Boredom, Hell, and Basketball

Boredom. What does it mean to be bored and can we agree what it means?  Is it okay to be bored? Are we missing something important if we’re bored? Are we missing something important if we’re NOT bored? If we don’t allow ourselves time for boredom, give our brains a rest? 

During this pandemic, in the midst of despair, grief, and  touch deprivation, there is also boredom. There are a spate of resources cropping up to address this issue, including this one:  

I can’t imagine being bored, because apparently as an enneagram 7 I have a well honed ability to avoid boredom at all costs. *

*  What can be fascinating about the Enneagram is the gentle warm feeling when you are described in phrases that ring true and stroke the ego just a whisper.  “ You enjoy talking enthusiastically about the ideas and possibilities that fill your head.

Yeah, that’s me; so many ideas, ideas for plays, ideas for books, ideas for producing new works, ideas for a vast comedic musical based on the entire Western Church History. ** I wish there were three of me, because there just isn’t time to bless the world with all of my great ideas.

** Actual idea with pages of notes and research, 20 minutes complete. 

See what I did there? I dropped a nugget of an idea, hoping there will be many who shout, “Ted, what a fascinating, intriguing, truly brilliant idea!” When can we see this??!! Is there video?! How do you come up with all these ideas? What a brain !”

But, a description of an Enneagram 7 includes: “You fantasize about your world being delightful, enticing and pleasing to avoid experiencing boredom, pain and the daunting aspects of life.”  “In many cases boredom may be suppressed anxiety. 

Huh oh, anxiety, that makes me…well, anxious. Distraction…distraction…distraction where are thou? Where is that Sporcle trivia game?

*Rabbit Trail* When playing baseball trivia on Sporcle, spelling the names of players correctly is crucial. So you need to know the Polish contingent  Kluszewski, ( the S before the Z ), Coveleski, Mazaroski, Yastrzemski ( occasionally you can use his nickname Yaz, but shouldn’t it be Yas?  Probably, but you can see Yas doesn’t land as hard as Yazzzzz)  The Latina contingent, Morales, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Vizquel. The wave of Italian immigrants whose sons became enamored of the game, Lazzeri, Dimaggio ( 1 M, 2 Gs ) Cavarretta, Crosetti. Then there is Schoendienst, Buehrle, Heilmann ( e before i, 2 Ns).  If you know the answer, but can’t get the spelling right, do you pause the game to take the time to go to Baseball Reference ( the 7th greatest invention of all time, right after long pants )  to check the spelling? 

Stottlemeyer? Nope doesn’t work.

Stottelmeyer, nope.  

Stottelmyre…oh hell I’ll look it up!! 

Of course, Stottlemyer! Who incidentally debuted in 1964 with the Yankees, during their last winning season until 1976. Am I remembering correctly he pitched only on weekends because he was in the National Guard? Or was that Ken Holzman? Ernie Broglio? Jerry Koosman?

Note: I’ve played Sporcle baseball trivia  so often that once, when I needed to type the country Venezuela, I wrote Valenzuela and could not for the life of me remember the country’s spelling- but the Mexican pitcher from the 80’s? Yeah, I got that covered. 

 *End Long Rabbit Trail*

Many of us might have experienced the boredom of church as kids, and to be honest, maybe as adults. I remember during early high school sitting in the last pew in our tiny church in Pottstown Pa, perhaps melting crayons on the clunky, primitive sound console, stifling laughter at whatever teenage boys find funny, and desperately wishing for the sermon to be finished. During those years our pastor was my great uncle, who paradoxically combined the personal warmth he shared with my grandmother and the harsh judgmental legalism of many in our Mennonite denomination.  That will snap your head around. 

During one of those times of un-airconditioned  misery in late summer, I invented a basketball game using the Bible. Bear with me here. Take 15 verses of a book of the Bible, and note how many times a letter appears more than once in a word. There are 7 letters of the alphabet that occur in words in duplicate more than any other. They are: 

E

A

S

T

I

O

This is not necessarily the result of  scientific research, I was 14.  I had just learned how reproduction works—after which there wasn’t room in my brain for much else. But that’s another blog. 

Rules of the Game:

  • If a letter appears more one once, it’s a basket- 2 points. Three times, a basket and a freethrow- 3 points. 4 times, two baskets- 4 points. 5 times, 2 baskets and a free throw- 5 points.   
  • So in a word such as ministered;  2 points for “i”, 2 points for “e.”

(NOTE: E is usually the leading scorer. I picture them as a “gunner”, not looking to pass, usually interested in his own stats, ie., World B Free or Dominique Wilkins.) 

  • Ground Rule: 15 verses for a game, replicating the college game in the early 70’s, no three pointer. 

Match One

The Book of Genesis 1:1-15 vs. The Gospel of John 1: 1-15  NIV (New International Version)

John 1:1-15

In the beginning 3 points for “n” was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.  3 points for “n”  3 Through him all things were 2 for E made; without 2 for t him nothing was made that 2 for t has been 2 for e made. 4 In him was life, and that 2 for t life was the light of all mankind 2 for n  5 The light shines 2 for s in the darkness 2 for s, and the darkness 2 for s has not overcome 2 for e [a] it.6 There 2 for e  was a man sent from God whose name was John.

He came as a witness 2 for s  to testify 2 for t concerning 3 for n that 2 for t light, so that 2 for t through him all might believe 3 for e . 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness 2 for s to the light.9 The true light that 2 for t gives light to everyone 3 for e was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize 2 for e him.

11 He came to that 2 for t which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive 3 for e him, to those who believed 3 for e in his name, he gave the right to become 2 for e children of God— 13 children born not of natural 2 for a descent 2 for e, nor of human decision 2 for i or a husband’s  2 for s will, but born of God.

*and on it goes… *

Final Boxscore:

E 2 2 2 2o 2o 2 2o 2 2 2 2 2 2 2       14 Field Goals  3 Free Throws   31 points 

A 2 1 Field Goals 2 points 

S 2 2 2 2 4 Field Goals 8 points 

T 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 9 Field Goals 18 points 

I 2 2 2 Field Goals             4 points

O

N 2o 2o 2o 2o 4 Field Goals  4 Free throws    11points 

Totals for John – 74 points. 

Genesis 1:1-15

1 In the beginning 3 for n , 2 for i God created 2 for e the heavens 2 for e and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless 2 for s and empty, darkness 2 for s was over the surface of the deep, 2 for e and the Spirit 2 for i of God was hovering over the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there 2 for e be light,” and there 2 for e was light. 4 God saw that the light was good 2 for o , and he separated 2 for e and 2 for a  the light from the darkness 2 for s 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness 2 for s he called “night.” And there 2 for e was evening 2 for e , and there 2 for e was morning—the first day. 

6 And God said, “Let there 2 for e be a vault between 3 for e the waters to separate 2 for e water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated 2 for e and 2 for a the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there 2 for e was evening 2 for e, and there 2 for e was morning 2 for n —the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered 2 for e to one place, and let dry ground appear 2 for a .” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered 2 for e waters he called “seas.” And God saw that 2 for t it was good. 2 for o

*and on it goes…*

Final totals:

E 2 2 2 2o 2o 2 2o 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2       31 Field Goals  0 Free Throws  62 points 

A 2 2 2 Field Goals 4 points 

S 2 2 2 2 2 5  Field Goals 10 points 

T 2 2 2  Field Goals 4 points 

I 2 2 2  Field Goals  4 points

O 2 2 2

N 2o 2 2 3 Field Goals  1 Free throws  7 points 

Totals for Genesis – 91 points 

Wow, E for the Genesis team went crazy, offsetting Team John’s more balanced attack. Different translations of course make a difference. For instance, the translation The Voice uses the word ‘there’ quite a bit less in the Genesis text, making a huge difference, sort of like taking away Steph Curry’s step back three. (another 2 points for E)

*Rabbit Trail* The Voice is described by the editor Chris Seay as a translation looking for the beauty and poetry in the texts. Critics have also used colorful language: 

“Do you see how the Devil is butchering the Bible into garbage, rotted minced meat, contaminated feed that poisons the reader, which cannot be theologically understood? “

Search for yourself and you will find that The Voice (VOICE) only mentions the word “hell” 24 times; whereas the King James Bible (KJB) mentions hell 55 times. The New International Version (NIV) only mentions hell 15 times!!! The Satanic Easy-To-Read (ERV) version only mentions hell 23 times. . No wonder the horrifying reality of Hell is hardly ever preached from church pulpits today. Do you believe in Hell? If you don’t, you will… YOU WILL!!!”

“You know, the Bible was never intended to be a slice of pie, or a necktie, where you can design and pick out the one which suits you best. God wrote His Word as is, to say what He wanted to say. There is only ONE BOOK Authored by God, and I have it in the precious KING JAMES BIBLE!!!!!!! .”

This guy sounds like a whole lot of fun, perhaps a fixation on “h- e- double hockey sticks”.  He would probably label me as a heretic for deliberate misuse of a sacred text, and honestly, that gives me a deep sense of delight. 

*End lengthy Rabbit Trail.*

Note: When does a Rabbit Trail actually become the main path? Part of the whole? Non-rabbit tracks?

Here is hoping for boredom, for when we are bored and quiet, perhaps a little magic creeps in.  So, a three time 20 game winner in the 1960’s? Of course! Mel Stottlemeyer…nope…Stottlemyer..nope….oh hell. If you don’t believe in hell, you will… YOU WILL!!!

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