Dinks and Smashes II

Musings, thoughts and rants on the game of pickleball…

Ratings:pickleball = handicap:golf

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While I appreciate the need for ratings in organizing tournaments and some meet-ups, I don’t take them as seriously as many recreational players do. In the course of one game, I can swing from play consistent for a 2.5 player to play suitable for a 4.0 player. I rate my game as “consistently inconsistent.”When I played pick-up basketball, I and other players did not have a court rating.

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Huge fan of Ebony J. She won the singles competition at the recent Runnemede tournament that included men. Ebony has the potential and skills to be a pickleball player at a very high level. She’s just in high school and already is quite the athlete in track and basketball. She has incredible court coverage and a booming serve. A very pleasant and mature young woman too…

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Maybe it’s the pickleball company I keep but I have only seen maybe five players use the drop serve since it was approved for play. I also understand that it has been rarely used by advanced or professional players in tournaments. The drop serve can be an effective remedy if one has the serving “yips” as it mirrors the groundstroke motion. I’m not sure its effectiveness as an offensive weapon and that may be the reason we don’t see it used in tournaments by players currently.

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To get a fast start, practice your serves before you play! In most pickleball games, I see that players warm up by practicing their dinks or ground strokes but rarely their serves. Games then start out with service faults committed by players who did not calibrate their serves due to wind or lack of practice. 

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There are no shortages of choices for pickleball paddles. There are 964 approved pickleball paddles on the USA Pickleball website; 42 new paddle models have been introduced since the start of 2021. I think if we took a survey of pickleball players, many have two or more paddles. The paddle market is growing, paddle costs are rising and more companies are producing them. As an aside, I am very happy with my Rogue 2 paddle from Players Pickleball that I have used for over a year.

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The addition of new pickleball courts (River Road, Brush Hollow etc.) in South Jersey will relieve overcrowding and help service the demand for venues to play. That is a very good thing. On the other side, it may fragment what used to be a pickleball community that congregated en masse at Lions Den, Gloucester Township and Marlton Field House a few years ago.

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Ben Johns is easily the best men’s pickleball player today. At last week’s U.S. Open Pickleball Championships, he won the Men’s Pro Singles, Men’s Pro Doubles (with Colin Johns) and Mixed Doubles Pro (with Simone Jardin). I saw the streamed Pro Singles championship where he played Tyson McGuffin. McGuffin played out of his mind the first game of the best of three and won. However Johns recovered and took the last two games and the championship. However Johns is not pickleball’s GOAT (greatest of all time) just like George Mikan wasn’t the GOAT in the early days of the NBA. It’s way too early in the sport for that designation, but Johns does close out matches like Michael Jordan closed out basketball games.

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Being an “older player,” it’s hard to identify with 23 year old Ben Johns. I do enjoy watching Scott Moore who won the Men’s Senior Pro Doubles with Rick Witsken and the Mixed Senior Pro Doubles with Eva Welsher at the U.S.Open Pickleball Championships. Moore is 57 and his instructional videos on YouTube are excellent. Moore was also involved in a singles match against Simone Jardin that mimicked the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match many decades ago. You can see a video of the match here. The result may surprise you!

“Grand Canyon 2014 Pickleball Tournament” by Michael & Sherry Martin is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Below is a guidance list from the USA Pickleball Rule Book for common scenarios that happen in many recreational pickleball games:

1. Make prompt calls  to stop play on balls that roll onto to your court to eliminate the ‘two chance option’. For example, a player cannot claim a hinder from a ball rolling on the court after they hit a ball ‘out’; they gave up their ability to call the hinder by choosing instead to hit the ball.

2. Call the entire score before the ball is served.

3. Signal “not ready” prior to the start of the score being called. One of the following signals must be used to indicate “not ready”: 1) raising the paddle above the head, 2) raising the non-paddle hand above the head, 3) completely turning their back to the net.

4. Except the serve, any ball in play that lands in the court or touches any court line is in.

5. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made. Any ball that cannot be called “out” will be considered “in.” A player cannot claim a replay because the ball was not seen or there is uncertainty.

6. A player/team may ask the opponent’s opinion to make the line call on the player’s end of the court. If requested and the opponent makes a clear “in” or “out” call, it must be accepted. If the opponents cannot make a clear “in” or “out” call, then the ball is ruled as being “in” on the receiving team. The moment the receiving player/team asks for the opponent’s opinion, they lose their right to make any subsequent “in” or “out” call for that rally.

7. All “out” calls must be made “promptly”; otherwise, the ball is presumed to still be in play. “Promptly” is defined as calling “out” prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before the ball becomes dead.

8. While the ball is in the air, if a player yells “out,” “no,” “bounce it,” or any other words to communicate to their partner that the ball may be out, it shall be considered player communication only and not considered a line call.

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I find myself awestruck not so much by the skills of advanced Pickleball players I see but by the progress of beginners and novices. Once such player is Celeste Kleaver who started out under the tutelage of Cookie Sey at Browning Road and who now performs as a competitive intermediate level player. When she started to play at Browning Road, she possessed the motivation and enthusiasm to get better. She was always asking how she could do things better. My concern was her footwork, balance and positioning. However partnered with her in a recent game, I saw Celeste digging out shots aimed at her feet and returning sharply angled shots at her opponents for winners. She does all this with a smile on her face and with a joy for the game that I could only envy.

Blog Buffet

Ruminations on various topics…

Instead of raising and lowering our U.S. flags, keep them at permanent half staff. We are having daily shootings, acts of terrorism and other violence. The half staffed flags are a symbol and a constant reminder of how this country has fallen into shame and disrepute.

Choose your martyrs and outrage carefully! Not every police shooting is an unjustified act or murder.

A five second slip of the tongue can undermine 20, 30, 50 years of exemplary behavior and reputation OR can propel you to a career at Fox or Newsmax.

The line between flirtation and harassment often falls on the perceived interest level of the person receiving the attention.

I think it’s very possible that what we don’t know about what we don’t know is greater than what we know about what we don’t know.

Anyone else notice that any UFOs captured on photos and films are not the same? They differ in size, speed, shape. It’s as if the aliens have compact, economy and luxury space crafts.

Maybe the reason that aliens don’t make landings on earth is the same reason championship sports teams did not stop at the White House between 2017-2020—-they did not like the company.

To the best of my knowledge, there has been only one sore Presidential election loser. Not even Richard Nixon in 1960, who could have easily contested disputed votes in Illinois, raised an objection. Nixon also certified John F. Kennedy’s election.

Those who try to persuade by faith alone are poorly armed against those who persuade or argue with knowledge and facts. An argument made without knowledge or facts is like firing a gun without bullets.

2021: Athletes and celebrities acting or wanting to be political leaders. Politicians content to be celebrities.

Everything we were taught about money, not that long ago, including the conventional financial advice to avoid debt, keep your money in a bank savings account, and invest long term in blue chip stocks has been swept away by bitcoin, NFG and cryptocurrency. There are now two types of financial investors: those deceived by the magic and those that understand the sleight of hand.

 “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.” 

Lost Religion and Other Beliefs

All religions promise a reward for excellence is of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding.

Schopenhauer

Interesting article titled “Can the Meritocracy Find God” in the April 10 edition of The New York Times by Ross Douthat, a Christian journalist who is trying to imagine a scenario where “not just would-be intellectuals but the wider elite-university-educated population, the meritocrats or “knowledge workers,” the “professional-managerial class” would convert or turn to religion.

He cites considerable obstacles, including that the “American educated class is deeply committed to a moral vision that regards emancipated, self-directed choice as essential to human freedom and the good life” and the meritocracy’s reliance on science, “which regards strong religious belief as fundamentally anti-rational, miracles as superstition, the idea of a personal God as so much wishful thinking.”

Douthat expresses a concern about the “deep secularization of the meritocracy.” He is disappointed that people who could have pursued religious careers as priests, ministers and rabbis have turned to secular positions as social workers, professors and psychologists. Instead of running religious missions, these secularists have started and invested in their own foundations.

The essay sparked an interesting online debate from readers and I have posted selected comments below. I will complete this post by adding my thoughts at the end. Comments by New York Times readers are in italics:

We’ve come too far to believe in the mean-spirited garbage spewed by self-serving individual sects. When God is the God of every human being, bar none, then people will flock to houses of worship.

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All religions rely on blind faith and magical beliefs where as non believers rely on science and facts.

After years and years of of seeing the damage caused by religion to humans throughout history is it any wonder that people are finding that they do not need religion to be Good people or do good for their fellow humans which is progress we should all be happy about.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Seneca

This couldn’t be more blatantly true than in today’s politics.

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Raised Catholic, the teachings of Jesus are engrained in the fiber of who I am and how I live my life and treat others. It is the basis of my morality. But, I think Jesus was a Jewish social justice reformer, not the son of a supernatural creator.   It’s the very conscience I developed as a Catholic that forced me to leave the Church.I just can’t participate in the hypocrisy, sexism and homophobia of the leaders and the institution.

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The Christian church was instrumental in colonialism. The Christian church led the way to anti-Semitism. The Bible belt in the US led the way to slavery, Jim Crow, and white supremacy. The world-wide Roman Catholic church issues pieties while continuing to downplay sexual abuse of children by priests. Why would anyone look to the church for moral guidance? For spiritual guidance?

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The churches have only themselves to blame for the decline of church membership: Pedophile priests and cover up of them in the Catholic Church; evangelicals supporting the anti-Christian values of Trump and Republican party. The “prosperity gospel”?  It’s an oxymoron.

No, the secularization of America won’t reverse until the institutions of Christianity and their leaders start talking and acting like Christ. The present hypocrisy is too blatant. The lack of humility is too off-putting. 

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If more people were actually educated in scriptural studies, there probably would be many fewer adherents to the claim that the bible is the inerrant “word of God.”

Example:  King Solomon is only a fictional character. There is no record of this so-called great and powerful monarch in the considerable historical documents of the period in which he would have lived and reigned.

Furthermore,  in Israel, perhaps the most excavated region on the planet, archaeologists have not uncovered a single bit of evidence of the vast temple he supposedly built. Apparently, the temple existed only in the minds of those who wrote the books of Chronicles and Kings and described the edifice in great detail. 

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I was raised a Catholic and a Christian as was Mr. Douthat.  At some point I determined that, while I deeply admired the teaching and example of Jesus, I did not think he was god and I did not think he believed he was god so I am not religious any longer. 

As my life has progressed I am amazed at how much Jesus’ teachings have stuck with me and at how little Jesus’ teachings have stuck with Christian believers.

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The problem, Brother Douthat, is that the atheists and secularists in this country generally act a lot more ‘Christian’ than the ‘Christians’ in the pews.

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What I still can’t fathom about Ross–and the many others that lament the decline of organized religion, Christianity or otherwise–is the presumption that the possession of an organized religious epistemology and creed is prerequisite for a moral outlook.

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But I still practiced my religious beliefs until religious leaders backed the former president 4 years ago and then last year. Even against all he did, including his horrendous handling of Covid in the name of economics. Some of these religious leaders even went along with his anti-mask rhetoric and mass gatherings.

The former president was not religious, he is a womanizer, he is rude and obnoxious to everyone. Yet many religious leaders still backed him. 

Religious leaders chose to back a non-religious leader over a religious leader.

To me that says cult.

Religious leaders need to support candidates that represent who will help the people.

Until that happens more people will become disenfranchised as I have.

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As a science PhD, there is a very simple reason why I don’t “get God”. It is because I prefer an evidence-based worldview. And, by evidence, I mean something that is verifiable and falsifiable, and does not just consist of murky warm feelings, vague philosophical arguments, or references in ancient writings.

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My Thoughts: I was baptized and raised as a Catholic. I attended Catholic grade schools and high school. Despite all the sermons and religion classes, I rejected Catholicism when I was 16. I did not accept that Catholicism was the one true religion and that those who were not Catholics were destined to limbo instead of heaven after they died.

I did not buy into papal infallibility and the church’s positions on birth control, divorce, pre-marital sex, abortion and women’s role in the clergy. The parish and diocese I belonged to were hotbeds of child abuse cases committed by priests. People were aware that these incidents were occurring and nothing happened until much later. The monsignor at my parish was more interested in soliciting contributions than saving souls and protecting children from his demented priests. The more I read into the church’s history, the more disillusioned I became.

I looked into other religions and found them wanting. I realized that the bible was part history, part fable, part mythology, part propaganda but certainly not credibly God’s word. I had not yet rejected God’s existence but I grew doubtful. I was uncertain and continued to read, study and ruminate about God as I got older.

Many of the people who I find devoutly religious experienced a momentous, sometimes catastrophic personal event or strong feeling that convinced them that God exists. I never had the feeling or maybe I ignored or misinterpreted it. I don’t have a God gene. I find an empty church more of a religious experience than a full one. I think the practice of meditation is more useful than prayer.

As I read religious history and literature further, I was more impressed with the arguments of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Steven Hawking and other agnostics/atheists/scientists that there is/was no God.

All that being said, I would not criticize anyone for their belief in God alone. I will criticize certain unwise or irrational actions, beliefs and deeds based on contorted religious thinking. I find support by evangelicals for Donald Trump and many of his policies reprehensible. 

Last point, I try to live by the tenets of the prayer of St Francis Assisi. One does not need to belong to a religion to perform good acts. One just needs to be a caring and moral human being.

Early Spring Muses

The most impressive NCAA college basketball player this year is a woman, Paige Bueckers who plays for Connecticut. Only a freshman, she seems to be a better all around game than Diana Taurasi, who I had considered the best women’s college basketball player that I have seen.

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With the announcement of the resignation of Roy Williams at North Carolina, the five best college basketball coaches in my lifetime:

  1. John Wooden
  2. Mike Krzyzewski
  3. Dean Smith
  4. Roy Williams
  5. Jay Wright (this choice may be a bit premature but I wanted a Big 5 coach on my list)

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I would not need to sit on a jury for an hour, a day, a month, two months or however long the trial of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd takes. I had the correct verdict figured out in nine minutes and 29 seconds.

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Many years ago I bought and read a book by Lawrence Shames and Peter Barton titled Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived. This book reflects the thoughts, actions and philosophies of Barton, a successful businessman who was dying from cancer in his early 50s. Barton began his book,  “There’s not one thing I regret or wish I could redo. There’s not one thing I wished I done, and didn’t. I’m contented and fulfilled.

Barton died at age 51.

Here are some sections of the book I have underlined as constant reference as I get older…

The stories of our lives have a due date, like books at the library.

A problem that can be fixed by money… is not a problem.

If I have anything at all to teach about life, it probably comes down to these two simple but far-reaching notions: 

Recognizing the difference between a dumb risk and a smart one, and 

Understanding when you need to change direction, and having the guts to do it.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t have a bad day for the rest of my life. If someone was wasting my time, i’d excuse myself and walk away. If a situation bothered me or refused to get resolved, I’d shrug and move on. I’d squander no energy on petty annoyances, poison no minutes with useless regret.

I would only work for someone I thought was wildly smart.

Duration, for him (Barton), is no longer quite the same as it is for most of us; he sees time not in terms of days or hours but in episodes of energy, bursts of attention.

There’s just one final thing I want to say. Probably it’s how everyone wants to be remembered. But that’s OK. I’ve said from the start that I make no claim of being special; I’m just one more person dying, revisiting his life. I think my father would’ve said the same thing, in the same words, If he had had the time. It’s simply this: I really tried. I did my best.”

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Coincidently I have just finished a book by William R. Irvine titled the Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer and More Resilient. I reommend the book. Barton epitomizes the stoic philosophy that Irvine promotes. Barton comments on his acceptance of his diagnosis and prognosis, “My frame of mind was something I could still control,. Doing so would be a sort of victory I was not accustomed to valuing – – a totally inward, private victory – – but a legitimate accomplishment nevertheless. I resolved to control my own discomfort, to rise above them if I possibly could. In doing so, I came to understand the deep truth that, while pain may be unavoidable, suffering is largely optional.

Dinks and Smashes

Now that Pennsauken has the new courts on River Road, I am somewhat nostalgic remembering the start of my pickleball playing at the Browning Road courts. Cookie Sey introduced a number of us to the game including Rita and Art Lattanzi, John Babcock, Bill M., Celeste Bub, Fran Mick, Lisa Heisler, Shira Carroll  etc. Lots of good memories, great people…Browning Road was our entree to other pickleball venues like Lions Den etc.

Every local pickleball venue (DeCou, Berlin, Hainesport, Pennsauken, Runnemede, Willingboro, etc.) has its own unique personality and characters. There are varieties of competitiveness, social interaction, formality, protocol and atmosphere. Each site is blessed with a good Meet-Up host.

Finally a pickleball player whose BMI is closer to many of us! Eden Lica is 6’5 and about 250 lbs. Despite his size, he has very good foot movement on the court as a singles player and he offers a nice touch and a finesse game to go with his power shots. Watch Lica’s recent singles match against Frank Anthony Davis at Delray Beach to get an idea of his agility and touch. Video starts with Lica-Davis match and continues for about 21 minutes. Note: lots of good action of other players including Ben Johns throughout video…

Experiment of one: I’ve played with a $150 Selkirk paddle but it doesn’t translate to a 100% performance improvement from playing earlier with a $75 graphite paddle. It’s often the archer, not the arrow.

Locally, informal scouting reports on players are being shared even at the intermediate level. The word of mouth reports are not only based on a player’s skills and performance but also, ominously for some, about their attitude and temperament on the court. Anecdotally I’m sad to hear stories where some players are made to feel uncomfortable because they may not be at the playing level of their fellow or lady competitors.

I commend Mindee Goldstein Hewitt for her continued improvement. She’s a pickleball dynamo and whirlwind. Not big in size, but big in heart. I’ve played with her on the Pennsauken courts. She is about a foot smaller than me but possesses a spirit and enthusiam for the game that complements her ever increasing level of skills and performance. She always has a smile on her face and has an energy level that belies her age.

If you measure your game solely by wins and losses instead of the opportunities for improvement, having fun and meeting friends/new people then you don’t understand the game.

The current performance gaps between Ben Johns from other men’s professionals and Simone Jardin from other women’s professionals are huge. Both are dominating pickleball like an early Mike Tyson with boxing and Simone Biles in gymnastics. Both players need rivalries and with new talent moving in from tennis and other sports, they soon may find it. Johns is dominating current pickleball like Bjorn Borg dominated tennis in the 1970s.

I’m amused that some of the topics (paddles, illegal serves, rules interpretions) on various Facebook pickleball forums draw as much heat as those on political topics.

I’m noticing that the streams and commentary on YouTube and Facebook from different pickleball venues and tournaments continue to improve. Those improvements will generate a wider audience and interest from casual fans.

The one exercise that may be most helpful for pickleball players is hitting a speed bag. Many pickleball shots, at the net, are like a boxer’s jab, requiring no wind up but quick flicks, reactions and jabs. Advanced pickleball players need the hand speeds and reflexes possessed by top amateur and professional boxers when parrying hard shots and volleys at the net.

My pickleball goals for this spring and summer are simple. I want to reconnect and play with old friends who I have not seen due to the Covid outbreak, improve my serve, try singles play and stay healthy.

See you on the courts!

Thoughts on the Fly

Close friends, family and even spouses may know 60-80% of who we really are. No one knows 100% of us, not even ourselves.

Emotionally it is easier to give help than to accept it. Giving is an expression of the heart;  accepting often requires the surrender of ego and pride.

The endings of most friendships and relationships are not mutual decisions decided concurrently. Often one of the parties finds it an unpleasant surprise…

Strangely enough in retirement, what I miss most are not the paychecks or the benefits but the memories of the joys and anticipations of a two week vacation from work.

A very useful and unique skill I possess is the ability to quickly retrieve my wife’s train of thought, without prompt, from a conversation or point she was making from a day, weeks or months before.

Does anybody remember the excitement and feeling of accomplishment from the first time they were able to ride a two wheeled bike? Does anyone remember their first bike like they remember their first car?

A great coach teaches not only how his team should win with class but also to lose with dignity.

After one retires, does one really need a watch? It’s like a prison ankle bracelet that serves little purpose once one escapes the confines of working 8 to 5.

Sage wisdom from a New York Times Article 7 Questions 75 Artists 1 Bad Year

I’ve made peace with myself. I chose to no longer stress over the things I have no control over.

Tiwa Savage, musician

I have to have a thousand bad ideas before I can get to a good one.

Aaron Sorkin, writer and director

I’m writing a book, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started over from scratch. But the bad ideas lead to the best ones. Sometimes you have to break down to break through.

Amanda Gorman, poet

What They Said

Smart commentary and analysis by writers much smarter and more thoughtful than yours truly…

Refusing to wear a mask has become a badge of political identity, a barefaced declaration that you reject liberal values like civic responsibility and belief in science. (Those didn’t used to be liberal values, but that’s what they are in America 2021.)

Unfortunately, identity politics can do a lot of harm when it gets in the way of dealing with real problems. I don’t know how many people will die unnecessarily because the governor of Texas has decided that ignoring the science and ending the mask requirement is a good way to own the libs. But the number won’t be zero.

Unmasked: When Identity Politics Turns Deadly Paul Krugman New York Times

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The Pew Research Center found that the number of nones in the population as a whole increased nine percentage points from 2009 to 2019. The main reasons that nones are unaffiliated are that they question religious teachings, or they don’t like the church’s stance on social issues.

There is a chasm between the vast scope of our needs and what influencers can possibly provide. We’re looking for guidance in the wrong places. Instead of helping us to engage with our most important questions, our screens might be distracting us from them. Maybe we actually need to go to something like church?

Contrary to what you might have seen on Instagram, our purpose is not to optimize our one wild and precious life. It’s time to search for meaning beyond the electric church that keeps us addicted to our phones and alienated from our closest kin.

Influencers Are the New Televangelists Leigh Stein New York Times

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Evangelicalism in America, however, has come to be defined by its anti-intellectualism. The style of the most popular and influential pastors tend to correlate with shallowness: charisma trumps expertise; scientific authority is often viewed with suspicion. So it is of little surprise that American evangelicals have become vulnerable to demagoguery and misinformation….. In 1994, Mark Noll, a historian who was then a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, the preëminent evangelical liberal-arts institution, published “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” In the opening sentence of the book’s first chapter, he writes, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

Recently, some pastors and other evangelical leaders have begun to express alarm at how unmoored some members of their congregations have become. More leaders in the American church need to recognize the emergency, but, in order for evangelicals to rescue the life of the mind in their midst, they need to acknowledge that the church is missing a vital aspect of worshipping God: understanding the world He made.

The Wasting of the Evangelical Mind The New Yorker · by Michael Luo · March 4, 2021

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The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.

I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.

A GOP that once prided itself on its intellectual debates is now ruled by the turgid formulations of what the Soviets would have called their “leading cadres,” including ideological watchdogs such as Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin. Like their Soviet predecessors, a host of dull and dogmatic cable outlets, screechy radio talkers, and poorly written magazines crank out the same kind of fill-in-the-blanks screeds full of delusional accusations, replacing “NATO” and “revanchism” with “antifa” and “radicalism.”

The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid. They blame spies and provocateurs for the Capitol riot, and they are obsessed with last summer’s protests (indeed, they are fixated on all criminals and rioters other than their own) to a point that now echoes the old Soviet lingo about “antisocial elements” and “hooligans.” They blame their failures at the ballot box not on their own shortcomings, but on fraud and sabotage as the justification for a redoubled crackdown on democracy.

The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages The Atlantic · by Tom Nichols · February 25, 2021

Modern Day Icarus

But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possess that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?” 

― Amie Kaufman

The fortunes of men do not move in a straight line. There are dips of fortune and misfortune that follow like a timeline graph of the S&P market performance. What and who goes up, inevitably fall, at least temporarily. For public figures, in particular, falls and misfortunes are amplified as they are publicized, criticized and posterized.

Failures and misfortunes proceeded by hype, hubris and arrogance are replete from the past. Politics is a veritable quicksand of past victims of questionable judgement and behavior including Richard Nixon, John Edwards, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer,  and Oliver North. Sports and media icons of fallen fortunes include Pete Rose, O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby and Lori Laughlin.

Comeuppance often is self inflicted. Poor judgment by words or actions or can often alter the flight of one’s career or legacy.  The sun melted the wings of Icarus when he flew too close to the sun. Legacies and reputations crash when their victims flew too far from truth, probity, decency and humility.

Five current examples of contemporary Icarus like behavior:

Jacob Peter Gowy‘s The Flight of Icarus
  1. Donald Trump: His pride was so damaged that he decided to lie and obfuscate about the results of his re-election defeat. Worse, Trump was able to dupe sycophants and crazed zealots to an attempted overthrow of the government, rejection of election results and the assassinations of Congressional political leaders.
  2. Lou Dobbs: Never met a crazy conspiracy theory or theorist he did not like or have on his show. More intimate with Trump than Melania. Confirmation of H.L. Mencken adage: “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” 
  3. Lindsay Graham: More flip-flops than a boardwalk in the summer. Once respected for his bipartisanship, he once rose on the wings of a John McCain friendship and principles; today, Graham’s descent coincides with his support of those elements, policies and people that McCain despised.
  4. Curt Schilling: What you say has consequences. A Hall of Famer based on his Major League Baseball performance. Off the field, his comments on same sex marriage and Muslims project him as a minor leaguer bust in the fields of politics and culture.
  5. Carson Wentz: Once the Franchise, now soon to be one of the great disappointments in Philadelphia sports history like Markelle Fultz, Shawn Bradley, Mike Mamula and Kevin Allen.

Sage 3

Seeking the wisdom of the past to explain the present…

News HeadlineWisdom (from the Ages)
Fox News cancels Lou Dobbs’ show; pro-Trump host not expected to be back on air. (LA Times)The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
— JK Galbraith
Trump’s attempts to overturn the election have cost taxpayers more than $519 million so far, Washington Post finds. (Business Insider)“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” 
Groucho Marx
(Rep. Marjorie Taylor) Greene apologizes to GOP colleagues — and gets standing ovation. (The Hill)“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” 
― Albert Einstein
‘No regrets’: Evangelicals and other faith leaders still support Trump after deadly US Capitol attack. (USA Today)“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.” 
― Christopher Hitchens
Poll: 64 percent of GOP voters say they would join a Trump-led new party (The Hill)“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”  H.L. Mencken
Supreme Court Rules Against Calif., Doubles Down On Religious Rights Amid Pandemic (NPR)Nowadays, science provides better and more consistent answers, but people will always cling to religion, because it gives comfort, and they do not trust or understand science.—-Stephen Hawking
2 more Trump supporters who took a private jet to Washington, DC, have been charged in the Capitol riot. (Business Insider)“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
― George Carlin

Senescence: Round 2

Some additional Pensées on the art of aging and other ruminations…Earlier Pensées found here

The best thing that we can receive are not presents, but simply “presence”.

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While I sadly accept the fate of lost friendships by death, I continually mourn lost friends due to distance, dispute or their disinterest. 

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Young broken hearts quickly recover; older hearts rarely…

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Memory is a funny thing. It vividly remembers the wink of an eye from a pretty girl 50 years ago but can’t remember what it had for lunch yesterday.

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In every real man, a child is hidden who…misses the comfort of hugs and reassurances of parents, siblings, relatives and friends no longer alive.

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As a young child, I treasured a pocket watch as my timepiece, today I just treasure peaceful time.

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One may try so hard to be liked by everyone that one can forget to take the time to like themselves.

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The average older guy’s daily wardrobe often can fit into the locker he had in high school.

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30 minutes of personal or phone conversation > dozens of text and Facebook messages

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On long solo walks, I find myself rarely traveling alone…

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40+years of marriage: Life accomplishment = .400 batting average: baseball. Both achievements deserve recognition in their respective Hall of Fames.

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Linus has his security blanket; older Americans, nostalgia.

Photo by Daniel Frese from Pixels