Younger Next Year


Yes, you can be younger next year — not chronologically, but physically. And that’s what counts!

It is quite possible to feel better than you have in years, to be healthier, happier and more spiritually alive.

According to the authors of Younger Next Year, “most of us can be functionally younger every year for the next five or even ten years.

“That sounds like cruel nonsense or hype, but it’s true. Limited aspects of biological aging are immutable… but 70 percent of what you feel as aging is optional.”

What we can do as a community is to help each other realize this possibility.

Besides the physical benefits, there is an important spiritual dimension to physical health. St Paul says “We are the temple of the living God” (II Corinthians VI, 16), but our bodies are flowing temples, if you will.

For at least the past two centuries Western culture has treated the body as a machine. Modern medicine too often treats it as a machine we don’t really have to maintain because we can just repair parts when they break. Too often, Christianity has denied or even punished the body in the belief that we are made for the kingdom of heaven in the afterlife. But biology, cosmology and spirituality all refute this idea.

We are not machines living on the earth. We are an integral part of this world and the cosmos. Our bodies are not so much things as processes.

My favorite analogy is a whirlpool. None of us would claim that a whirlpool is separate from the river.

Similarly, we are not separate from the world from which we come. As Stephen J. Gould argues, we are actually elaborate collaborations among bacteria — our bodies contain about a trillion cells and ten trillion bacteria.

Our cells, the bacteria in our bodies, and the food from which we derive our energy are not really things, but processes flowing through our bodies… processes that are intrinsically tied to this world. Spiritually, the quality of our awareness is deeply dependent upon the health and vitality of processes moving through our bodies. If your stomach is upset (even slightly) or you are in pain, your awareness will attend to those disturbances rather than to the Divine.

The map we use as an Evolving Church comes from integral theory. This map stresses that there are four irreducible and mutually supporting dimensions of personal/spiritual development (“abundant life”):

Our individual, subjective experiences of life;
Our collective understanding of our world (culture);
The systems that structure our world (economic and political); and
Our individual physical presence.

In this church, we do a pretty good job attending to the first three. We now add the fourth dimension of personal/spiritual development: the health and well being of our physical bodies.

We begin Younger Next Year on March 25 with a presentation on nutrition from Dr. Ruth Urand (a naturopath). We will also introduce several folks who will help us find ways to become healthier. This may include walking or running groups, swimming, weight strengthening, dieting support, and examination of the assumptions that keep us unfit (Inquiry).

I hope you will all find a way to be involved so we can all feel healthier and be younger next year.

Blessings… Tom

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