Category Archives: Mysticism

HIIT Parade: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #151

Last week’s T.I. was a double-down.  So this week we’re going to take it down a notch — see below.

This month’s internal focus is The Book, a.k.a the Tarot.  The Tarot is essentially an encyclopedia of symbolism in the form of a deck of cards, a way to train your mind to see the world in terms of story and symbol.  When used as a tool for reflection and psychoanalysis, Tarot is fun and beneficial beyond measure.

Tarot cards are not dangerous and scary unless you use them to tell fortunes.  I’m in seminary, and neither of my bishops see the slightest thing wrong with using Tarot cards to gain insight into oneself or as aids to meditation.  The finest Tarot book ever written was penned by a devout Catholic.  Divination and magic, on the other hand, will get you into hot water.  I advise against it.

Here’s an example of how Tarot can work, using songs instead of Tarot cards.  On the right is a copy of a CD I made for a coworker back in ’07.  Chuck was leaving the company headed for greener pastures, and I said goodbye to him with a CD.   I liked it so much I made a copy for myself.

Give it a listen.  Pretend it’s a concept album and see if you get the story that’s being told by the various tracks.  Here’s the YouTube playlist.

That’s kind of what you do with Tarot cards.  You lay out a spread of cards, look at the pretty pictures and amazing symbols, and see if you can follow the story.

HiIt Parade: Cabal Fang Training Involution #151

A parade is a “succession, series, or display of items.”  The origin of the word parade is the Latin paro which means to prepare, provide, or resolve. 

Let’s do this.

  • Warm up thoroughly — that’s 8 minutes minimum.
  • Cabal Fang Grappling Conditioner #2. Set timer for 3 x 3:00/1:00.  For each 3:00, Splay-n-Punch 1-2, Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4, Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4-5-6, etc. up to Splay-n-Punch 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, then start again.  If you’re not dawdling you should be able to get at least 5 climbs done during every 3:00 round — that’s 25 Sprawls and 150 punches.  For the 1:00 “rests” body-lock a heavy bag and squeeze it as hard as you can.  Take as many 12-count breaks as you must in order keep from upchucking.  Just breathe.  I promise it’ll be over in 12 minutes.
  • Scuffling, grappling and wrestling HIIT. Set a timer to beep every 40 seconds. Whenever it beeps take a 10-second break and then start the next exercise. Cycle through the following 6 times for a total of 16 minutes, each as many as you can for 30 seconds: Smearing Push-ups, Cross-arm Clinch Lunges (maximum cutting power!), Leg Triangles and Splay-n-Punch. See video below for details.  Look familiar?  It should.
  • Tell a story. Shuffle your Tarot cards and deal out nine cards, all face up, in a 3 x 3 square.  Think of them as panels in a comic book of your life — the top row your past, the middle row your present, the bottom row your future.  Come up with a plot that connects the pictures.  Spend some time asking yourself questions about the little story you made up.  Which episodes from your childhood are brought to mind by the first three cards?  Do you know why?  Does the story have a good or bad ending?  What could you do to change it?
  • Record everything you learned in your training journal.  If it ain’t in the journal, it didn’t happen.

Double Trouble: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #150

I’m camping this weekend — heading out tomorrow morning right after I finish leading the free tracking walk I’m doing to promote my Bobcat Martial Arts program — so this week’s T.I. comes out a day early!

As I’ve mentioned many times, I highly recommend doing a double-down day once every four to six weeks or so.  Pick a recent training session that didn’t go well.  Then double it and try to find a way to modify, adapt, overcome and suffer through it.

If you listen to your body and you know your limits, and if you are cautious enough to do this safely, the benefits are out-of-this-world.

Double Trouble: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #150

I don’t know what you’re going to do, because I don’t know what you selected to double!  But here’s what I did.  This took almost exactly 2 hours.

1. Forms.  I spent a full 10 minutes running through the Star of Ishtar, the Fool’s Journey and the new Six-headed Hydra choke form, plus a quick run through a few of my favorite Korean Karate forms.

2. Double weights. Tuesday’s session was weak sauce, so I just about doubled the reps.

  • T-handle Dead Lifts.  #70 @ 2 x 10  as warm-up.  #140 @ 4 x 5 + 1 set to failure (I made 5).  Here’s a beast showing how it’s done.
  • HSPUs.  2 x 10 Jackknife Push-ups to warm up, then 5 sets to failure.  I got 4, 3, 3, 2, 2.
  • Sandbag Shoulder Carry. #95  @ 4 x 50 yards+ 1 set to failure.  50, 50, 50, 50, 24.  Still cruddy, but getting stronger.

3. Ground Fighting Conditioner #1 — twice.  The conditioner so nice you ought to do it twice.  Details here.

4. Weighted Shadowboxing. 10 mins with #2 weights on ankles and #2 dumbbells in hands.  Count your strikes (10-count combos makes it easy to keep track).  I made 520 strikes.

5. Stretching Meditation. Nice relaxing stretch, full 20 minutes, with total focus and body awareness — no linguistic thinking or daydreaming.

Slug Fest: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #149

According to the very nice county police officer who gave me a heads up Thursday night,  there’s a chance we’re going to be run out of the civic association park where we’ve trained since ’09.  We’re okay for now, but “No Trespassing” signs are likely going up soon.

Running is almost always the right answer in a self-defense situation.  But not this time.

Next week I’ll be asking for a zoning variance at the monthly county board of supervisors meeting.  And I’ll also be asking about the future of the park — about the county’s commitment to its upkeep, and so on.  Meetings are video taped and saved on the county website, so video to come.

Slug Fest: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #149

  • 9 mins of slugging.  Warm up thoroughly (at least 8 mins).  Set timer for 1:00 min intervals.  Bang the heavy bag for 1 min as fast and as hard as you can.  Then shadowbox as fast as you can for 1 min.  Then, based on your fitness level, hold a Handstand, Push-up Plank or Elbow Plank for 1 min.  Repeat twice more for a total of 9 mins.  Take as few 12-count breaks as you must in order to finish.
  • Ask Archangel Barachiel for intercession.  Light a white candle and/or burn some incense as an offering to Archangel Barachiel, our guardian angel, and spend a few minutes in silent reflection.  Request he lend his wisdom, guardianship, guidance, care, visitation, and defense to Cabal Fang as we struggle to keep our space.

 

Enduro: Cabal Fang Martial Arts Training Involution #148

In Cabal Fang we generally train for max output over a limited time.  Cabal Fang is a self-defense martial art.  Self-defense situations don’t usually last for more than a minute or so.

But we also want Cabal Fang to be applicable in every day life.  Only cops, medics and soldiers will likely use their martial arts skills more than once or twice in a lifetime.  But if Cabal Fang makes you healthy and strong inside and out, you can apply that in a million different ways, all day every day.  And every day life sometimes will require you to work until you can work no more.

So once in a while we should shake things up and train for distance instead of speed — for length of time instead of for output across a span of time.

Enduro: Cabal Fang Training Involution #148

  • 9 rounds of emergency action.  Only 8 breaks of 12 secs each, one break between each of the 9 rounds. Each round you’ll go until you gas, take a 12 sec. break, then proceed to the next exercise: HBSC (Heavy Bag Shoulder Carry), Up Strikes, Bear Walks, HBSC, Mounted Strikes, Bear Walks, HBSC, Low Kicks, Bear Walks. No pacing or lollygagging on the strikes, but travel at a relaxed pace for the HBSCs and Bear Walks.  8 breaks only.  My time was a fairly pathetic 20:39. Post yours in the comments.  See video below.
  • Internal work for time. Assume your posture of choice and set a countdown timer for one hour.  Practice your choice of contemplation, meditation or prayer as long as you are able — until your mind or body fails you — or until the timer beeps, whichever comes first.  I made my hour.  Did you?
  • If it’s not in your training journal it didn’t happen.  Record all times and all self-realizations in your training journal.

Dog Star: C.F. Martial Arts Training Involution #147

This month’s T.I. is a direct-to-video release.  Dig in.

Escape Plan Revisited: Cabal Fang Training Involution #145

“Escape Plan Drill” a.k.a. “EPD” has been a fitness standard in Cabal Fang Martial Arts for many years, even before making its first appearance almost exactly four years ago.

If you haven’t done it yet, you’re in for a treat.

EPD is A+ because it shrinks to fit.  You can use whatever calisthenics you like based on your needs and/or fitness level.  And, since it’s an “as-many-as-you-can” type of drill, its difficulty increases with the fitness of the user.

This week’s variant uses martial-specific calisthenics.  Dig it.

Escape Plan Revisited: Cabal Fang Training Involution #145

  • Escape Plan Drill. Set timer for 1:00 intervals. Sprint for 1:00, Shadowbox or hit Heavy Bag for 1:00 then complete as many calisthenics reps as you can for 1:00. Repeat 4 more times for a total of 15 mins, taking as few 12-count breaks as you must in order to finish.  Your 5 calisthenics are: Sit-outs, Shots, Sprawls, Bear Walks, and Back Bridge.  On the Back Bridges, hold or pop reps based on fitness level.  This version of EPD could be called “Humility Sandwich.” Try a bite and tell me if I’m wrong about the recipe.
  • Hagakure Meditation.   Escape is not always possible, certainly not in the end.  After cooling down, set countdown timer for 10 mins., then read the paragraph below and meditate as directed.  Seppuku is of course an ancient form of ritual suicide, so this is not to be read literally.  Read metaphorically it contains a wise but very hard teaching.  We are going to die, perhaps even by having to lay down our lives for what we value most highly.  We modern people struggle with these old, hard lessons.  But some things are worth the struggle.

NEXT WEEK…

Are you more fit than a 12-year-old boy circa 1945?  Find out next week in Boy’s Twelve: Training Involution #146!

Mythbusting Anti-Christianity

I’m happy to engage anyone in conversation anytime.  Please click here to schedule a meeting.  I am here to offer pastoral care, intellectual conversation, interviews, and so on.   As an interfaith minister and a seminarian in the Old Catholic line, the alleviation of suffering is my calling, and my duty is to be an apostle.

Unfortunately though, I’m increasingly besieged online by trollsaggressive atheists, and anti-Christians — who attack via social media.  These folks don’t want to engage.  They’re only looking to get a rise out someone, and they only usurp valuable time and energy that I must devote to people and endeavors which sincerely want and need my attention.

So I created this post so that I can refer these people here.  I figure, if he or she is just a troll, this is my escape hatch.  But if, by some chance, he or she is actually inquisitive, this will give him or her food for thought, and a deeper conversation can follow later.

(A) General Questions

My general answer to the question you are asking — regardless of what it is! — is this:

“There is a 99.99% chance that you are not the first person in history to ask your question.  As it happens, there has sprung up an entire field of study known as Philosophy to grapple with questions of the sort you are asking.  There are thousands of books on the subject of Philosophy on the web and at the library.  Maybe you have given your question about twenty minutes of deep thought.  That’s not going to be sufficient to make much progress.  I suggest you avail yourself of available resources.”

Now here are the short answers to some specific questions.

  1. “Why do we need religion?  Why can’t people just be good because it’s the right thing to do?”  Because  people aren’t all that good, and it’s very hard to make them.  There’s an enforcement cost that bogs down society in general and gives birth to totalitarianism.  But you can inspire them to be good by giving them responsibilities.  About 40,000 years ago humans starting working on systems called “religion” to arrive at and assign responsibilities so as to solve this problem.  
  2. “If God is good, why is there evil in the universe?”  This is called the problem of evil.  There are lots of answers to this question.  I like Christianity’s.
  3. “If God created the universe, what created God?”  Depends on who you ask.  In my opinion, the most solid Christian answer is that God is creation itself.  He needs no bootstrap because He is both the Boot and the Strap.
  4. “How is Christianity any better than the silly myths that came before it?” The myths that preceded Christianity were low-resolution pictures of the truth that was coming, kind of like the way the icon of a disc on the desktop of your computer is a low-res representation of the hard drive in your computer.  C. S. Lewis deals with this beautifully.  If you can’t be bothered to read his work, get them as audio books.
  5. “What makes you think you’re so smart?” I don’t.  But I do understand what it’s like to be confused about religion.  I spent most of my adult life as a religionaut and spiritual seeker before finally re-embracing Christianity.  I used to believe most of the anti-Christian myths myself.  This allows me to be calm, polite, and measured.  Anyway, I’m not that smart.  I’m just a guy who made lots of mistakes, wasted a lot of time, and now wants to be a simple priest and alleviate suffering.
  6. “If God is real, why doesn’t He stop ______?”  Fill in the blank with your choice of horrible tragedy, natural disaster or crime, such as death by hurricane or clergy sexual abuse.  God is not responsible for human acts of evil resulting from free will, nor is He  responsible for acts of nature. If people had no agency and there was no nature, the universe would be a giant depressing clockwork — static, rhythm-less and dead.   Thank God it isn’t.  Also see #3 above.

(B) General Christianity Myths

  1. Religions do not cause wars.  Religion has been a factor in less than 7 percent of all wars and in less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare.
  2. Miracles aren’t made up by crazy people. Things we can’t explain happen all the time.  Ask anybody you know and you’ll get dozens of examples of spontaneous healing, freak events, and other improbable “coincidences.”  If one in a million of them is “real,” there have been millions of miracles.  C. S. Lewis wrote a book called Miracles that I highly recommend.  If you can’t be bothered to read it, watch this video.
  3. Don’t say “It’s impossible for somebody to be raised from the dead, so Christianity is obviously made up.” Obviously it’s improbable, but not impossible.  That’s why a religion sprang up around this one guy named Jesus who seems to have risen from the grave after three days.  It’s also useful to note that the gospels don’t make it clear what exactly happened.  In Mark, Jesus just disappears from the tomb and that’s it.  In other Gospels he appears but the apostles don’t recognize him at first.  What happened or didn’t happen isn’t all that clear.  Most Christians understand that and are okay with it.
  4. God is not “the same as a flying spaghetti monster.” Billions of Christian believers over the last 2,000 years have not attested to the reality of a flying spaghetti monster.  Would you convict someone of a crime based on eyewitness testimony?  Then why not believe billions of witnesses of Christ?  This is called the “argument from reason” and lots of really smart people seem to like it and/or have a hard time refuting it.
  5. Christians are not blind automatons.  The word “Israel” means either “God struggles” or  “to struggle with God.”  Either way, Christianity is a conversation between God and humanity spelled out in 73 volumes.
  6. Christianity doesn’t owe its popularity to forced conversions.  Isolated cases occurred.  But, for the most part, people dropped pagan religions like a hot potato and picked up Christianity instead.
  7. Just because some Christians don’t practice what they preach doesn’t  mean that Christianity stinks. Don’t make a short list of radical, stupid, and/or evil Christians and say “see, Christianity stinks.”  This is the dumbest thing I ever heard.  All doctors aren’t perfect, but we don’t give up on medicine do we?
  8.  Christianity isn’t some childish belief system you can outline on a 3″ x 5″ index card and then poke holes in.  Christianity has been developed by the the greatest minds of the last 2,000 years and the Bible is a library of books — books that are complex, universally relevant, inspirational and interconnected to a degree you cannot possibly imagine.

References:

(C) Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Myths

  1. Catholic clergy aren’t more likely to abuse children than other clergy or men in general.
  2. Clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church can’t be blamed on celibacy or homosexuality.
  3. Clergy abuse can’t be blamed on an all-male clergy.
  4. Almost all of clergy sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church occurred during the 1960s and 70s.
  5. Most clergy sex offenders aren’t pedophiles — most offenses were against post-pubescent teens.

References:

(D) Christian Belief Myths

There are 2.4 billion Christians on the planet, belonging to hundreds of wildly divergent denominations.  It is virtually impossible to make sweeping statements about what Christians do and do not believe.

  1. All Christians do not believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell.
  2. Furthermore, Christians do not agree on the definitions of certain key words, such as “salvation,” “heaven” “hell,” and so on.
  3. All Christians are not Bible literalists who believe Earth is only 6,000 years old, flat and other silly things.
  4. Christians are not generally motivated by fear of hell or promise of heaven.  Salvation is achieved through some combination of either grace (a free gift from God) and/or works (doing good stuff in the world).
  5. All Christians are not fundamentalists.
  6. All Christians are not opposed to science.
  7. Most Christians do not hate gays.  
  8. Christians do not despise the world and live for the next life to the detriment of this one. Despising the world is actually a pretty heretical belief in the eyes of most Christians.  Probably the most famous Bible quote of all time is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  John 3:16  (NRSV)

References

Bible Myths

  1. Most Christians — especially members of the clergy — don’t believe the Bible was magically written by God.  Or even that it was written by the people two whom the individual books are attributed for that matter.  That’s because…
  2. The Bible is not just “some old book.”  The Bible is a library of 73 books, and it is an incredible feat.  Somehow, thousands of authors, editors and scribes, working in different times across millennia, managed to bring together this library of books in such a way that the disparate volumes form a cohesive narrative structure.  See the diagram below.  The Bible makes something like Wikipedia look like a tri-fold pamphlet.  You might even say that it’s a miracle.
  3. The Bible doesn’t promote violence, or misogyny, or any of that. It contains stories with controversial themes — kind of the same way that a documentary about drug addiction might show drug use without promoting it.  And it contains all of the outdated ideas that we’ve improved upon too.  The great thing about Christianity is that its definition of “good” has evolved over time because Christians have generally tried to be humble.  God is the highest possible good, and beyond our comprehension.  As our vision gets better, God and Good get better!
  4. People who study the Bible and think it’s important are not uneducated and/or backward.  Most of the smartest people and greatest scientists of past and present were and are Christians.  See references in previous section.
  5. Biblical laws were not and are not backward and draconian, nor are they evidence that Christianity is outdated and backward. The Hebrews were the first culture in the Ancient Near East to abolish physical punishment for property crimes, the first to establish a single code for all social stratum, the first to do away with divine kings, and so on.  Compare the law of the Hebrews to those of their neighbors and you will see that the Hebrews’ are far more progressive.  The philosophy that gave birth to those laws allows for the laws to be updated — see #2 above.
  6. Just because the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) contradict each other doesn’t mean that the Bible is a nest of lies.  The founders of the early Christian churches were aware of the contradictions — they just didn’t care all that much.  Apparently they were more open-minded that most people are nowadays.
  7. Biblical laws, rules and customs cannot be taken out of context and used to prove points. The Bible is a library of 73 books written across millennia that document the centuries-long struggle of Jews and Christians to figure out exactly what the laws and rules should be.   Of course there are contradictions.  Copernicus and Ptolemy contradict each other regarding the correct model of the solar system, but we don’t claim that Astronomy itself is invalid.  Also, it’s useful to note that the book of Proverbs is not a book of religious laws.  It is called Proverbs because, as it happens, it is a book of proverbs, which are genre of folklore. Why do uneducated people insist on attacking Biblical statements out of context?  I don’t know.  What if I did the same to them?  How does this feel?   “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” ~Proverbs 26:11

References:

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible –  Prof. Christine Hayes (RLST 145 — Yale Open Courses website)

Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature — Prof. Dale Martin (RLST 152 – Yale Open Courses website). [Note: If you think it’s important, which it isn’t, but you might think it is if you believe in common myths about Christianity, Prof. Martin is gay.)

The Hebrew Bible — Rabbi Shaye Cohen (Harvard 2013)

The Bible is the first hyperlinked document.  Click graph below for more details.

Graph of the Bible’s 63,000 Cross-references