August 12, 2020

Chaplain Mike’s New Year’s Resolutions 2015


In January 2009, Michael Spencer wrote a post containing his New Year’s resolutions. In the same spirit, I offer the following list for 2015.

• • •

homer_eating_Donut1. I am breaking off my love affair with you, food. I’m sorry, honey, it’s not you, it’s me. No, really. You’ve never been more beautiful and enticing, but we’re just no good together. I need to lose about fifty pounds and I just can’t go on like this. Look, I’m willing to be friends, but — come on, stop looking at me like that! — I have to set some boundaries here. No more late nights alone together — hey, what are you doing? Stop rubbing my shoulders! And turn those lights back on, will you? No more secret rendezvous in the drive-thru or long illicit pleasure weekends lying around, enjoying each other’s company. No, please don’t cry. You know I can’t stand it when you cry. Okay, okay. Just one more night together. But this is it. Really. This is it. Tomorrow, everything changes.

2. You know, the usual stuff: getting more exercise, eating more fruits and vegetables, spending more time with my family and friends, keeping a better daily schedule, reading more books, maintaining a more consistent devotional life, showing more generosity. Yada yada yada. What’s on TV tonight?

3. I will break this f * ing habit of swearing when I get frustrated.

4529445838_37b190bbec4. I will not get upset when an iMonk commenter gets under my skin. I will not get upset when an iMonk commenter gets under my skin. I will not get upset when an iMonk commenter gets under my skin. I will not get upset when an iMonk commenter gets under my skin. I will not get upset when an iMonk commenter gets under my skin. I will not get upset when an iMonk commenter gets under my skin. . . .

5. Since the programs Downton Abbey, Justified, House of Cards, and The Americans are about to start up again in the next month or two, I will come up with a theology that justifies binge TV-watching as an essential spiritual discipline.

6. I will complete last year’s resolution of finishing N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God. I love the guy, but . . . WORDY!

7. I will find a way to get that new iMac with the retina display. I may even start adhering to will preach and promote the prosperity gospel until it happens.

Skydiving_011845158. I will skydive in 2015. But not before losing weight. Nobody needs to see some gigantic UFO falling from the sky, causing widespread panic. The FAA switchboards could never handle the traffic.

9. Not only will I listen to more baseball in 2015, I will read more books about it, write more about it, attend more games at all levels, and, most importantly, play catch with my grandson more often. I gotta get my arm back in shape. You never know: the final piece of the puzzle for the Cubs just might be a 58-59 year old left-handed closer.

10. I will pray for the safe birth of my new grandchild in late January or early February. When he or she is born, I will hold him/her every chance I get and like there’s no tomorrow.


  1. Mine is to just catch the last season of “Justified”. Simpler, easier to achieve. Happy New Year, Chaplain Mike!

  2. Vega Magnus says

    I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. I can’t even think of anything really specific anyway. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and see what happens. I suppose if I had to make some sort of resolution, I’d resolve to watch all of the old Perry Mason episodes that are on Youtube. In any case, I am fond of New Year’s Eve/Day. It’s a lovely time to reflect on the past year. Honestly, other than getting an entry published here on iMonk, nothing all that surprising or weird happened, which is a good thing I suppose. I think I have developed as a person over the course of 2014 and I feel that my views on existential matters have also changed for the better as well.

    On New Year’s Eve/Day, I like to try to think of what I’ll be like at midnight on New Year’s Day the next year and this time, I hope to have quite a bit of fun stuff going on. I’ll be just one semester away from graduation and hopefully I’ll have a girlfriend by then too. Basically, I’ll be very close to entering the real world and that is exciting. I hope that the year spent getting to that point is even more engaging and fun than 2014 was. Happy New Year, everyone!

  3. #1 A few years ago my wife and I went on the HGC medical diet, daily hormone injections, self administered, 500 calories a day for a month then 1000 calories a day for two more weeks. I lost over 30 pounds and at 5’6″ I looked gaunt at 145. Since then its been a slow creep back up the LBS scale. so it is now time to cut back, but no more crash dieting. Take your time CM by cutting out one or two things from your diet. Bread is the most destructive and you will be pleased at the weight you lose.

    #4: I can’t promise that I won’t get under your skin, I KNOW that I HAVE, so just accept it and praise God for diversity of opinion.

    #5 No justifying needed, just DO IT!

    #10 Congrats on your grandchild.

    And I pray for a blessed 2015 for you and your family…

  4. Adam Tauno Williams says

    “I love the guy, but . . . WORDY!”

    I congratulate anyone with that kind of patience. I recognize that with age I have become pretty intolerant/inpatient with excessive words. Succinctness is a precious virtue – just get to what you want to say already!

    Perhaps I should resolve to read/listen longer before I toss in the towel…. but, nah, I know I can’t do it. I hammered my way through The Wealth of Nations, and I think that broke me. Taking hundreds of pages to say something does not make saying that thing impressive – but maybe if the author had managed to say it in 100 pages? And so many tomes [including TWoN] I’ve finished and just felt – “meh”. Far too often I could have just quit after a hundred pages and had everything there was to be had.

    Any tome needs a ringing endorsement from an respected peer in order to command the required investment. But yet I know I’ll give in to trying again. Sigh.

  5. I will finish Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “Divine Milieu” and be able to explain what I read…ok, no I won’t. :-/

  6. Very clever and witty. I plan to only listen to people who have a sense of humor. You are like an onion, always revealing more layers. Yay! Oh, I also plan to get all my electronics straightened out. And that’s the truth!

  7. Years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to stop making New Year’s resolutions. It’s the only one I was ever able to keep. 😉

  8. Chaplain Mike, Happy New Year! The resolution that really matters is holding that precious baby. What a wonderful day to look forward to. With this crazy world that baby will need all the love and security you have to offer him/her. Congratulations to all!

  9. I’m really rooting for you on #5.

    You sound like my husband on #9. Except for that part about the Cubs. They’re hopeless.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      It is one of my favorite things when I end up on the east bound South Shore immediately after a Cubs home game… the “oh, man, we almost had it!”, “if only we had held it together in inning X”, the wailing and pontification, of the fans; many intoxicated. It is an almost religious ritual.

  10. Resolution

    I will look for you in ordinary things,
    in the everyday things:

    in the clatter of dishes,
    in early morning silence,
    in the playfulness of a cat,
    in the ticking of an old clock,
    in the faces I love.

    I will look for you in my own life,
    and in the things that surround it.

  11. Love it, Mike! I hope you achieve every one of your goals. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

  12. Richard Hershberger says

    I didn’t realize you watched House of Cards. This presents you with the opportunity to observe my church’s basement. Season one, with the plotline of one of the characters joining AA, the AA meeting was filmed in our basement. They do a lot of filming in Baltimore because it is cheaper than filming in DC and much of the architecture can pass. When crews film they need some convenient place for all their stuff. This is a nice source of income: they pay us what we think is an absurdly large amount of money and which they think is an absurdly small amount of money, and everybody is happy. They were filming Veep just a couple of weeks ago. Usually we are essentially a storage facility, but occasionally we are used as a set. Our parlor was an AME pastor’s office at one point in The Wire.

    • Richard, the actor who played Peter Russo, the alcoholic running for governor in your AA scene, also played Ernest Hemingway (another famous alcoholic) in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris, one of my favorites. I found that out a couple of nights ago while playing youtube clips. The actor Corey Stoll did an excellent job of Hemingway and I wouldn’t know he was the same guy.

  13. Last year, one where my sister past on her birthday in May. The last time we will be the same age together, my best friend on planet earth. For real. Does he know the number of the drops that fell. Got so sick I couldn’t sing in the choir again. Same thing happened last year. The times I got to practice were good. I so appreciate this Handel guy. I thank God for him.

    I use to walk the mountain and sing to God. I am not a singer. I never really did it my life till lately when I fell in love with God deeper than I could have ever known. I told Him there that I could do this in front of thousands if He would fill me like this as I was singing and in my heart I wanted to. I haven’t been up the mountain lately so much. I’ve been sick and with work, because there are no sick days with what I do, I’ve been to tired. Even before this I was to tired. I still feed the cats there but with no energy to walk up.

    They told me at church a man would contact me about singing on stage at the end of January. He sent me an e-mail Christmas day saying to call him. I’ve been coughing so hard I have no voice at all. Sometimes I think I’m in real trouble but with no medical insurance and no faith in that community I have limited options. Well really just one.

    You see the thing is I don’t feel like that right now. I don’t feel like the times I walked the mountain with Him singing my heart out in the love that was flowing through me. I don’t understand. Did I have it wrong then? Did I have the wrong motives. I keep asking Him why now? Man I hurt inside. I tell Him I’m just asking You as a friend because I don’t understand. You don’t have to answer me it doesn’t change anything about my love for You I.m just asking and talking to You. I don’t have the talent or resolve to stand on a stage without Him and I can’t manufacture it.

    I will go to the mountain today. Try to empty myself to listen. So many things going thru my mind. How do I still them without pouring them out to HIm. There is an ending for a beginning. I cannot do one without the other. It will be a hard walk up today because I get winded lately on just stairs. It always reminds me of my life here. Wish I could laugh more often.

    Peace to you all here. Thanks for listening. Still writing. I have no title. It just came out. No edit.

    In the end I find the new
    In the jump I learn to fly
    When I know not what to do
    Will You answer me in why

    Never have I been left down
    In silence let me hear Your voice
    When all is still I hear the sound
    The falling of chains become my hoist

    Eluding peace in busy mind
    I seek the place where all is poured out
    It is here where I am in hope to find
    It is in the us to what we are about

    In the ending and seeking new
    I wish to be within thy rest
    With heavy heart and feeling blue
    In world where I am a guest

    Here’s to the end bringing the new
    In Your hands I have the best
    Within the ends of ties in loving You
    I look up to see what is next

    • Thanks for sharing your poem, w, and other words about your life and struggles. Jesus loves you. My prayers for a happy and peace-filled 2015.

    • It is in our darkest times that we must remember what was said to us in the light. It was for this reason that the Israelites built the altars in the wilderness – so they could look back in the midst of a trial and see the very places the Lord had rescued them, healed them, provided for them. Your mountain is such a place. It is, for you, the place to bathe in His presence, and when the presence seems distant, to remember that He is and always will be as near to you as He was on that day. You haven’t failed. You are simply human.

      I am sorry for the loss of your sister, your illness, your trials. You, like King David, have a gift for turning those difficulties into words that bless and bring hope to those you will probably never meet. I know I am blessed by your poetry here.

      I am praying for your journey today. May you feel the refresing of His Spirit within you. May His Presence wash over and in and through you. May His joy overwhelm your sorrow. May His healing restore you in every way. Perhaps, just perhaps, you could build an altar, just a small one, to remind you of His adoration and love for you, His precious chosen one.

      Be well. You are loved.

      • Yes, they bulldozed the top of the mountain but where I kneel on a small special rock it is still there. It is called tower road, I like the name. There are towers there for communicating. I have walked it in all kinds of weather last night here it was 18 F. I sang on the way up between coughing and my love has grown as it was growing within the tears that fell. All the words here have weight. Those that responded. Sincerely, thank you.

        I am going to pursue this singing thing. Doesn’t matter what happens his love will meet me. I just know it. I am going to be honest with the men at church like on here. I am going to open up and see what is on the inside of me. My hope is to find Him there. I have to go for it. This jumping thing. The answer was within the rhyme that he gave me only I was writing and not listening till now.

        We will see where the rubber meets this road. Tower road.

        • w,

          Hugs to you. Thanks for another lovely, meaningful poem.

          Honesty is always best; try not to have too much concern about the outcome. Take care of yourself so you can recover faster.

          Love in Christ-

    • “In the jump I learn to fly…”

      I like that line! It’s true for me. I can stew and plan and think about doing something new, but it’s only when I actually jumjp off that cliff and *do* it that The Way opens.

      w, depression is a b****. I speak as one who’s had 70 years of it. Anti-depressants have helped me, and my doc (one of the good ones who iare fast vanishing) gave me samples of the meds to tide me over some financially rough spots. I hope you can find something similar, because I truly do not believe that God plans for our suffering. My “proof” is Jesus’ life and works; he *always* relieved suffering; never inflicted it. Life happens, depression, cancer death of loved ones happen, but I don’t see where God wills those things, and I believe he is always there when we look for him. May He reveal Himself to you in this valley of the shadow you are walking through.

    • The junk (illnesses) that’s going around this year is something else. My daughter just got over pneumonia, I’ve seen whole households laid up.

      I don’t know what to say, w, except…praying for healing and health, and peace.

  14. Mike, you left out Doc Martin.

    And if you haven’t seen the British version of House of Cards from the 1990s, it’s on HuluPlus. BETTER than the American version, but that goes without saying with things British on the telly. Unfortunately, Jeri can’t bear to watch it because the prime minister Francis Urquhart is a nasty piece of refined Shakespearean evil. The American bad guy, Francis Underwood, is merely crude.

    Here’s prime minister Urquhart getting the king to contemplate his existence, similar to Mrs Danvers in the British novel Rebecca, suggesting to the young Mrs de Winter that she admit defeat and jump out the window. Except in this case Urquhart succeeds.

    • Christiane says

      love DOC MARTIN !
      my favorite ‘character’ in that show is the very town itself . . . that sea-view . . . (sigh!)

    • Richard Hershberger says

      Actually, much of British television is very bad. Benny Hill disabused me of the notion that British television is all wonderful. What the British have is a very deep lineup of well trained stage actors that will pop up in television and film productions. This can often obscure other weaknesses. Consider Downton Abbey: superb acting, splendid sets, and embarrassingly cheesy soap-opera scripts.

      The British production of House of Cards is disturbing. Not so much Urquhart. He is, as you say, a Shakespearean villain, and therefore not particularly believable. Underwood is more believably amorally ambitious. And I disagree that he is crude: banal perhaps, but note how he is polite to the staff. What is more disturbing in the British version is the sexual relationship with the inappropriately young journalist, who calls Urquhart “Daddy.” Squick!

      • Christiane says

        Hi RICHARD,

        I am SO addicted to British tv mystery series . . . I love ’em all . . . the ‘cosy’ ones and the horrific ones . . . a favorite is ‘Silent Witness’ (the first shows with Amanda Burton were my favorites) . . . I got started on ‘Miss Marple’ years ago and then discovered the P.D. James series with the character Adam Dalgliesh . . .

        Actually, I think that the Brits do a very good job with the ‘mystery’ genre, and some of the historical dramas.

        ‘Downton’ I watch to see Dame Maggie Smith . . . she’s worth the whole show in my opinion. 🙂

        British comedy ? not so much as some of the other genres

        Do try to catch some of the ‘Call The Midwife’ series . . . so very special, if you like that sort of thing

        As for American TV . . . some production are winners, yes (thinking Shelby Foote) . . . for the most part it wouldn’t hurt to upgrade what we do

        as for me, no sophistication at all . . . I watch ALL the Hallmark Christmas movies and predictably cry at the happy endings . . . I’m not one to suggest what’s ‘better’ out there, just based on this behavior alone 🙂

      • So what you’re saying is, my wife is right to be repulsed by the British House of Cards? I don’t want to allow her that. 🙂

        Well, the American Francis may be polite to his staff, but the British Francis even more polite, as any good sociopath can manage.

        And I just watched an American episode a couple of nights ago where the American Francis rather crudely and cynically took sexual advantage of his own inappropriately young journalist—and made her aware of his contempt. At least the British Francis was fond of his journalist before he…uh…threw her off the roof of Parliament Building when she threatened to expose his previous crimes.

        I’m sorry. Did I ruin it for anybody? That scene comes fairly early though, and the scream of “Daddddeeeeee!” as Mattie plummets to her death haunts and defines the rest of the series. As does Urquhart’s murder of the two Cypriot brothers (in flashbacks) when he was a young lieutenant.

        I will say, that Francis Urquhart’s taste in women is very high quality—with the possible exception of his wife. Now, she and the bodyguard make quite a duo.

        Ah, British drama. Glad I don’t see the bad stuff. Leave it over there.

  15. David Cornwell says

    About three years ago at Thanksgiving I weighed myself and the scales hit 215 lbs. This upset me. A week before someone told me about his success using Dr Gott’s “No flour, no sugar” diet. At it’s core, this is it. Reading the book you find more suggestions and details.

    I do most of the grocery shopping now because Marge has Parkinson’s disease, and it tires her out. Buying groceries that contain neither of these ingredients is an education. The time I spent in the grocery store looking at labels probably doubled. Most supermarket food is saturated with one kind of sugar or another.

    But the benefit of this diet is how quickly it begins to work. Almost immediately we started to lose weight. Both sugar and flour makes a person want to eat more. Eliminate it and the hunger level starts to decrease very quickly. After reaching a weight goal, one can selectively re-introduce some sugar/flour. Both Marge and I lost weight and quickly started feeling better. Now I’m down to 165 lbs, just about right for my body type and build.

    The book suggests keeping a food diary. We never did this. It also tells how to adapt special diet needs to this plan. So people with diabetes, heart problems, or other needs can find out how to do this.

    After losing the weight, all my blood test numbers were much better, and have remained that way.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I always feel out of place in the diet discussions. I’ve been trying to gain weight for two years now. I continue to get stronger, but can’t seem to put any pounds on. Holding steady at 205. Although my goals may be different, I still empathize with not being able to meet your body goals.

  16. Mike, this is great, especially #2 (yada yada yada…)

    BYW, I’ve taken off about 22 pounds in the last six months by simply writing down everything I eat and its calorie content (from the CalorieKing site). AND keeping to 1200 calories a day.

    The oddest thing happened about the time I started this: I lost my appetite. Without that still-unexplained loss, I have *never* been able to lose weight, or if I did it quickly ballooned again. We’ll see what happens this time.

  17. If I were required by law to like a team sport as a spectator, it would be baseball.

  18. I will find a way to get that new iMac with the retina display.

    You DO know about the refurb section of the Apple store hidden in “the back”?

    Computers that Apple had to take back for one reason or another. They fix any issues and then sell them at a discount. Warranty and service as new. My clients buy as much as they can off this area.

    Scroll to the bottom of most any page in the Apple Store web pages and look for the link. Just read carefully and make sure you’re buying what you think you are.

  19. Kathy Wynveen says

    Oh, dear! “the final piece of the puzzle for the Cubs just might be a 58-59 year old left-handed closer.”
    I read that as “left-handed loser”. I resolve to stop jumping to conclusions in 2015.