Friday, June 30, 2006


A few years ago, while out for a morning jog, I briefly caught a conversation between a toddler and his mommy pushing him in a stroller:

-(Pointing to me) "What's she doin'?"
-"Running, dear."

I remember chuckling ruefully at the time. However, I've in fact been bothered of late by the same question. Why are we so attached to sports or physical activity - i.e. recreation? Why the World Cup? Why pickup baskball games in the park? Why hundreds of people running around every weekend in seemingly futile circles around Lake Calhoun, Isles, Harriet, etc.? Why swimming, sailing, kayaking, golfing (SERIOUSLY), hiking, biking, canoeing...

Much could be said about pride and the search for prestige, especially in the more visible sports. But these are the most obvious answers. I'm gonna place my bets elsewhere, just for argument's sake. What other motives might there be? (My mind is filling up with images of "special stories" from Olympic coverage of years passed, when we see the young, brave athlete strapping on their skates for the umpteenth time...)

I don't want this to get corny.

But something DID strike me recently that I've got to throw out there. While joggin' and sloggin' along through the summer heat recently ("why?!"), I realized that in re-creation, we re-create ourselves in a way. Give me a second to explain. In this world, we all yearn for new bodies. No one is exempt from this. For the Christian, one of our dearest hopes and convictions is that when the Lord returns, our bodies will be resurrected and NEW. This is essential to the Christian for their ability to withstand the glory of God. As the downcast Job explains:

A. Life sucks. REALLY sucks. But -
B. "As for me, my Redeemer lives. Even after my skin is destroyed, YET FROM MY FLESH I SHALL SEE GOD." (Job 19:25)

This "flesh" can only be the resurrected body, because the old body is "destroyed". Paul invites us not to speculate overmuch, but we do know that it will be modeled after the design of the body of the resurrected Christ - "we shall all be changed." (1 Cor 15:51)

But what the heck does all this theology have to do with sports & stuff?

Here's the deal. I'm seeing that our desires to shape and tone and firm up and strengthen - these are all God-given desires, because we want our new bodies SO BADLY. When coupled with the communal, competetive, and other aspects of sports, the urge to partcipate really takes over, for some people. (You'll know what I mean if you're that kind of person.) But I'm ready to postulate (oh dear) that the desire for our resurrected bodies is the PRIMARY MOTIVATOR. I'll be happy to discuss with anyone who feels the contrary. I'm particularly interested in what y'all think about the legitimacy of searching for a new, toned earthly body if a heavenly one is on the way. Are all of our sweaty efforts in vain? What purpose do they serve towards our eternal life?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New York, New York!

Okay, I am finally getting around to posting about our lovely voyage to the Big Apple. With only 3-4 days to explore such a vast city (for the very first time for both of us), we had to set some priorities. Considering the shared predispositions of the Cox and von Gohren family, two main objectives began to emerge:

1. Eat well.
2. Hear live music.

And did we ever! Follow the link below:

New York Slideshow

Ever take it off any sweet jumps?

I've got a new ride. Karl decided that Abbey could have his old bike, provided that he refurbished it a tad. Isn't it good-looking? Oh wait...that's the mechanic. Hang on a sec.....

Before............................ and After......

Now, navigating the Parisian streets might be a whole different matter. My new bright red wheels (which you can't see in the picture) might make me a bit more obvious than normal.

Anyone wanna go for a spin?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Restless Thoughts

Thanks to a top-notch discussion by Bill Edgar, I've been re-launched into thoughts on Sabbath rest. Take my advice and carve out an hour of your life to listen to this lecture. What he says about our culture and life on earth is so TRUE and GOOD. Just click on the link below:

A Theology of Entertainment

Edgar talks about what Pascal calls the diversionary life, an existance in which everything is engineered to foster our discontent. Pascal posits that all evils stem from our inability to stay at home; that is, our propensity to wander. For him, to err in the moral sense and the physical sense are inextricably linked. I am not willing to completely buy into that argument. While I agree that human nature has always been restless - "till we find our rest in Him" (dear old Augustine) - I think the urge to physically wander can certainly be a symptom of (or metaphor for) spiritual unrest, but it might just be an evening walk to strech your legs. It could be both (cf. Jacob's tussle with an angel after a midnight stroll).

What is so extraordinary about Pascal's thoughts in this area ("Pensees"), is how prophetic they were. His observations seem much more akin to the problems of our day than anything I can imagine from his. From blogs to cell phones, multiple email addresses to TV, ads to US Weekly... the means of diversion stretch on ad infinitum. As Bill Edgar points out, the irony of these recent technological developments is that they are supposedly for COMMUNICATION'S sake, and yet they seem rather to hinder profound, or even decent conversations between people.

And you know, he's right. In order to aside the time to talk with a friend over a glass of wine, our busy schedules force us to play "phone tag" - one of the saddest forms of non-communication around - in which we achieve no personal connection whatsoever, talking to one another's machines, hoping against hope that we'll somehow "connect" at some point. Technology is replacing humans at a frightening pace...


Ok. Settle down, Abbey. Technological advances are NOT evil. (This is perhaps the mistaken conclusion of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World? Maybe.) All the same, it follows that if Pascal was able to observe the dangers of restlessness, despite the fact that he did not have a blog to update, twenty emails to respond to, and his cell phone vibrating off the hook, then we indeed have a transhistorical problem on our bloody hands.

T.S. Eliot aptly describes the unhappy state of restlessness as:

Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs

"Distracted from distraction by distraction." From one TV show repeat to the next to the next. From one single-shot skinny latte to the next to the next. That's the bummer about diversion - we end up stuck in that cycle of semi-escape where nothing meaningful will do. We prefer apathetic fancies to meaning and concentration. No wonder we're always bored. Like C.S. Lewis says, we prefer making mud pies in our backyard, because we cannot imagine what a holiday at the beach means. What will save us from our endless diversionary mud pies?


Now, what THAT means remains to be unpacked.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cabin Days...

This weekend, Christa and Tim hosted us at their beautiful family cabin on Lake Wissota. Apparently this lake is referenced in the movie Titanic (though I make it a point of pride never to have seen this film) by the Leonardo Dicaprio character, who claims to have ice fished with his grandfather on this lake wheh he was a little boy. There's only one problem.

Lake Wissota didn't exist at the time of the Titanic. It is a manmade lake, constructed in 1917, 5 years after the ship went down. This is duly noted the highly-authoritative Wikipedia, but even more importantly, told to me with great ardor by my new cousin Tim.

Despite these historical discrepancies, the lake was quite real and quite chilly, as the boys (and a few girls from time to time) braved the waves. Tim and Karl became quite adept at switching inner tubes mid-ride, making for some awkward yet triumphant moments.....

It was summer at its best...cold beers in the late afternoon sun, taking the motor boat to the roadside stand for cheese curds and root beer floats, women circlin' up for a rollicking night of cards while the guys did...something...with....guns Good things.

The elegant Mrs. Thaler

Natalie and Hayden (right),
the youngest crew member

Monday, June 05, 2006

Shameless Plug for my Husband's Band

That phantasmagorical extravaganza of talent known as...

will be kickin' it up on the East Side on June 16th, at Minnesota Music Cafe. Promises to be a night of dancin' and schmancin'. But mostly good music. Come see your favorite keyboard player and mine astonish the crowd with his meaty chops.