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I need to get out of the holiday hermitage that I’ve experienced this week. I spent some time with family and friends, worked a few basketball games and attended two awesome Christmas services at my church last weekend (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, participating in a large sanctuary filled with people singing Christmas carols and worship songs [emphasis on singing. Loudly.] – I literally had tears, it was so awesome!).

The majority of the week, however, was time spent at home, just Olive and me. Even now, she’s here with me napping as I present this week’s edition of Doyle’s Half Dozen. Let’s get to it!

  1. The wonderment and woes of Russell Westbrook

Christmas evening was highlighted by a fantastic Oklahoma City Thunder victory over Minnesota with NBA MVP candidate Russell Westbrook having another incredible performance. I’m a big Russ fan. He amazes me often, but in this game, he made a sensational fast break pass of which I’ve never before seen:

Westbrook then followed up that performance by leading the Thunder over Miami Tuesday night and collecting his 15th triple double on the season. The Heat are having a down year, and they also were without some key contributors, but there’s no shame in claiming an NBA win, and Thunder were on a four-game winning streak.

All this exuberance was halted Thursday night, as the Thunder had one of their worst performances of the season, losing at Memphis, 114-80. There’s no “ho-hum”-ness with the Thunder. Emotions are at a premium for Thunder fans in all 82 regular season games. The reason I say this also involves Westbrook because the biggest news resulting in this loss is Russ getting ejected after picking up two technical fouls simultaneously in the middle of the third quarter.

I’m not surprised the Thunder lost. The Grizzlies are big rivals for OKC, mostly because of the many playoff battles over the past seasons. Memphis also is the toughest defensive squad in the NBA and just not a good matchup for the Thunder.

I am disappointed with the Westbrook ejection. He got his first technical while arguing over a play that video replay proved him wrong, but he kept at it. After the official told him to leave the free throw lane, Russ used profanity, which is legitimate grounds for a technical, as he walked away.

In my opinion, many officials would not have assessed the second technical against Westbrook in that situation. They would have let Russ go with his parting remark.

Brian Forte, however, felt he gave Westbrook enough of a warning. Though he was correct on the grounds for calling the second technical, I believe he should have considered the ramifications of ejecting Westbrook at this point in the game. Now he is as much of the focal point as Russ is, and it’s never a good thing when an official becomes a focal point.

Nevertheless, what’s done is done, and the Thunder can learn from this. Russ needs to choose his battles more wisely. His ultra-competitiveness can be a two-edged sword, but what he and Thunder should take from this is they can’t afford him to be out of the game, especially with the scheduling gauntlet they are about to experience in January.

Two encouraging write-ups about the Thunder came out this week. Chris Mannix gave some positive points on why Westbook should remain with the Thunder. I loved how Mannix pointed out the Thunder are in far better shape after Kevin Durant left than other previous squads who lost major franchise players. He also explains how the Thunder could be conference contenders in future seasons.

The other article talks about how the Thunder could be better off not making a major trade before the deadline this season:

“There is no hurry for the Thunder at the moment. They have the opportunity to be patient, as other GMs try to make moves to save their jobs or to reach unrealistic goals set before the season. Do not mistake this patience for complacency.

For now, the best move is waiting to see what you have in all of these young players and how they fit together. So sit back and enjoy this young team figuring it out on the fly and marvel at what Russell Westbrook is able to do night in and night out.”

  1. Six Pro-Life priorities

Since my first DHD topic took up the equivalent word content of a usual blog, I’ll do my best to be brief the rest of the way.

I’m going to get political now. As a new presidential administration is about to begin, I reiterate what I have said will be a key focal point when President-Elect Donald Trump takes office. Will we see a greater emphasis on sanctity of life as promised during his campaign?

I applaud the six recommendations that were offered to the president-elect by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. They include making the Hyde Amendment permanent, selecting a pro-life Supreme Court justice, eliminating government funding for Planned Parenthood and supporting two important pro-life policies.

  1. Disappointed with Jerry Jr.

I was not happy after reading about remarks made by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. Saying that views on social issues are “irrelevant” for a Secretary of State, especially on valuing the sanctity of life, does not reflect Falwell very well.

As the linked piece points out, abortion is a very common issue when negotiating with other countries. I also believe how a person views sanctity of life affects how they view all other issues. How can a person not value the unborn, as well as all other stages of human life, yet be someone we would want to represent our country among the other nations?

This doesn’t speak well for the leader of my alma mater, and I firmly believe his father also would be disappointed.

  1. Support a Pro-Life Democrat in 2020?

Talk has already begun on early projections of who will run in 2020 as a Democratic presidential candidate. Right now, the possible list, which includes Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, doesn’t appear to be a threat to President Trump in the next election.

If the Democrats really want to shake things up and possibly take notice of the Evangelical voting base, I have a suggestion. Nominate a pro-life Democrat. Two I would propose as interesting candidates would be West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

It’s a ridiculous pipe dream, but considering my skepticism on Trump’s pro-life-views, a pro-life Democrat in the 2020 election may be somebody I would support.

However, the Democratic Party has a long way to go before it would appear they desire to appeal to those who value the Sanctity of Life

  1. Millennial memorandum

Have you checked out Emily Howsden’s weekly blog “Millennial Monday”? I’ll let you figure out when it appears on WordSlingers.

Emily’s recent piece on “Tattoo Takes” is a good one. One of my favorite lines was, “Tattoos aren’t all skulls and crossbones anymore.”

Speaking of Millennials, have you seen a “Ted talk” video that’s been shared recently on Facebook? It would take 15 minutes to watch, but it is quite educational, thought-provoking and challenging for more than just Millennials.

Simon Sinek is a popular “think-tanker” who shares in the video how working with Millennials can be a challenge. He expands on four reasons for Millennial hardships which are parenting, technology, impatience and environment.

My immediate thought was “I need to share this with Emily. It would be a great future ‘Millennial Monday’ topic” (no pressure Emily!). And maybe she will blog about the video; maybe she won’t (teaser for future ‘Millennial Monday’ viewers).

I’ve watched the video twice now. I can’t say for sure Sinek is a born-again Christian, but he gives a lot of great advice, especially when it comes to how to handle cellphones and other mobile devices. It is interesting how he compares social media to be as addicting as alcohol and gambling. Sinek said it is a common understanding to shelter minors from alcohol and gambling, but allowing young people to run free with cell phones is comparable to free access to a full liquor cabinet.

I encourage you to watch the video and evaluate your own social skills and your involvement with your cell phone.

  1. My New Year’s Resolution

If you’re still reading, thank you! I apologize for being so long this week.

Since it is common to make a New Year’s Resolution, I would like to share with you mine. For 2017, I plan to share the Gospel with someone each week. Even if it is with a Christian believer, I want to share the Gospel, so I can be in regular practice and more equipped to share with unbelievers.

In other words, my New Year’s Resolution is to make the Gospel message a regular topic of conversation. For tangible purposes, I set the goal to do it weekly. Hopefully the occurrence will increase.

What New Year’s Resolution have you set for yourself? I’d love to hear from you!