More on the Spirituality of Wii fit

I’ve been contemplating a spiritual lesson from our Wii fit.  More specifically, I’ve come to this conclusion about legalism.

The ,Wii fit leads the viewer/player/fitness weenie through a series of exercises.   Some of the exercise use the balance board.  The balance board records how much wieght is distrubuted on the two sides.  Others use the wii-mote, which records how it quickly and in which direction it is moved.

Based on this data, the wii scores the exercises.  It keeps track of these scores.  In families like mine, these became fuel for bragging rights.

(It might be true that I’m a sad little man for looking for bragging rights over my 12, 9, and 7 year old children.  But that’s not the point of this post.)

The thing is, the Wii doesn’t really calculate how good you are at all aspects of an exercise.  It only tracks your wieght distrubution or motion.   Because of this, it almost encourages you to slack in the non-recorded areas.

For example, their is a yoga stretch called the half- moon.   To do the half-moon you stand on the balance board, reach your arms over your head, and stretch to the side.  It creates this wonderful pulling sensation in the sides.

One important aspect of the half-moon, apparently, is that weight remain evenly distrubuted.  And this, in fact, is all that the wii records.  If you stood completely straight and didn’t stretch at all it would score you quite high.  On the other hand, if you push yourself a bit, and stretch hard, perfect balance becomes quite a challenge to mantain.

It’s probably bad to stretch so hard that the distrubutiuon of weight is thrown way off.   A perfect system would probably take this into account– but if the stretching is the whole point, it seems like a perfect system would at least also take this into account.

The result of this failure in the system is that there are two different ways it actually encourages mediocre performance.  First off, on an individual level it rewards only paying attention to the areas that are monitored and ignoring the whole point of the thing.  Secondly, to whatever extent a person is competetive, it further benefits that person to seek out a score rather than do the exercise “correctly.”

My point is not that somebody ought to develop a better gaming system.  My point is that this is a way to look at our spititual lives.

Consider prayer.  There are things that we can monitor about others praying.  We can hear their words.  We can monitor their tone.  We can see if they kneel, if they fold their hands, if they quote scripture off the top of their heads.

It seems to me that all these things are like wieght distrubution on the half-moon yoga pose.  They are not completely irrelevant.  But nor are they the whole point.

The things that are the whole point, these things are not ones we can monitor: the content of their hearts, their intent, their attitudes…

We are not so crass as to give people points on a 0-100 point scale based on what we see of their prayers.  But we judge people nonetheless.  The situation is worse than just that the things we can observe are not the important things.  I’d suggest that it’s actually a temptation for us to put so much energy and time into the things that others will notice that we rob the things that are really important.  It’s like playing Wii fit, and not pushing myself to that fullest stretch, because I know that if I do give that full stretch then my balance will be all messed up and my score will be lower.

In the end fitness and faith shouldn’t be done for other people’s approval.  Those words, I suppose, are so much more difficult to live up to than they are to write.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

4 thoughts on “More on the Spirituality of Wii fit”

  1. Well, this certainly adds a new dimension to the the exortation that we enter our “prayer closets” where The Father only hears.

    Maybe you should try your Wii from there. i’m possitive you’ll find it challenging.


  2. But your question has a fascinating implication:
    Do you mean– gasp– that I could do these exercises without the wii fit at all? People could just do exercises to do exercises? Without the balance board, the wii mote, the guy on the tv screen telling me what I’m doing wrong?
    That’s crazy talk!
    Next, you’ll be telling me that people actually play things like tennis, baseball, and bowling with real balls in the real world.


  3. haha!

    I like the analogy, and think it works well.

    Once, when I was looking into grad schools, I considered a particular seminary until I found out that one of the requirements was that you check in with a faculty member weekly to make sure you had devotions every day for at least half an hour. It made me so mad, not because I don’t think we should be encouraged to set aside time for God every day, but because prescribing it like that seems to defeat the entire purpose.


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