Sunday, August 21, 2005

More from Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood

When a man thinks it is such a fine thing to have done right, he might almost as well have done wrong, for it shows he considers right something extra, not absolutely essential to human existence, not the life of a man (283).

An apt description of pride. MacDonald inverts many typical judgments in his books, showing how those attitudes and behaviors that we often justify or think of as less egregious can be even more destructive than the social behaviors we often judge more harshly.
Certainly one has no right to say what God is going to do with anyone till he knows it beyond a doubt [....] I mean we must take care of presumption when we measure God's plans by our theories (291).

The frequency with which we substitute our own judgments and assumptions for the will of God is one of the largest problems I see. It is so easy to think "God said" or "God wants" when what we mean is, "I think this must be what God..."

And I left the shop somewhat consoled for the pain I had given Catherine, which grieved me without making me sorry that I had occasioned it (295).

"Sorry" is one of those cheap words today, like Beonhoeffer's phrase, "cheap grace." Grieved is an interesting word choice here, implying a choice in how we think of things that is so often lacking in modern relationships.

For what I was delighted to be made sure of was that Tom at least knew that he did not know. For that is the very next step to knowing. Indeed, it may be said to be a more valuable gift than the other, being of general appliaction; for some quick people will understand many things very easily, but when they come to a thing that is beyond their present reach, will fancy they see a meaning in it, or invent one, or even--which is far worse--pronounce it nonsense; and, indeed, show themselves capable of any device for getting out of the difficulty except seeing and confessing to themselves that they are not able to understand it (297).

The thing that interests me here is MacDonald's claim that pronouncing it "nonsense" is far worse than even inventing a meaning. By this, I take him to mean that such an action can too easily become habit and make it difficult for us to ever learn from anything that is not easily accessible.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Holding onto Summer

Well faculty orientation is tomorrow, so I had to use my last full day of freedom to go to Raleigh and play Cedar Hills and Kentwood.

CH is one of my 5 favorite courses, but I confess I've been finding myself disatisfied with it the last few times I've played. Perhaps this is just displaced disatisfaction at myself for not being better, or perhaps it is just a fact that one's attitude towards a course changes depending on how often one plays it. Seems like when I first played Kentwood, I had played more wooded courses and thus the fairways seemed wide. Now I've played more open courses and things are a bit tighter.

Then again, maybe it's just more frustrating to hit a tree when you know that you could otherwise reach a hole than it is when you know that you would be struggling to get par anyway.

I shot a 57 at CH and a 49 at Kentwood. Had a chance to go 48, but bogeyed Hole 17. (A Kentwood bogey, bleh).

It's fun to shoot a low score, but sometimes I wonder if Kentwood is not bad for my game. It's all drive and putt. I rarely find myself with a new look or different approach. Sure is fun, though.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Apologia Pro Vita Sua (58-69)

This section was a bit drier for me, but there were still a few profitable passages for contemplation. Most of these dealt with the question of tone in the rhetoric that Newman recalls in dealing with the tract movement.
"If confidence in his position is, (as it is,) a first essential in the leader of a party, this Dr. Pusey possessed pre-eminently" (60).

Is this an essential? A "first" essential? What is the difference, if any, between confidence in one's position and dogmatism? I sometimes think that confidence in one's own position shuts one off from influence and correction, a place where I don't want my leaders to be. Then again, there is a truth here. It is hard to lead effectively if one is always second-guessing oneself. I guess I want a bit more balance than Newman does.
"[Dr. Pusey] saw that there ought to be more sobriety, more gravity, more careful pains, more sense of responsibility in the Tracts and in the whole Movement" (60).

I see some similarities between the Tracts and Internet communication, so this sentence resonates. I do think rhetoric can take on a different, nastier tone in these sorts of pseudo-public but rigidly separate communication methods. The biggest similarity is that one can too easily fall into the trap of thinking one is communicating with a link, a name, a post, rather than with another human being.
"[...] but the Via Media, as viewed as an integral system, has scarcely had existence except on paper" (64).

Ideas are nice. Having the "right" opinions is nice. How do they help people in their daily lives or bring people closer to not just salvation but also a fullness of life?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

More Doubles Musing

So I returned to Higher Ground on Friday for more doubles, but this time Cindy came with me and we requested to play together.

Together we shot -2. My partner from Tuesday had a new parter with whom he shot a -6.

This suggests to me that while one part of a doubles pair will always be superior to the other, it is hard to estimate how much of a round is merely what the better of the two players would play singles.

Certainly I (or my former partner) could have played worse than we did on Tuesday (I know I missed a few more putts for birdie), but I don't think it likely that he shot 8 strokes worse and I 12.

So there is something about not just who you get paired with but how complementary you are in your skills, temperament, and approach to the game.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What's a Good Doubles Score?

I've been playing more doubles this summer, and I've been pondering the question of what's a good score for me if I were playing someone equal in talent with myself.

When I'm playing with someone who is less skilled than myself, I feel like I should still be around or slightly better than my solo score. When I'm playing with someone better, I feel like I should add to their baseline score.

Today at O.T. Sloan, I tried an experiment. I played a round of self-doubles, where I had two throws and could take the better of the two. My singles round (playing just one shot, always the first shot) was -3 (51). My doubles score (taking two shots and playing the better of the two) was -10 (44). My best singles score on this course has been -6 (48).

Singles: 2-3-2 2-3-2 2-3-2 (21) 3-4-3 3-4-2 4-4-3 (51)
Self Doubles: 2-3-2 2-2-2 2-2-2 (19) 3-3-3 2-3-2 3-3-3 (44)

Of course this isn't exactly analogous, because making two throws in a row is not the same as making a throw after your partner has gone. Still, it was interesting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood (223-232)

Perhaps because it is less plot driven (so far) this novel has quite a few MacDonald gems in the so called digressions.

"I had no time to repent, only to thank God.
This line is spoken by a former sailor who relates taking the Lord's name in vain when he thinks he is about to drown. He continues to speak of the greater shame at realizing he doubted God than at the swearing itself. It is a nice, succinct portrait of someone close enough to God that he can feel his own repentance without God bullying him into it.

"You know besides that a small matter in which a principle is involved will reveal the principle, if attended to, just as well as a great one containing the same principle" (226).
If attended to...if attended to...that's such an important little modifier. What a carefully constructed and profound sentence--with implications for art.

"There are many things which a little learning, while it cannot really hide them, may make you less ready to see all at once" (228).

I'm stuck mulling over the qualifier "little." Will more learning make you more likely to see them? Less likely to be hindered by the learning? Is it the learning itself that hinders or the pride that uses the little learning as its primary shield from hard truth?

"If anybody cannot understand why I did so, I beg him to consider the matter. If then he cannot come to a conclusion concerning it, I doubt if any explanation of mine would greatly subserve his enlightenment" (231).
Be careful when arguing with fools; observers might not be able to tell the difference.

There is more here than just that, though. How quick we are to argue and counterargue and how little we actually "consider the matter." Perhaps that is why art is higher than criticism. It will not rush to cast its pearls before swine.

Drive For Show...

...but putt for dough, as the saying goes.

My recent success in doubles confirmed to me that putting covers a multitude of sins. I could not drive all the holes my partner could, but it was my ability to make some key 20-30 foot putts that could have made the difference between -11 and -14. Oh, I drove a couple too, but I just think there are more guys who can throw 350+ feet than can hit a 25 footer 80% of the time.

Perhaps it is time to break out the Ching portable and do some sustained putting practice.

Cape Fear Random Doubles; Higher Ground, Middle Creek, NC

Play in enough random doubles and eventually you'll get paired with someone really good.

My partner and I took second in this event with a -14 (40). Good stuff. My initial impression was that I was a bit bummed because at least two of the holes we missed were shorter ones. Then again, several of the holes we made were longer ones that my partner drove. We were one off the lead.

My partner definitely carried me, but I did make several contributions, drives and putts. It felt good to contribute to a great round.

The course is a private course and it was a bit wet from rain earlier today.

I took greetings from Sheba the cat to Max and Fannie.

Higher Ground:
3-2-2 3-2-2 2-2-2 OUT (20)
2-2-2 2-2-3 2-2-3 IN (20) 40

I won two hot stamped discs; a DX Orc (thought I'd try it) and a DX Roc (can never have too many Rocs).

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Apologia Pro Vita Sua (50-57)

"Here I make a remark: persistence in a given belief is no sufficient test of its truth; but departure from it is a least a slur upon the man who has felt so certain about it " (50).

The first half of the phrase is the most resonant to me. In these polarized days, I feel like I see, more and more, the inability to argue for truth in any other way except to point to how vehemently a belief is held or how long it has been held.

"But in 1827 I accepted eagerly the stanza in the Christian Year, which many people thought too charitable, 'Speak gently of thy sister's fall'" (53).

Wow. May people think too charitable indeed. I can think of very few people in my public or private acquaintance who strive to speak gently about much of anything, least of all another's fall. And by speaking gently I don't mean equivocating. This word is a strong one. It bears thinking upon and trying to put into practice. It may not always lead to reconciliation with the person or object of one's disagreement as it did in Newman's case, but surely it leaves open greater avenues and possibilities for this to happen than does the hardening that comes with always speaking and thinking so uncharitably.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A (Very) Good Day at Buckhorn

Shot a 57 on my first 18, but I felt good and seemed to be just missing, so I played a second round.

Carded a 22 on the front 9 (-5). Given the course and the variety of shots I had to make (gently sloping downhill with Sidewinder, flick drive with Valkyrie, elevated right turn with Leopard, short cutting approach with Whippet, tight drive to penninsula with Roc and putting, putting, puttin), if it wasn't the best 9 holes of golf I've played, it was certainly a first ballot hall of famer.

How good were these nine holes, and how do I make the distinction between an "in the zone" round and merely getting better?

Over the preceding 8 rounds I played at Buckhorn, I averaged 29.52 on these holes, making my front nine a full 7.5 strokes below my average. Unheard of and unprecedented.

That I couldn't back it up on the back 9 with anything more than a +4 to finish -1 overall was mildly irksome (If I could have combined the back nine of my first round with the front nine of the second, I would have shot a 50, bettering my previous best score by 5 strokes) but not enough to cancel out the exhiliration of a half a round where everything was clicking. While this sort of improvement in score might happen if I returned to a course I've only played once several years ago, to have such a leap on a course one plays regularly is pretty heady stuff.

As it is, I took two strokes off my best score, even losing 1 to a water penalty by a measly 5 inches and another to an unfortunate roll after hitting a tree.

So maybe I'm getting better, maybe I'm learning the course, or maybe I just had a good day.