in the air for at least three minutes, but maybe that's going too far. What constitutes being able to juggle? Am I there?

Monday, October 31, 2011


The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans is a letter written by Paul -- the guy who had the miraculous conversion to Christianity -- to the Romans, whom he was urging to follow Jesus Christ's teachings - the gospels.

Romans is beautifully written, with a message of hope for all, Jews, Gentiles, anyone in the world who is willing to hear the Word of God. Paul's main message in much of this book is that it is more important to follow the laws of God in one's heart rather than simply follow the "rules" in order to be a good Christian and come to understand God/Christ in eternal life. Belief in Jesus as God incarnate is essential, says Paul. And to love Jesus, we have to love one another.

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." -- Romans 12:21

I think this is beautiful. Evilness itself cannot be overcome without the essential act of goodness, just as the only way out of darkness is into light.

Having studied moral philosophy, I'd like to delve much deeper into the New Testament, especially Romans, to pull out the bare essentials of what Paul was preaching. There is so much to what Jesus taught, and I've barely scratched the surface in reading the Bible for the first time. When I get to the end of Revelation I think that will just be the beginning of my Bible studying. I want to REALLY understand what Jesus said.

**NEXT: I & II Corinthians

Friday, October 28, 2011


Finished the Book of Acts tonight. To sum up, it's basically a narrative about the early Church and what the 12 Apostles did to spread the gospel of Jesus. One of the main elements is how Saul the bad Roman became Paul the good Christian. (I can't help but wonder if Tolkien drew his inspiration for Smeagol/Gollum from this book...)

Acts was written by Luke the Evangelist, aka, the author of the gospel of Luke.

A quick summary: the Apostles elect Mattias to replace Judas (who hanged himself for betraying Jesus) and the Holy Spirit descends on the Twelve who suddenly have the ability to "speak in tongues" and talk to large groups of people wherever they go in their own language, thereby more easily spreading the Word of God. By preaching the story of Jesus, as well as performing miracles (like casting out evil spirits, raising the dead, etc.), the Apostles manage to convert thousands to Christianity wherever they go. But then their numbers grow too big, the authorities freak out, and Christians start getting persecuted. Stephen, accused of blasphemy, is stoned to death, thus becoming the first Christian martyr.
After a while, even the Gentiles (non-Jews) start converting to Christianity. The second half of Acts is devoted to Saul/Paul's story of conversion and mission to spread the gospel. He's loving his role as a persecutor of the new Christians, but then one day is struck blind by a light from heaven and a voice from Jesus asking him why he's persecuting Him (Jesus). Saul is told to go and preach about Jesus, and he makes a sudden conversion when he's given his sight back a few days later -- with scales falling from his eyes, he sees as though for the first time -- and he begins his new life as Paul, one of the most influential Christians ever.

One of the main themes of Acts is the universality of Christianity. Anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to join the church and become of follower of Christ.

**NEXT: Romans

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Juggling demo

This is where I am so far. Maybe I've plateaued, or maybe I just need to keep practising. 
Any advice is appreciated, all you clowns out there!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weak abs/small arms

Last night I had my last session with my personal trainer at Innovative Fitness. I asked her to show me how to do a proper push-up and a proper sit-up and give me some advice on how to generally develop a kick-ass upper body. Right now I look more like Grover (think long, thin, weak arms) than G.I. Jane. I'd like to feel strong all over, not just in my legs. I'd like to know I can bench press more than just the bar, and that I can have abs that are functional and not just for show.

So she put me through the ringer in a one-hour workout as usual, and I realized I can do a push-up or two, but nowhere near 50... yet... and as for sit-ups, well, let's just say there's a reason my hip flexors are so tight. They've been doing all the work. So I'm going to start small by sticking my feet under my dresser while I do one or two sit-ups a day. I'm also going to do "girly" half-push-ups (knees on the ground) until I can do 50 of those before I move on to the real thing.

It's a big goal, and I'm way far off, but I've started and I don't want to turn back. I will prevail! Prevalence is mine!

Goal: 50 "girly" push-ups and one genuine sit-up by Nov. 30.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#2 - Marathon Completed

Pavel and me with medals.

(Left to right: my brother, my mom, me, my dad.)
As I crossed the finish line this afternoon at the Royal Victoria Marathon (4:39:38) (check it out on YouTube, scroll to 5:53:21), my brother called my name and asked me how I felt. "Like I just ran a marathon," I said, and that was the truth.

I hardly know how to describe the feeling of getting to the end of 42.2 km (26.2 miles) and finally being able to stop pounding the pavement. It wasn't exactly what I'd expected it to be. It hurt so much. I almost cried at 34 km. Almost.

Like any race, it started well. It was a gorgeous sunny autumn day here in Victoria, and my brother and I were in good spirits this morning. As we crossed the start line I told him to go on ahead of me because he's fast. I had my MP3 player with a good two hours of inspiring tunes (everything from Beyonce to Josh Groban) to keep me company and the first half (21.1) was a piece of cake. I cheered out loud as I crossed the halfway mark. If that had been it, I'd have been ecstatic, because I got a PR for the half, coming in at 1:58.

But then things turned ugly. Well, just painful. At the 23 km mark, I started to feel my quads seize up, and they just got tighter and tighter until at around 28 km I started to wonder if I'd have to stop. I ate the banana I'd been holding in my sweaty hand, but it didn't help. It was a really awful feeling, both physically and emotionally. Though I didn't really have any kind of goal for the race, I knew I wanted to complete it and not walk any of the course (which I managed to accomplish), but I secretly hoped to run a sub-four marathon. My brother Pavel managed to finish in 4:03, which is fantastic, especially since we clearly didn't put in enough training. I hadn't run in three weeks, and yesterday and this morning I woke up with a headache and a sore throat.

Anyway, I did have to pause for a few seconds a couple of times to do the classic bend at the waist, hands on knees, grimacing with head hanging in defeat. But I soldiered on, despite wondering if I was irreparably damaging the blood vessels in my lower legs. (I'm sure the veins would explode right now if not for the fact that I'm siting with my feet up and in compression socks.) From 28 km to 40 km I basically just plodded along in pain. Screaming, wrenching, awful, indescribable burning pain from my hips to my ankles.

Fake it till you make it.
Truth: a marathon is not just double a half-marathon. It's a half marathon immediately followed by another two hours of totally masochistic torture. Can you believe runners pay a lot of money to voluntarily end up on the couch icing their knees and popping Ibuprofen for the rest of race day? And all I got was this lousy T-shirt... Actually the shirts are pretty bitchin' this year. The medal's nothing outstanding as far as medals go, but hey, it says "marathon" on it, so that's all I need.

By the time I got to the 39 km sign, trying to enjoy the amazing views of the ocean as I plodded along, I was wondering why God had forsaken me (well, not really, but I did have to seriously contemplate Jesus on the cross to motivate myself to keep going) and then I saw my parents and family friends on the sidewalk, with cameras and cowbells. My mom ran next to me for about a kilometer (ringing the cow bell until I had to tell her I couldn't take it anymore) and then the sign for the final mile came into view around the bend and I picked up my head and straightened my shoulders and picked it up again. And then I saw the finish. And like in all my best running fantasies, there was a crowd on either side of the fence, cheering and yelling and clapping... for me. I thought, well, there are two people ahead of me in this final 100 meters and they're walking... so I'd better put on a show for the people. So I furrowed my brow, pursed my lips, and leaned into a sprint, my arms pumping and Lady Gaga reminding me I was on the edge of glory.

And then... KATHRINE SWITZER gave me a hug!!! The first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967 (despite women not being allowed to participate until 1972) was at the finish line of the Victoria Marathon today congratulating women on running... and she hugged me! (Or maybe I hugged her in my shock and admiration, but she didn't seem to mind either way.) The only thing I could think to say was, "Kathrine Switzer!" and she said, "Haha, yes!" to which I replied, "Thank you!" and then walked away in a daze. (For those who don't run, just imagine Sydney Crosby surprising you with a high five after your recreational hockey game.) Very cool.

I don't know if I'll do another marathon again, being able to cross this off my list but I -- oh, who am I kidding? I've got to try to beat my time... 4:40 just isn't good enough, and I know with better training I could do a sub-four. And I don't want to do any plodding next time. Just a strong, steady race.

What a day. What a run.

Friday, October 7, 2011


The best known verse in the entire Bible:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -- John 3:16

John is the fourth and final gospel, written later than the other three, and focusing more on Jesus as the Word of God and less on the miracles He performed and some of the details of his life the other gospels include. I like this one best of all. The man, Jesus, is most apparent as a person to whom I think anyone can relate and understand best, if understood in reading this book.

Along with the Bible, I'm also reading a book right now that my brother lent me called The Holy Longing, by Ronald Rolheiser. The author talks about how Jesus is literally the Word of God,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." -- John 1:1

which is the meaning of the word incarnation, "in flesh" -- I'm inspired by the idea that not only should we strive to be more like Jesus, but that we CAN be more like him, by literally embodying his Word, which means, literally embodying him. When Jesus said to his followers, eat my body, he meant don't just undertand His words intellectually... take them into your very being and don't just TELL, but SHOW the world the Word of God through your physical self, your actions, your very existance.

"Preach the word of God wherever you go, even use words, if necessary." -- Francis of Assisi

**NEXT: Acts

Friday, September 30, 2011


Finished reading the Gospel of Luke today. It's the longest of the gospels, and, I think, my favourite, because it emphasizes Jesus's mercy and includes the parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, which the others leave out. This book is filled with stories of Jesus's life and teachings, as well as an account of his birth and youth, his baptism by John the Baptist, and his ministry and crucifixion.

There is so much in each gospel, it's hard to know what and how to summarize. One of the most important elements, as far as I can tell, though, is that Jesus is often asked what mankind should do to live righteously. To attain eternal life, Jesus says the most important thing to do is:

"Love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." -- Luke 10:27

This is obviously very important, because it is repeated more than once in this and the other gospels. Love God above all, and treat others as you would want them to treat you. So simple to understand, and yet so difficult to do.

**NEXT: John

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


1. Excessive pride or self-confidence.
2. (in Greek tragedy) Excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

I've been bragging the last couple of weeks about not being sick even a once this entire year... and now it's come back to bite me. This morning I woke up with a splitting headache and a sore throat so I haven't been for a run. And I skipped the 20 km workout on Sunday, opting to sleep in instead. Now I'm worried I'll be underprepared for the marathon, which is in 12 days. Hopefully it's nothing extra sleep and Cold FX can't take care of before the big day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Three balls, 15 minutes

Every day for the past couple of weeks I've been setting my alarm for 15 minutes and practising tossing three balls in the air. I'm getting better. I can keep them going for up to 20 seconds now, but then I always end up throwing one too far in front of me and then the rhythm is broken. More practice time needed. Like, 10,000 more hours of practice. I want to eventually be able to juggle knives on fire while blindfolded.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Finished the Gospel of Mark this morning after breakfast. Mark is the shortest of the gospels, but it's still a lengthy 16 chapters. According to Cliffnotes, it's the oldest and therefore most reliable, or accurate account of the life of Jesus, from which the other three borrow heavily. One interesting point to make about Mark is that it leaves out any account of his birth or youth. This book begins with his baptism by John the Baptist, and ends with his crucifixion.

There are many well-known stories about and by Jesus in Mark, but one I wasn't familiar with before I read it, is that of the fig tree. It's something like this: Jesus and his disciples are travelling, spreading the Word of God, and they're hungry. Jesus sees a fig tree in the distance but when he gets to it finds it bears no fruit. So he curses it, saying out loud, "May you never bear fruit ever again." And by the next day the whole tree had shrivelled and died. So I'm thinking, what's the moral here? I don't exactly get the point of this one. Or is this just an account of Jesus losing his temper? Did he ever have moments of being "merely" human and just losing, it like any of us would do? Though it's pretty well understood that he was purely good, purely without sin, was he ever petty? Was he ever in a mood? There were many people who met him and didn't recognize him as the Son of God.

Here's another interesting thing to note about Mark, which makes it different from the other three gospels. The last twelve chapters of the book as they are now were not part of the first manuscript. As the original manuscript was lost, and in fact broke off mid-sentence, the last part had to be filled in by someone else at a later date. Who knows what the original ending was? We can only assume it's close to the first copy, but I'm sure any theologian would be pretty stoked to see the original. 

**NEXT: Luke

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For anyone who is totally unfamiliar with the Bible, the first four books of the New Testament are called the gospels ("gospel" meaning "good news"), and they were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They basically summarize the life of Jesus from birth to death.

The New Testament, beginning with Matthew, picks up about 400 years after the Old Testatment leaves off the story of the Isrealites, who had been struggling under one oppressive ruler after another. When Jesus enters the picture, the Jews are living under Roman rule, which wasn't totally bad, but wasn't too great either because the Romans were not God-fearing men. They preferred to revere Zeus and other Greek gods.

I've heard the stories from the New Testament many times in Church, but it's interesting to read them on my own, directly in the Bible. I'd never done that before. The story of Jesus, whether one believes it to be the truth or just a fairytale, is a riveting read. If I'd never heard of Jesus and had just randomly picked up this book called the Bible and flipped to Matthew, I would have been hooked. It really is a page turner, filled with stories within stories, intrigue, miracles, life lessons, high drama and inspiring quotes. It's history and religion and literature wrapped into one. I'm a fan.

Of course, I'm not sure I understand it all, what all the parables are about and what I believe is history and what is story (the gospels were written long after Jesus died, and by humans, who are, after all, fallible), but I'm glad to be getting it straight from the source. Whatever one believes, I think it has to be conceded that Jesus was a pretty cool guy.

**NEXT: Mark

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Final Long Run (31 km)

SO happy today -- the final long run for marathon training is over! Three laps (31 km) around Burnaby Lake today (2:57) and now it's all downhill from here. As I write this I'm sitting in sweat pants, wearing knee-high compression socks, trying to ignore the aching in my hips and knees. It just freaking hurts. AND, it takes up so much time, all this running. There's no way to get around the time committment of training for a marathon. And all the hunger. I'm so hungry all the time. I could eat dog food right now, I'm just starving.

Anyway, next week it'll be 21 km, the next, 11 km, and then it's race weekend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cross Training - Grouse Grind

Hiked the Grind this afternoon in 51:21, which is a personal best. I read an article that says hiking is good cross-training for running, which I believe, 'cause this was killer. I was panting like crazy and huge splashes of sweat were dropping off me the whole way up. Next time I've just got to remember not to wear a heavy backpack and I'm sure I'll be able to shave off another minute at least!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Post-run fast food

Mediocre run this evening. Meant to do two laps at Mundy Park, but only got through one before I felt heavy and kinda sick to my stomach, so I ran home... and THEN suddenly felt RAVENOUS so I went out and got a big, greasy bag of buger, onion rings and a Coke from A&W. Now I feel awesome. Not physically awesome, granted, but definitely mentally awesome. Yay for fast food, post-run. Never in my life have I felt more justified in eating so many calories in one sitting. These days I don't think food spends any time hanging out in my stomach, it just gets sucked straight into my starving brain and limbs. A little marathon training will go a long way to increasing appetite and enjoyment of food, lemme tell ya.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Old Testament

Finished the Old Testament today, ending with the final 12 "minor prophets." After the Big Four (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), you have:

1. Hosea
2. Joel
3. Amos
4. Obadiah
5. Jonah
6. Micah
7. Nahum
8. Habakkuk
9. Zephaniah
10. Haggai
11. Zechariah
12. Malachi

So these guys pretty much all had the same thing to prophesy about: God's gonna get mad if you don't smarten up. Well, technically, I know you ain't gonna smarten up, and He's gonna get mad regardless, but you should still make an effort 'cause He's forgiving.

"And prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." -- Malachi 3:10

My favourite prophet, and probably the most famous, is Jonah, as in Jonah and the Whale. The guy gets swallowed by a "big fish" for trying to shirk his prophetic duties, and then gets vomited out by the fish onto the shore because Jonah repented, praying for days inside the belly of the beast. I have no idea how anyone can take this story seriously, but supposedly Jesus later speaks of it like it's fact. Not sure what to make of this, but anyway, a great story, no doubt.

All told, the Old Testament took me almost 10 months of almost daily reading. It's a very long collection of historical, wisdom and prophetic books written by several different people over a long period in history around what is today known as the Middle East.

There is SO much that can be said about the Old Testament, and it depends from what context you read it (religious, scholarly, historical, etc.), and I've learned A LOT. The Old Testament is by far the majority of the Bible -- about three quarters of the whole book -- and I've realized the books can pretty much be read in any order, because they're not chronological. Oh, and one other thing I noted as I was reading through the many books, was the use of the word "selah," which I've learned is a Hebrew word without a good translation, but which means something like "stop and think of that." Maybe kind of like "Amen"? Anyway...

I am eagerly now awaiting the story of Jesus in the New Testament.

**NEXT: Matthew

Thursday, September 8, 2011

1984 Women's Olympic Marathon

 Los Angeles, 1984.
Women were allowed to compete in the Olympic marathon event for the first time. American Joan Benoit won Gold, but the best finish was from the Swiss runner, Gabrielle Andersen-Scheiss who came in 37th place with the most inspiring finish ever seen.

Personal Training

Running up a hill past a group of fairly overweight folks this afternoon, I overheard a woman among them with a thick Dutch accent remark as she turned to watch me pass, "Uphill... My God!"

It was a hot late summer afternoon, yes, and it was uphill, sure, but it wasn't until I heard that comment that I truly felt like a superstar. Sometimes people will say things that give you rocket fuel for the final lap, without them even intending it to be so motivating. So a shout out to my new Dutch fan. Thanks, lady.

Today I also signed up for some weekly personal training at Innovative Fitness in Port Moody. My first session will be tomorrow and every Friday after that till race day. I need to work on core strength, flexibility and overall conditioning. I'm hoping with the cross-training at the gym I'll be able to run faster and with better form, thereby getting a good time and, more importantly, avoiding an injury. My hip flexors have been strained the last couple of long weekend runs, so I it's time to bring in the pros for some expert advice. Plus, it's just cool to be able to say I have a personal trainer. "Yeah, sorry, but I'm going to have to cut our coffee date short... I have to go see my personal trainer to shred my quads and whale on my abs. At the gym. With my personal trainer."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Long Run (31 km)

To use the vernacular of teenagers everywhere, OMG and WTF.

Three laps around Burnaby Lake is 31.8 km. Just over three hours of running. Ouch. Very ouch. The final lap I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish but I realized the pain had plateaued, and at a certain point, as long as you're not damaging yourself, does it really matter how much your quads, hamstrings and hip joints cry out in agony? Just keep going, put Lynyrd Skynyrd on repeat, and finish it. That's all you can do. Oh, and drink a lot of water and pop energy candy things (my brother calls them snotballs). 

Just five weeks to go till marathon race day. I can't wait till it's over....

Friday, September 2, 2011


"Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words." -- Daniel, 10:12

Those are the words of the angel Michael, one of only two angels who are mentioned by name in the whole Bible. The other is Gabriel, who also happens to make his appearance in the Book of Daniel.

I finished reading Daniel today, and was quite moved by this one, especially in contrast to the previous prophets, Jeremaiah and Ezekiel. The Book of Daniel is actually a work of encouragement to those who are righteous among the Jews, who follow their God despite persecution from the ruling Babylonian king. The book is basically written in two parts; the first is a series of stories about hardships facing the Jews, and the second about the series of visions Daniel has predicting future events.

[One thing I'm still confused about, even with the help of Idiot's Guide to the Bible, and Cliff Notes, is when the Isrealites became known as Hebrews and then Jews.]

Daniel is considered an apocalyptic text, part of the wisdom literature, but is included in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. As noted in the Cliff Notes, this placement is perhaps erroneous. Unlike with the other prophets, who lament their people's sins and try to get them to be good, warning of coming punishment, Daniel warns of coming suffering that will happen regardless of what the Jews do or don't do.

Ironically, I found this book to be more uplifting and hopeful in the larger context of the Old Testament because of the message of hope for those who trust in, and obey God. The end may be nigh, but those who are righteous will be saved. In the most famous example among the parables in Daniel, he is thrown to the lions for worshipping his God, but the next morning the king finds him unharmed and realizes his God has saved him. In the end, king Darius tells everyone they must worship Daniel's God because He is awesome.

"I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion that be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." -- Daniel 6:26-27

**NEXT: the minor prophets

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Finished Ezekiel yesterday. This is another prophet who prophesies doom and gloom for the Isrealites. He wrote his book after his people were captured and carted off to Babylon, himself included. Ezekiel is a guy who, by today's standards, would probably be considered crazy because he had all kinds of visions. The most amazing one is that in which he sees the rise of the Jews after their death, starting with their bones rising up and becoming covered in flesh and skin and then having the breath of life breathed back into them by God.

The best way to sum up the book, I'd say, is with the often repeated line, "Then you will know that I am the Lord," after Ezekiel describes some terrible catastrophe that will befall those in Jerusalem for their sins.

It's another long-ish book, filled with visions and a few chapters that repeat ad nauseum the exact measurements of the temple once it will be restored.

**NEXT: Daniel

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Long Run (27 km)

Ran almost three laps around Burnaby Lake this morning for a total of 27 km. Took almost three hours. That's the farthest I've ever run.

Actually, it was 21 km of running, 7 km of pain. I can only assume I was running by the end because I made it back to my car, but it didn't feel like running should. My left hip flexor hates me today. Long distance hurts. It really does. Every fibre of my body was telling me to stop the madness. Even now, a cold bath, some good stretching and two cups of chocolate milk later, I still hurt. Even wearing compression socks and sitting with my feet up.

[Side note: compression socks aren't actually going to make a difference to your race, but they're a good idea for after the run, to help your circulation and prevent vein problems. Or maybe it's just a fad, but I got a pair for Christmas last year, so I'm trying them out.]

Here's my question: How do people run such distances without their legs falling apart? I wasn't going very fast by the last half lap, but I felt like I was killing my quads. To get in the training to be able to go 42.2 km I HAVE to be able to run at least 35 km within the next month, but the thought of that distance right now makes me want to cry. Besides cross-training to build up leg strength (and hip flexors), I don't really know what else to do besides run. Because unless I missed a memo, that's the only way to train for a marathon.

Even when it hurts.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running = Ugly Feet

If you train for a marathon, don't bother getting a pedicure till it's all over.

My feet are taking a real beating, running long distances. There are blisters at the tips of my toes and one of my nails has turned light gray. I've heard of this happening, but I never thought it would happen to me. I bought new runners and I just got my orthotics refurbished and I wear synthetic socks. So what the heck? It's pretty gross. But kind of cool at the same time, right?

Monday, August 22, 2011


The Lamentations of Jeremaiah is kind of an extension of the Book of Jeremaiah. It's like the epilogue, in five chapters.

After Jerusalem and the holy temple are destroyed in the 6th Century, BCE, Jeremaiah takes off to a cave outside Damascus and writes this poetic lament for the city and its people. "My sighs are many, and my heart is faint." -- Lamentations 1:22

Damn those Babylonians. Damn them!

But then, there is hope, in the least likely of places: "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." -- Lamentations 3:21-24

I wasn't expecting Jeremaiah to offer this kind of message. But then again, he ends with this:
"The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim." -- Lamentations 5:15-17

I think Lamentations can be summed up thus: God is very wroth. He will show mercy... but not yet.

**NEXT: Ezekiel

Sunday, August 21, 2011


"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." -- Jeremiah 4:4

Finished the Book of Jeremiah tonight. All 52 very, very long chapters. Basically, the prophet Jeremiah laments the Jews' lack of obedience to God and keeps warning them to smarten up, but they won't listen. Jeremiah warns of fire and pestilence and destruction. Sure enough, the Babylonians wreak havoc on Judah.

Mostly the language was confusing and repetitive and the narrative boring. I really hope the rest of the prophets have more to say and report on. They're all more succinct in their writing, though, their books being much shorter, so at least it won't take as long to read any of the others.

**NEXT: Lamentations

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Finshed the Book of Isaiah today, which, I'd say can be summed up neatly with the line:
"Though meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved." -- Isaiah 64:5

Of the 66 chapters in this book, the vast majority are kind of a downer because they're all about how bad God's people have been, and how they should fear his wrath. I'm sure anyone who might have seen me reading this book would have noted my furrowed brow. It's a very serious, maybe ominous book, in contrast especially to a book like Ecclesiastes, which is so much more light and hopeful. Then again, Isaiah is not without hope, too:

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." -- Isaiah 40:31

"Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." -- Isaiah 60:1

Next is Jeremiah, another fairly long read, at 52 chapters. There are another 15 or so prophets to read before the New Testament, which I am more and more eager to read.

**NEXT: Jeremiah

Monday, August 8, 2011

Long Run (21 km)

Yesterday my brother and I ran two laps around Burnaby Lake (10.6 km X 2) in 1:56 -- faster than my official half-marathon race time (2:06). I'm getting faster.

There was only one problem with yesterday's workout. I started geting stomach/gut cramps around the 3/4 mark, and when I got home I had really bad diarrhea. Really bad. Like, hanging my head over the bathtub in case I puked, bad. And then I lay shivering on the cold tiles beside the toilet until I fell asleep and then woke up an hour later and finally dragged myself to bed. What the hell that was about, I don't know, but I sure hope it was something I ate and not just because of running.

'Cause if running's going to give me the runs, then I'm going to have to find a new sport. So gross. Then again, there's only eight weeks to go till the marathon, so maybe... maybe... it's worth a little tummy trouble.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Training Plan

It's hard to run 32 km when no one's holding you accountable. Not being in a training clinic, I've let myself skip a couple of the long weekend runs, and now I think I need to change my training schedule to make up for it.

My brother came up with a simple plan. We're going to run 10 miles (17 km) this weekend, and keep adding 2 miles each week until two weeks before the race (20 miles, 33 km), and do just two 10 km runs during the week (Tues/Thurs) as base runs. He said it worked for him before when he ran the Washington D.C. Marines Corps Marathon, so I'm going to go with this. There's only 10 weeks to go before race day, and I definitely don't feel like I'm on track, so I'm going to have to step it up.

It really is more difficult to train on my own than with a club. But if I just put in the time, I should get there. At this point I'm just focusing on crossing the finish line, not on making any stellar time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Long Run (1:15)

Met my brother at Burnaby Lake this morning for a run around the trails. It was a good, fast run. I was kind of annoyed he wanted to stop midway for a banana, but then, that's what having a running buddy is all about. Compromising. I stop all the time to pee, so I guess it's only fair. It was hot (we both had slept in and ended up running until around noon) but I had water with me this time. Granted, it was warm, but it went down smooth.

Next Sunday the schedule calls for a three-hour run. Mother of Pearl. I've never run that long ever. Not even close. The longest was 2:15 and that made me feel like a war hero. I half expected someone to hand me a medal when I got back to my car at Stanley Park. Nope. If they were staring it wasn't out of admiration but probably concern for my blotchy purple complexion and pained facial expressions. I don't know how I'm going to get through three hours. And my brother's going to be in Chicago, so it's just me and my own thoughts. Maybe I'll download a book on tape. Maybe War & Peace.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Song of Solomon

Read the Song of Solomon today. If you ask me, it's a bit of a letdown after the awesome Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I don't really understand who's narrating half the time because it seems there's a female and a male narrator who keep switching off, talking about how much they love each other. You'd think there'd be some amazing verses full of gorgeous poetry, but nothing really stood out for me. It's only eight chapters long, though, so at least it doesn't drag like some of the earlier books that go on forever with the whole lineage of Jehosawhathisface thrown in for good measure.

Solomon is one of the less understood books in the Bible. Nobody knows who penned this one. According to Wikipedia it may have been Solomon himself, or some other person or people. Which pretty much means it could have been anyone. Whether it's literally a man and a woman talking, or whether it's supposed to be God and the people of Isreal (Jewish tradition) or Christ and the Church (Christian tradition), or something else entirely, also seems to remain a mystery.

I guess this is where people start arguing about the real meaning of the Bible, when you get to parts like this. Actually, I think it must be really interesting to be a biblical scholar and get to delve into the mysteries of this ancient text. Next is Isaiah. It's another longer one, so I hope it's as good as Proverbs. Not holding my breath though. I don't think I've heard any songs based on this book.

**NEXT: Isaiah

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ecclesiastes, or The Preacher

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." -- Ecclesiastes 3:1

What a beautifully written book Ecclesiastes is. It's from this book Pete Seeger lifted the lyrics to write what became the Byrd's 1965 classic, "Turn, Turn, Turn"... (To everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn...) and it's also where we get the iconic phrases,

"There's nothing new under the sun,"

"The sun also rises,"

"He who increasesth knowledge increaseth sorrow"  (Though this one seems to contradict Proverbs, which is confusing.)

This book is just 12 chapters long, and written by The Preacher, the son of David. The main message is that life is short and then you die and all of mankind's actions are futile, thus we should enjoy life while we have it... party now for tomorrow ye shall perish. Something like that. Then again, there's a lot in Ecclesiastes about being good and working hard and realizing that God is more important that all the passing vanities of life. This book is the Christian self-help book within the Bible, summing up how to live the best life, to the fullest. And in the end, another reminder to keep the Lord in your heart:

"Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." -- Ecclesiastes 12:13

**NEXT: Song of Solomon

Thursday, July 21, 2011


"As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." -- Proverbs 26:11

Quite the analogy! The Book of Proverbs is all about being wise and not an idiot, because idiots will suffer if they don't strive to learn and understand the laws of God. Some other gems:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7

"For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it." -- Proverbs 8:11

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." -- Proverbs 16:18

And I especially feel I have a lot to learn from this one: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty: and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." -- Proverbs 16:32

This book was supposedly written by King Solomon and a few other, lesser known people. It's part of the wisdom literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) in the Bible, a collection of books that teach about how to discover the "tree of life" through a search for understanding. Took me three days to read Proverbs, at about 10 chapters a day. At this rate I should be finished reading the whole Bible by early October.

**NEXT: Ecclesiastes