Open a vein – thoughts on preaching

Until this morning, I had never heard of “Red” Smith!

Now I know that he is Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith ( 1905 – 1982) and that he was an American sportswriter. Smith’s journalistic career spans over five decades and his work influenced an entire generation of writers. Smith became the second sports columnist ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 1976.

In a book he wrote titled, “To Absent Friends”, Smith wrote, “Writing is really quite simple; all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and open a vein”.

As a fellow writer, the author, Frederick Buechner, comments on the quote, and as I read Buechner’s comments I kept thinking about preaching!

Below is Buechner’s thoughts; I have interpolated the word “preach” following the word write,

Write [preach]about what you really care about is what he is saying.

Write [preach] about what truly matters to you—not just things to catch the eye of the world but things to touch the quick of the world the way they have touched you to the quick, which is why you are writing[preaching] about them.

Write [preach] not just with wit and eloquence and style and relevance but with passion.

Then the things that your books [homilies] make happen will be things worth happening —things that make the people who read [hear] them a little more passionate themselves for their pains, by which I mean a little more alive, a little wiser, a little more beautiful, a little more open and understanding, in short a little more human.

I believe that those are the best things that books [sermons].