Thursday, March 10, 2016

If I could only write like...

If you're a pastor, you write.  In seminary you are given the basic tools needed to write a sermon.  As you go into the parish you hone your craft.  Some days the writing is as easy as adding 2 + 2.  Then there are the days that crafting a 15 minutes sermon is like trying to understand a single thought from Stephen Hawking.

There are two people who write, two folks that I greatly admire.  One is Max Lucado.  Over 50 million of his books are in publication.  I'd happily take a 10th of that and not complain a bit.  Lucado is not from my tribe - Lutheran.  But he is one author of a reformed church who gets Jesus the way I've been taught to get Jesus.  Each time Lucado writes and publishes another book, it immediately goes to the top of my reading stack.  There have been a few occasions when I've polished off the first four chapters of a new book of his before I've paid for the book.  Lucado helps me to see Jesus - the wonder of His sacrificial death and the power of His resurrection from the grave.  Stranded on a deserted island? As long as I've got a Lucado book in my backpack, I'll survive just fine.

The other author is Rick Reilly.  For ten years Reilly wrote the last-page-of-the-magazine column for Sports Illustrated.  So, for ten years I read SI by starting from the back. Reilly came first.  Always first. 

A few years ago he quit that gig.  Reilly did some television and I believe he wrote a bit for  For me it just wasn't the same as when I went to the mailbox every Thursday, pulled out my copy of SI and wondered, "What did Reilly write about this week?"

So you can appreciate the happy dance I did when I picked up last week's SI and found that the cover story, about the Golden State Warriors, was written by (drumroll....) Rick Reilly!

It was such a joy to see that Reilly hadn't lost the zip from his fastball, so to speak.  No one paints a better story.  And no one turns a better phrase.  Here are some examples from the SI article:

It's not going to last, of course, this team, this moment, this selfie of pure unselfishness.  It's too perfect, the way these Golden State Warriors, whose crunch-time five is so small it would fit nicely in a Fiat 500, have become the biggest thing in the NBA, with a possible stop at Best Team Ever.

It's past the All-Star break and the world is still joyously, wondrously, happily downside up.  How could every NBA arena be suddenly half filled with colors the home team doesn't even sell? How could a league whose standard used to be a cyborg called the Spurs now be fronted by a bunch of happy snipers from the Bay Area who get more touches in a single possession than a $20 bill at a street craps game?  And how could these guys be called the Warriors anyway? They're about as warlike as fudge.

These guys are looser than secondhand socks.  (My favorite sentence in the whole article!)

In 2003, Curry gave up a week of his off-season - including his anniversary - to come to a refugee camp in Tanzania to hang 37,000 antimalarial bed nets with us for Nothing But Nets, a charity I cofounded in these pages 10 years ago with the United Nations Foundation.  What's funny is that he (Curry) paid for a lot of those nets.  He donates three nets for every three-pointed he makes, which is like having your 14-year-old daughter donate three every time she checks her phone (my second favorite line in the article).

Well, hopefully, you catch my drift.  I've read that article three times now.  I'll read it again.  It's not work to read Rick Reilly.  It's pure joy.

It appears that Reilly and Sports Illustrated are going to become a thing again.

Well, I hope so. 

Gives me a reason to spare my dear, sweet wife and pick up the mail (on Thursday).