Monday, August 27, 2007

Did Fonda's Videos Give People Arthritis?

Dr. Emily Senay Found That Workout Tapes From The '80s Are Now Costing Boomers

It was an exercise revolution and an unparalleled convenience: the ability to do aerobics at will from the comfort of your living room.

Lead by actress Jan Fonda, the 1980s was the age of exercise videos. But now many of the people who used them to get in shape are finding that they actually took a toll on their bodies.

Sheila Wares remembers the high impact aerobics well — and still keeps a library of titles under her television, although they've all been banned from her VCR thanks to a bad knee.

"It's amazing when you think about your knee and how much it affects so much of everything when it comes to exercise, even with yoga you know," she told The Early Show medical contributor Dr. Emily Senay. "Try and do a downward dog on a knee that won't cooperate."

According to Wares' doctor Jennifer Solomon, she isn't alone. Many baby boomers are experiencing this problem. She sees many patients with similar over-use injures at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery.

"These are the people who did the aerobics classes five or six days a week, the high impact aerobics, the step aerobics with three tiered steps," said Dr. Solomon, a physiatrist. "These are the people who thought they were doing the right thing and following the trend of the '80s."

Dr. Solomon says the repetitive nature of high impact aerobics has had an adverse affect on many of the once devoted Fonda fans like Wares.

"They have knee problems," she said. "They all have early arthritis, or have terrible arthritis where they can't go up and down stairs."

Today, Dr. Solomon said these high impact exercise techniques are basically defunct because we now know how to exercise smarter.

"You go into any health club and take a look at their schedule you'll see that step aerobics is no longer there. High impact activity is no longer there," she said. "People are now into core stability and power workouts, which is less stressful on the joints."

Today the only exercise Wares gets are the daily walks with her dog Maxine, which is far from the high level of activity she used to enjoy.

"You were under the impression that you were doing the right thing and keeping yourself healthy," she said, "but it turns out to be a cruel irony in the long run, and did the opposite of what you were striving for."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pygmy elder faces eviction

IN a "heartless" move, the 105-year-old elder of Australia's "lost tribe" of Aboriginal pygmies faces eviction from her far north Queensland home.

Lizzy Woods – who relies on a wheelchair, is blind and suffers dementia – is the mother of 10 children and the oldest surviving matriarch of the Jirrbal rainforest people.

She has been classified as a "living treasure" and is the sole surviving link to the pygmy "white cockatoo" tribe – most of whom stood less than 122cm (4ft) tall – of the Misty Mountain region near Tully.

Sitting in the humble three-bedroom Ravenshoe house she has called home for nearly 25 years, she told The Courier-Mail yesterday she was angry at the impending eviction.

"They are making me homeless," said the 110cm-tall elder, surrounded by some of her five generations of offspring. "I was born in the rainforest. I grew up chasing kangaroo and picking berries off the trees. I belong here. This is my land.

"The pygmy tribe – that is my mob. And this is the place I have chosen to die."

Outraged locals have condemned the move as "heartless".

The Cairns and District Regional Housing Corporation, which owns the house, served notice on Mrs Woods and her carer son, Warren, to leave by August 6. But that has been stayed, pending a complaints panel decision, until September 4.

Corporation chief Jack Szydzik said Mrs Woods was living in a "high-risk" environment.

"This is one of those horror-story drunken brawling party houses and, after three years of warnings, we have had enough," Mr Szydzik said.

He said up to 25 people stayed and partied at the house, where $90,000 had been spent on maintenance in four years.

"It's a terrible thing for the old lady; but we can't get the others to modify their behaviour. And it is not fair that the rest of the whole neighbourhood is held to ransom," he said.

Anthropologists of the 1930s investigated reports of a lost pygmy-like tribe living in the Misty Mountain rainforest.

Photos emerged of child-size adults, carrying wooden swords and shields. Experts have been divided as to whether the tribe are true pygmies, with prehistoric links to African rainforest dwellers, or simply small people.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Inexactitudes of Tod Lindberg's the Political Teachings of Jesus

Comment by Wayne Lusvardi:

In Tod Lindberg's new book The Political Teachings of Jesus, the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount are turned upside down and then inside out in a beguiling example of the social gospel of the Evangelical Left. Lindberg's sincere book could be misconstrued as somethng out of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, although Lindberg is a far cry from being the incarnation of the devil. His book falls more into the category of apostasy and heresy than demonology. A synopsis of Lindberg's book can be found here.

The Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount are contained in the Gospel of Matthew in the Christian New Testament. A number of blessings are issued by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount which inverts the standards of the world that are used to judge happiness (beatitudes means happiness).

Lindberg develops a set of eight "Anti-Beatitudes" to help us see the political implications of the Beatitudes in the Christian Gospels (Lindberg writes there are nine Beatitudes when there are only eight). Lindberg's eight "Anti-Beatitudes" are thus "Anti-Blessings." His focus is not so much to clarify the political implications of each blessing, but to issue curses upon those who disagree with his politics. Each of the above blessings sound beguiling and contain an element of truth. Below are the blessings contained in the Beatitudes in contrast with Lindberg's Anti-Beatitudes (or implied Curses) in parentheses:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit (Cursed are the "rich," "prosperous," "privileged," and "arrogant"). Lindberg says that the opposite of those who are poor in spirit are those who are of a "privileged class," who are "arrogant in their righteousness," have a "sense of superiority" and are "prosperous." Where does Lindberg find the above terms? Certainly not from the Beatitudes. He is injecting his own social class and political bias into this first blessing.

The first of the Beatitudes "blessed are the poor in spirit" transcends all human conceptions of social class because even the rich can obviously be poor in spirit. In fact, even Jesus says "it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" (Matt:19:24). This must mean that the rich, possibly even more than the poor, are "poor in spirit." Anyone who has dealt much with ultra-wealthy families can testify that rich and poor families are more alike in their unhappiness than they are dissimilar (i.e., Tolstoy, Anna Kerenina).

2. Blessed are those who mourn (Cursed are those "who have cause for rejoicing"). Once again, Lindberg's juxtaposition of the words "mourning" and "rejoicing" are not reflective of Christ's words in the whole of the Gospels. Lindberg is not clear here, but what he appears to be driving at are those who rejoice rather than mourn at the death of a person; or possibly rejoice over a scandal or failure of a politician. If so, this Anti-Beatitude has true political implications.

The Gospels do not contain any sanction against rejoicing. In Luke 10:20 for example Jesus is quoted as saying "rejoice that your names are written in heaven." And in Romans 12:15 the Apostle Paul coincidentlly writes: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Joy is a Christian attitude. Lindberg's sanction against those who rejoice is more of a reflection of an "inexactitude" than a "beatitude."

3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Cursed are the "overbearing"). Curiously, Lindberg uses the word "overbearing" here rather than bully, tormentor, or even terrorist. Anyone who is in a position of authority, a policeman, a tax collector, a soldier, a teacher, a social worker, a nurse, is going to have to be "overbearing" at times to accomplish any good. To Lindberg, it is apparently impossible for a person who exercises any kind of authority to be blessed or to be a Christian.

Alhough Lindberg's politics are solidly conservative, perhaps even Neo-conservative, anyone reading this Anti-Beatitude might reasonably get the false impression that the Sermon on the Mount is an anti-authoritarian message which legitimates some sort of extremist libertarian or anarchist politics. Even Jesus' political calculus had a tinge of Machiavellian realpolitik (see below).

4. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Cursed are the "complacent on account of their privileges and who defend them vigorously"). Once again, where does it say in this Beatitude that blessings should not flow to those who are propertied and who defend their property rights? This is what is called a non sequitur -- a statement that does not logically follow from what preceded it.

And where is the connection between "unrighteousness" and having "privileges?" Can the righteous ever be privileged? This sets up a false syllogism where only the unprivileged can be righteous. If the Beatitudes are only for the underprivileged how can they have universal appeal? Here Lindberg preaches a crude sort of proto-Marxism of the Proletariat.

5. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy" (Cursed are the "unforgiving" and the "cruel" and "exploiters"). Surely, Jesus implored his followers to forgive "seventy times seven." But what is the "political" implication in the statement to be merciful and forgiving? Should we commute the prison sentences of every heinous murderer, terrorist, and assassin in mass? Lindberg does not say.

Modern society could not exist if every debt was forgiven. Taking things from the religious realm into the political realm as Lindberg does is going too far. It also assumes that man is all-knowing enough to know who to forgive? Witness the number of criminal recidivists after having their sentences commuted by parole boards. This is another example of an Inexactitude rather than a Beatitude.

6. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Cursed are "the cunning in pursuit of their private gain"). Lindberg's take on this Beatitude is that it is the actions of man, rather than God, that purifies a person. The entire thrust of the Gospels and the Letters of Paul are that man cannot by good works, or false piety, or false purity, inherit the Kingdom of God. As it is written in I John 1:7: "the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." Lindberg seems oblivious to the political framework of Jesus ("be cunning as serpents and innocent as doves").

The point Lindberg seems to be making is to demonize private gain no matter what good comes from it. Lindberg's disparagement of private gain can be construed as a code word for the endorsement of socialism.

7. "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Cursed are "those who act to create or aggravate conflict"). Conflict is not synonymous with peace. It is impossible to live a conflict free life except if one is a vegetable, and even then there is the survival of the fittest against pestilence. Jesus said "he didn't come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). Lindberg seems to be alluding that only pacifists can be blessed, a dubious proposition both empirically and theologically.

8. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness" (Cursed "are those doing the persecuting;" and "when people insult you...because of me...(they are) seeking to put down Jesus's teaching and those who follow it"). Contra Lindberg, Paul says to "bless those who persecute you" (Romans 12:14).

By the standard of the above anti-Beatitude, one can only guess that this critical review would be perceived as a sign of persecution of Lindberg and those of like mind. In fact, this review might be considered a sign of the righteousness of one's cause.

Oddly, Tod Lindberg is a political conservative, editor of conservative publications such as Policy Review, the Washington Times, and Hoover Institute research studies. He has been involved on a number of national committees on national security, genocide, and anti-Americanism. His pedigrees are impeccable. His book has been endorsed by those on both the political right and left such as E.J. Dionne, Michael Novak, Norman Podhoretz, Rodney Stark, and by the Procustean at

Lindberg's website does not disclose his religious affiliation. The theological approach in his book would likely resonate with those on the Evangelical Left such as Jim Wallis, Ron Sider, or even Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Lindberg's apparent theology is a seductive heresy based on the notion that Jesus' ministry and message was meant to be against the rich and for the poor. It infers that God's transcendence is at least a hindrance to, and perhaps incompatible with, Christian social concern and action.

Moreover, transcendence does not mean God and His universal message transcends and judges all social class divisions but rather that the rich can transcend social class by their attitudes toward the poor and the weak. To Lindberg, God and his Kingdom do not have a real, automomous existence apart from the thoughts and good works of humanity. Christianity to Lindberg is not God extending himself to create and reconcile man but the extension of rich elities to the poor. Religious language such as the Beatitudes refer to human experience, nothing else. There are no unintended consequences from carrying out the Beatitudes, hence no original sin.

This sort of heresy was condemned over thirty years ago by what was then called The Hartford Declaration (1975) which was spearheaded by sociologist-theologian Peter L. Berger and then-Lutheran (now Catholic) priest Richard John Neuhaus. At that time the false gospels were coming from the Liberal Left. That the secularization of the Gospel is now apparently emanating from the Evangelical Left should be no less of a cause of concern.

In his essay Different Gospels: The Social Sources of Apostasy, sociologist Peter L. Berger warned about subordinating Christ's Gospel to a political agenda:

"Wherever a political agenda is seen as constitutive of the Church, all those who dissent from it are excluded from the Church. In that very instant, the Church is no longer catholic; indeed it ceases to be the church. And here is the ultimate irony: all such politicalization is an act of implicit excommunication. But, in politicizing its message, the Church is in actuality excommunicting itself? The Gospel liberates by relativizing all the realities of this world and all our projects in this world."

Berger goes on to state:

If we are liberated by faith, we act in the full knowledge of the precariousness and tragic unpredictability of all human projects. Most important: we act in this world, not to be saved, not to attain some perfect purity or justice (which goals are not attainable), but to be of specific and necessarily limited service to others....The moral measure of actions is their probable consequences for others. This is especially so in the case of political actions, because there is a category of actions with particularly unpredictable and potentially disastrous consequences. Precisely because of this, we are most likely to be effective politically (effective, that is, in being of service to our neighbors) if we ground ourselves in a realm beyond politics, thus becoming free to deal with political reality soberly and pragmatically; we cannot do this if we look on politics as the realm of redemption."

Perhaps no apostolic anathema is required to damn the gospels of worksrighteousness: the curse is built-in. Put differently: those who put their faith into these works in the end damn themselves."