Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gym regimen - September 2010

28 September 2010
Ur-Workout, 60 mins
91kg, BMI 25.5

0. Warmup: Stretching, curls, flyes, dips, squats

1. Bench press: 12, 9, 6 @ 65kg, 75kg, 85kg

2. Lat pulldown: 12, 9, 6 @ 65kg, 75kg, 85kg

3. Dumbbell curl (per hand): 10, 8, 6 @ 17–27kg
[Something about these weights––as I've written them––seems off. I mean to tell me that I curled 59lb for 6 reps per hand on my last set?! Or, then again, that I curled the equivalent of 54kg for two hands?! I guess dumbbell curls are just easier. Admittedly, I alternated hands, which gave the opposite hand a slight rest every rep. I will have to confirm the weights next time I am at the gym. Maybe I've been using kilograms so long now that I've lost my sense of how many pounds I should be able to do, but 60lb curls sounds, well… either sadly inaccurate or… totally awesome!]

4. Barbell military press (seated): 10, 8, 6 @ 40–45kg

5. Dips: 10, 11, 12

6. Squat: 12, 9, 6 @ 70kg, 77.5kg, 85kg

7. Stiff-leg deadlift (EZ bar): 12, 9, 6 @ 57kg, 67kg, 77kg

+ + +

I went lighter on the bench press today and did dips for my triceps. Dips! Holy tricep, Batman! It was the first time I have done dips in a very long time, so I wasn't sure about my form, and don't even have a recollection of it now, since I just wanted to do what I could on a diagnostic test run. I definitely felt stronger when I crossed my feet and the dips gave me an awesome pump. According to this page, the benefits of dips fall out like so: "Push-ups have your feet planted. Dips move your whole body through space. Dips are harder and thus superior to Push-ups because you have to balance your body. Other benefits of Dips: Build Strength. Dips build lockout strength: straightening your elbows. This helps the Bench Press & the Overhead Press. Build Muscle. Dips will develop your triceps & chest muscles." You can say that again.

I'll work traps and abs tomorrow. I need to sleep better.

Had a great confessor last Sunday. I love the Mass. I love the Mass. I love the Mass!

I've got a good number of posts I hope I can get out in the next few weeks but I've got a lot of teaching hours and I'm collaborating to author an ESL textbook, among other things.

I recently saw Miami Blues and Glengarry Glen Ross, the former which stars Alec Baldwin and the latter which features him in a seven-minute quasi-monologue––and then not again––, for which he nearly won an Oscar. I have a new found respect for Alec Baldwin as a phenomenal actor. A true screen "presence." And very versatile: tender, comical, wounded, sadistic, innocuous.

I also recently got around to watching City of God, the award-winning 2002 Brazilian film about life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. It's a searing depiction of even more searing realities. Well worth more than one viewing. It is the film that Slumdog Millionaire tried to be. (Tried to be, mind you.) The director, Fernando Meirelles, has been likened to Martin Scorsese, and City of God would be an interesting film to watch in conjunction with Mean Streets.

The thought that persists most vividly for me is, "What sense can the Christian Gospel make of the antagonist, Li'l Zé?" He is a sadist from childhood and grows up to become, for a time, the lord of crime in Rio de Janeiro. From that perspective, he is a disturbingly vivid instance of the truth of original sin. On the other hand, I can't fathom what it would be like trying to evangelize and convert someone like him. (I should mention that Li'l Zé is merely one token of a more pervasive type in the favela, which only amplifies my discomfiture.) To say that life is cheap in the favelas is a truism, and to say life is cheap in Li'l Zé's eyes is virtually a tautology. I can't imagine what would move him, on a purely human, psychological level, to repent and pursue anything like a chaste life of humble piety. Warning him of Hell would, I fear, do nothing: he would either say, "Bring it," or simply be unable to imagine a difference between Hell and life as he's known it. Conversely, enticing him with the prospect of Heaven would, I suspect, only fuel his incorrigible lust for power––"What will my take be when we get there, how big will my turf be?"

Hence, I suppose the only "sense" Christianity can make of someone like Li'l Zé, or the only way the Gospel can "handle" the Li'l Zé's of the world is by truly supernatural means. Only the Holy Spirit can, or would, change a heart like Li'l Zé's. Unfortunately, he so consistently hardens his heart against natural goodness––and has been so deeply hardened by life––that it may be just as much an act of God's glory, as a just God, to release Li'l Zé to a perpetual insensibility to supernatural goodness. This is an important truth: if you can't love anything natural, the supernatural has that much less ability to generate divine love in such a craggy heart. If you don't have a natural affection for animals, you lack one step in the ladder that rises to loving the Maker of animals. Perhaps because Li'l Zé insists the world be as bleak and mercenary as he feels it is, he ends up with exactly the world he deserves, that is, the world of his own making. Getting a whole world all to yourself, all by yourself––that is, in a sense, all that the doctrine of Hell means: you get to wallow in your own delusions and fears forever since you chose to wallow in them, and make others wallow with you, before dying.

It dawns on me, of course, that a secular ethic has an even harder time making sense of Li'l Zé, since, on that ethic, life is about maximizing your own human potential without causing inordinate suffering in others. And while Li'l Zé certainly caused plenty of suffering in others, it is arguably impossible to say he caused inordinate suffering, since he instinctively followed a fiercely self-authentic "inner compass" and a socially regulated ethic that can only be judged from within the very milieu in which it functions. To deny the reality of absolute good and evil is to allow for two absurdities: first, that nothing Li'l Zé, or someone like him, does is intrinsically evil, and, second, that there is no truly greater good for which Li'l Zé, or any other person, could live and be called simply good. Goodness resides in an execution of one's will, as the power of affection, to gravitate towards that which is good. If, however, that-which-is-good simpliciter does not exist, there is nothing toward which the will can gravitate in principle, and thus, no one is good. Consequently, if no one is good, no one is bad, and Li'l Zé is not evil or mean or villainous: he's simply amoral in a different way. Which is of course just more bullshit to be shoveled out by secularist ethics.

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