O Me of Little Faith

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide people into arbitrary categories and those who don’t.

Wait, that’s not how I intended to start this. Let me try again.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who make New Year’s resolutions and those who don’t. I am the first kind. And I believe that it’s not only important to make resolutions, but also to make them public, so people will hold you accountable to them. I fully want friends (as well as total strangers) to come up to me in June and ask how I’m doing in relation to my goal of becoming a circus clown, or how far I’ve gotten in my resolution to learn Russian so I can read The Brothers Karamazov in the original language.

Those are just hypothetical resolutions, of course. I don’t fully intend to become a circus clown, as chaps tend to make my thighs look way too big.

Anyway, on to the resolving. Here were my resolutions for 2008 and last month’s check-up of those resolutions.

And here are my resolutions for 2009:

1. Sell lots of books. My three Pocket Guide books — Pocket Guide to the Bible, Pocket Guide to Sainthood, and Pocket Guide to the Afterlife — release this summer. My doubt book is tentatively scheduled to release this fall. In the meantime, you can buy the original first edition of Pocket Guide to the Bible (signed and shipped personally by the author) for only $6.99. Or only $3.99 each if you buy a whole box of them. Give them away in your college/young adult ministry! Donate them to federal prisoners! Use them as bookstops! Credit cards and PayPal accepted. See the sidebar at left for details.

2. Continue using this blog for blatant self-promotion. Done! (See above.)

3. Read 12 books. “Read more books” was one of my resolutions last year and I failed to meet it. It’s hard to read books when you’re writing books, because 1) you don’t have a lot of free time, and 2) everything you read is research-related. Also, the books you do read are generally read partially, not completely. I don’t consider a book officially “read” unless I finish the whole thing. So this year I’m attaching a specific number to it — one book per month — and I will keep track of my list and share it with you in December. Special note: My own books don’t count. By the time each one is released, I will have read it at least a half-dozen times, so that would eclipse my goal on its own.

4. Exercise at least four times a week, but don’t focus on any single category. I like to exercise but I tend to get bored with it, so I need to keep it fresh. My goal this year is to make my workouts cross-platform, so instead of lifting weights three times a week, I might just do that once a week. The other three would be some combination of swimming, jogging, CrossFit, rec-league volleyball, or competitive unicycling. Except for the unicycling.

5. Participate in three sprint triathlons. Last summer I participated in my first tri. Then I competed in another tri, which I finished but not without throwing up midway through the race. This year, I want to add one more to the mix, and subtract the vomiting.

6. Participate in another single-category race/competition. Not sure what this will be. Maybe a local 5K as triathlon prep?

7. Waste less. This is another really broad one, but I have no idea how to quantify it. This will involve some combination of the following: driving less, biking more, walking more, spending less, showering faster (less water), washing dishes faster (less water), turning lights off more frequently, recycling more, and composting with worms. That’s right: vermiculture will become my newest hobby. I’m getting set up with it hopefully this weekend, and will report. It will be awesome.

8. Make more art. I didn’t paint much in 2008, due to the book-writing thing. I’m hoping to have more time for it in 2009. I probably need to quantify this — make four paintings or something — but I’m hesitant to do so.

9. What the heck: Finish four paintings. Apparently I just talked myself into it.

10. Limber up enough to be able to touch my toes. So last year, immediately prior to my second triathlon, all the competitors were warming up en masse with a professional trainer, and he said something about doing a quick toe touch — because “you’re all triathletes so obviously you should be able to do this.” I wanted to raise my hand and tell him to shut up, because I have never been able to touch my toes without bending my knees. Never. I have no idea why, but something about my body configuration prohibits it. My arms are about five inches short. Or my hamstrings are about five inches too tight. By the end of 2009, I want to have stretched my way to enough flexibility to meet this rudimentary fitness goal.

11. Run a mile in less than 6:15. I have friends who average 6 minutes per mile in 10Ks and marathons, and they disgust me. At what feels like my top speed, I can run a mile in barely less than 7 minutes. Six minutes seems impossible. So part of my exercise plan this year will involve improving my time, for no reason other than I like to have goals and I like to pursue them. And because when I run, I feel God’s pleasure. (It feels a lot like wheezing.)

12. Get a few more book-related speaking engagements. I’ve done a few in the past, but since my last book came out in 2006, the Jason-as-speaker campaign has dried up. I’m hoping to relaunch it with the new books. You can help me with this: tell your local universities or churches or nonprofits that I am super-inspiring and dynamic and funny, despite my inability to touch my toes.


Twelve is a good, spiritual number. I think I’ll stop there.

What are your resolutions? Post them in the comments, so I can check up on you in June and see how the clown thing is coming along.

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