Posts by Arthur Thelesser

Human becoming. Likes making pies.

Wednesday Weigh-In #7

It’s slow-going, but it’s going down, generally. I’m at 209.3, which is two pounds less than two weeks ago. I feel like I’ve been aiming for 208 for the last month–because I have been. But there’s other factors, and they’re all positive, I think.

First: there are other measures of health than the number on the scale. I used a towel that, six months ago, I struggled to wrap around my gut; now there’s plenty of room. I’m wearing smaller clothes, I’m at the end of my belt, I no longer plan my trips up and down stairs (our house has too many stairs y’all) to avoid over-exertion and the embarrassment of getting out of breath.

Second: I have eaten more pasta in the last two weeks than I have in the previous three months. And I’m acknowledging portions are a thing. And I’m being intentional, and exercising, and I’ll take these little lowerings, because they’re sticking. MAYBE I’ll be under 200 by Halloween. Maybe I won’t. But I’ll keep being intentional and cognizant. It’s the best I can do.

It’s a Good Decline

It’s funny–I want to blog more, because I enjoy doing it. It is an outward presentation of the truth, right?

And I’m fine acknowledging when I lose or gain weight, talking about workouts, offering theological mulls and what-have-you–but life, generally, is a little complex right now, and I am not putting a lot out there.

  1. I’m a pastor, and I’m not talking about the congregation I serve on this site (for now), and it’s a big part of my life. Like, fifty to sixty waking hours a week, that I just don’t write about. I might change that–but with the church’s acknowledgment and permission.
  2. I am a foster parent, which is a hoot and a half. It’s pretty amazing. And I’m erring on the side of caution, and saying absolutely nothing about the placements in my home. And believe it or not, having kids around takes up a surprising amount of time and energy!
  3. I should probably use this blog to focus on one topic. I have not decided what it is yet, though. I worry it may be fitness, based on views. (I worry because then I have to keep doing stupid plank jump-ins, which are the worst.)

So there you go.

Workout Wednesday

Okay. Today was good.

I’ll admit, I slept really well last night. And we were just a little ahead of schedule this morning. (Does it really matter? Not at all!)

But today I did five sets, in 21 minutes. I hit 750/1000. I did 100 sit-ups and push-ups and plank jump-ins (they are the worst) and hop heel clicks. I did 150 squats. I did 200 jumping jacks. In 21 minutes, with some rest in there.

On Friday, I did 750 and it took forever. It was also the middle of the afternoon and hot out. But here’s the table difference:

Jumping Jacks50*440*5
Plank Jump-Ins25*420*5

So, I don’t know what difference sets versus reps make, if it does, in this kind of workout. I paused more doing 25 sit-ups, I got more in my head on Friday. I did not rest nearly as much this morning. But does time of day change things that much? Caffeine? Having eaten? Humidity? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’ll be working to normalize five sets, and pushing hard to stick to 22 minutes, maximum.

I’m glad I’m tracking this stuff. Fun fact! I started doing this in May, and really tracking things in June. Here’s my workout two months ago, and my workout today:

Jumping Jacks60200
Plank Jump-Ins18100

And you know what? In both of these workouts, I did more than nothing. But man, progress feels good!

Friday Freakout! 750!

I have been doing bodyweight exercises, building reps and sets to get to 1,000 reps. (I think if you go here, it’s the most recent post about it.) I have struggled, uh, the entire time with doing the exercise consistently–my worst streak of not doing any bodyweight was four days, until earlier this week, when it was five. So today, even though I did not get up early, I took my time and worked out.

And I got to 750. And probably no one cares except me, but guys, I did 100 sit-ups. I am proud of myself. And I’m not going to blow this lead by eating like a moron tonight! I am breaking the weight loss plateau I’ve been on for three weeks. It’s happening! Believe it!

Wednesday Weigh-In #6

I missed #5 on July 29 (that is, posting) and I weighed in at 213 exactly. So a loss of 2.3 pounds, at least, at that day.

I haven’t expected much change the last few weeks; I’ve definitely plateaued because I’m not as stringent, and not as motivated, and not as driven as I was the first twelve weeks.

I have kids in my house. I’m balancing two sudden teenagers. So not gaining weight right now is good for me. I’m happy about.

I still feel skinny, I still feel healthy. And I’ll get the final pounds off, heading toward 200, though, not by my 36th birthday. Unless I’m super unhealthy.

Here’s the number for August 12:


Monday Mull – Ephesians 3:1-13

So full and fair disclosure: I’m teaching a week behind what I’m preaching which is often written a week in advance. That is, I taught Ephesians 2:1-10 this morning, then preached (praught?) Ephesians 2:11-22, but I’ve been writing on Ephesians 3:1-13 this last week (and hope to finish it today).

Anyhow, with all these i’s dotted and crossed, let’s talk about how Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, which was none of the three, has a section in which the author pulls big Pauline identity markers to… well, to do what?

Paul’s a prisoner for/of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Gentiles. Paul is divinely commissioned, had the mystery revealed by revelation, and joins the lineage of prophets and apostles, “so that through the Church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies.” So this writer is putting a lot of Paul forward to boost up the work of the Church?

I get it, I do–Ephesians is considered the most ecclesial writing in the New Testament–one could read earlier chapters of Ephesians and legitimately ask if the author meant the church was to fill up the universe! And Paul’s ministry… excuse me, “Paul’s” mission is to remind the Church they’re good enough. That it’s not a mistake, or an accident, or a one-off that Christ is working through them.

And I like that. We suffer, but it is for glory.

The Rest is Commentary: 1 Corinthians 10:13

So a few years ago, my dad (who is non-religious) misquoted Jesus at me. He did not know he was misquoting Jesus at me, but he said, “It’s like Jesus said, ‘Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats the rest of his life.'” And as I told my dad, it’s actually a Chinese proverb–perhaps from Confucius, perhaps not. What Jesus would say is, “Give a man a fish.”

It’s a terrible phrase we think is Biblical, is scriptural, but is not. But the worst one easily has to be, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

First of all, there’s the weird implications of does God cause bad things to happen in our lives? Did God want me to be in a car accident and lose a leg, knowing I’d be able to handle it? (This is hypothetical.) Is part of the divine plan my outrageous suffering, and since I’m not dead from it, I guess it’s my lot in life?

Second, perhaps God does give each of us more than we can handle. We’re called to take up our cross and follow Jesus! And he got nailed to his, and left to die! And depending on your theology, he did falter–he prayed for the cup to be taken from him, albeit for a moment. He cried to God, feeling forsaken. And, oh yeah, he died in a brutal, violent manner, executed by an empire at the behest of the powers that be.

So where does this come from, this “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” nonsense? I think it’s a misreading of 1 Corinthians 10:13,

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to [humanity]. And God is faithful; [God] will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, [God] will also provide a way out so that you can endure it

1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV (egalitarian brackets)

(It’s dumb that quotes are that much bigger than actual text, but I’m too unwilling to worry about it, I think.)

This is plural. God will not let y’all be tempted/tested beyond what y’all can bear. Do you know what I can bear by myself? Some stuff. Do you know what I can bear with you and they and all of us? A whole lot more!

Consider this–the way out God has offered may very well be our strength in numbers, our embodied relationship to Christ and each other by being actually connected with, and caring for, one another! This made me so mad, folks. I feel like we’ve all been duped into some individualistic nightmare.

Saturday Songs and Stories

I really like song covers. One of my absolute new favorites is I Wanna Dance with Somebody, as done by David Byrne.

This is a bop.

It’s maybe the perfect cover. Of course, David Byrne can do no wrong in my eyes. So I am inherently biased, but aren’t we all?

The other best cover of all time has to be Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ cover of Just Dropped In.

I love Kenny Rogers’ original. Of course I do–I also love The Big Lebowski. But have you heard this version?

This is also a bop.

What is the term for a cover that becomes more popular than the original? What do we do with songs like Tainted Love, made zeitgeist by Soft Cell in the 80s, covering Gloria Jones’ original?

This, too, is a bop.

I think I will call them “fitted sheets,” these songs that get overshadowed and covered up by other versions.

I guess I don’t have much of a story about song covers, except the reason I truly enjoy them is that they’re retelling stories, reframing a narrative, and finding ways to make something known their own. I guess my problem with covers like the one done by Soft Cell is that I get the impression they weren’t paying homage to the original, or building on top of it. (It feels like we weren’t meant to know there was an original? What do I know, though! Not my generation.)

I don’t know what to think about Weezer’s cover of Africa. It’s so similar, except where it’s not. What do we do with ironic covers, like Cake’s I Will Survive and Ben Folds’ B*tches Ain’t Sh*t? (Actually, I know what to do with the latter–throw it out. It’s a fun song, but it fetishizes an entire genre for a joke, and I don’t have a lot of room for that, personally. And I love Ben Folds.)

Is this really about storytelling? Surely.

The Shifting Nature of Genius

In 1997 or 1998, my friend Lou and I went to see Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in theaters. We both enjoyed it–we were big jazz nerds and the music is great. It featured Burt Bacharach. It was raunchy and full of thoughtful throw-away jokes. And, it featured Elizabeth Hurley, who was my beard as a super-gay middle schooler–“she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” etc. etc.

Waiting for Lou’s mom to pick us up, he said, “Mike Myers is a genius.” And I remember, twenty-two years later, my response. “Mozart was a genius. Mike Myers is a comedian.”

I remember that response for a few reasons. One, Lou is an actual genius–he is one of the most creative, innovative and pioneering creators out there. He has always been a genius–arranging charts for our middle school jazz combo (I told you, we were so super cool y’all) and writing full [symphonic cycles] in college that blew peoples’ minds. And while I am an intelligent, handsome, amazing and modest human, Lou is so far out of my league he’s on a different planet. He summers in Grenyarnia, as it were.

And two, I knew I was wrong when I said Mike Myers was not a genius, and I remembered being wrong forever. I talked to Lou on Saturday, and while our conversation wheeled all over the place as it does, I brought up that I watched Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery with my foster kids (14 and 12), and it definitely holds up.

It also, in 90 minutes, hits the high points of every 60s Bond movie (lairs, henchmen, Odd Job, death traps), spoofs the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, and mixes brilliant throwaway lines (“I’m glad we overthrew those capitalist pigs,”) with gutter jokes (everything to do with the Swedish penis enlargement pump). There’s not a wasted second in that film; it’s tight.

And considering how much from the first and second Austin Powers movies entered the zeitgest–get in my belly; I ate a baby; I’m a sexy bitch; O behave; do I make you horny; mini-me; yeah baby!; I want my babyback, etc.–one might suppose genius impacts the culture. Of course it does!

Anyhow, as today is a rainy and indoors Friday, once the fosters get up, I think I’ll show them Austin Powers 3, with the greatest opening of all time. (Fun fact: Myers said, as they wrote the opening, they were laughing at themselves, saying, “This will never happen!” Genius and humility do go hand-in-hand? It’s probably why I’m not one!)

Good, Great and Best

So I became a morning person this year.

I’ve always kind of been a morning person–I wake up, and I’m there, ready, boom. I don’t have coffee cups that say, “Don’t talk to me until I refill this,” or whatever. How I feel when I wake up is as good as it gets all day.

But I’ve started getting up at five.

All right, wait. To be fair–I’m not always bright and chipper immediately at five a.m. I am at eight–I can start talking from a deep sleep at eight a.m. The sun’s up. The birds are singing. The world’s alive. Five a.m. is harder. I get up, more precisely I guess, at 5:08 or so. Before the husband’s alarm at ten after, but just barely.

I get up at five because it’s my time–or rather, because Husband gets up, too, it’s our time. The kids are asleep. The world’s sort of waking up, but not very much.

On the best mornings, I hit all the points of my routine on time. Please let me know if this is insane:

  • 5:00 – weigh in, change into workout clothes, get the dogs ready.
  • 5:20 – meet Husband in kitchen, walk the dogs.
  • 5:35 – drop the dogs off at the house, continue walk with Husband.
  • 6:00 – return home, hydrate, go do bodyweight while he gets ready for work.
  • 6:25 – unload the dishwasher, make and drink a smoothie
  • 6:40 – go upstairs, shower and get ready
  • 6:55 – in the Warren to pray and do Bible study
  • 7:30 – attend super secret meeting on Zoom.

I like my routine. Husband and I walk 2.3 miles by going up and down our street, and the streets one block over on either side. We’re never more than two and a half blocks from home. And the world is this electric purple at five a.m.–streetlights and moonlight and dawn and shadows all play together; down by the hospital, it’s like a baseball field from my childhood. Hard to explain.

There’s something to doing push-ups and insisting to one’s self that yes, five more! Five more! as the sun comes up. There’s an amazing feeling in taking six thousand steps before seven a.m.–just as there’s a feeling of utter disappointment to not hit ten thousand naturally, which has happened before!

There’s something to saying, “This is what makes a morning The Best. And this is what it takes to accomplish it.” And, to letting one’s self have Great Mornings, and Good Mornings, too.

Great mornings, not as frequent but certainly unavoidable, hit four or more–unload the dishwasher, eat breakfast, get ready, pray and do Bible study.

Good mornings, rare as they are, are getting out of bed and confronting the day on whatever schedule and slant is needed to do the next right thing.

What is your morning routine? Are things totally out of whack in the summer, the school year? Who, of you, are early birds getting that worm?