Malcolm Gladwell On Being a Writer

This is not what I expected to hear from Gladwell (although I’m not sure why), but it was really a nod to the way I think and blog when it comes to sports. This is from an interview earlier this year with Tim Ferriss.

To the extent that a writer deserves his or her paycheck, it comes down to how good are they at looking through a transcript and understanding what’s interesting. You have to visualize what the story is going to become before it has become anything.

Hashtag blogging.

The Sweetness of Jesus

I am compelled by the individual stories in Tim Keller’s Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering. This one by a woman whose husband has ALS was particularly compelling.

Her summary was wise and wonderful and it brought me to tears because of my own experiences over the last three months.

I see how intense sorrow and intense sweetness are mingled together. The depth and richness of life has come in suffering. How much I have learned and how much sweeter Jesus is to me now.

That is a weighty thing to write for a woman whose husband hasn’t been able to speak for eight years. God’s compelling grace and abundant love are staggering things to those who know him. I’m glad for that.

How Suffering Changes Our Relationship With God

Tim Keller is really good at a lot of things, but he might be best at putting properly into words the very things we feel even if we don’t know how to adequately express them.

Here’s his take from Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering on why suffering pushes you closer to the Lord.

When times are good, how do you know if you love God or just love the things he is giving you or doing for you? You don’t, really.

This is true and something I am grateful for. You don’t. Not the way I grew up. Not with the life I’ve lived. But now I do because I’ve had the most vulnerable thing in my entire world taken from me.

This from the same chapter by a Scottish minister from the 1800s named George MacDonald was also terrific.

The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer but that their sufferings might be like His.

That is my prayer for today and always. That my sufferings might be like His.

Two Great Quotes From The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I enjoyed the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It was good not great. But there were two really great quotes. Both of which relate to blogging.

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

That’s pretty much what great blogging is. Taking what people don’t observe and shining a light on it.

And also, a thing is interesting because of thinking about it and not because of being new.

This is what all journalism is. There’s nothing new under the sun. Only a billion different ways of looking at it.

On How to Write a Lede

I’m bad at ledes. Really bad, probably. That’s why I loved this advice from Grant Wahl on the recent Longform podcast. Wahl stole it from a writer and literary professor at Princeton named John McPhee.

“Write a lede section first. In going back through McPhee’s notes it was interesting because his whole thing was your lede should shine a light through the rest of the story which I thought was a cool turn of phrase.”

I like the way that sounds. It also helps provide purpose to the ledes I writer (which I feel are often purposeless). I don’t know that it will stick in the long run, but I’ve certainly been using it since I listened to that podcast.

Keller On Growth Through Suffering

I’m probably going be quoting a lot of Keller’s Walking Through Pain and Suffering in the near future. In turn, you’re going to be hearing a lot from Martin Luther because Keller draws from him quite often. This is on suffering like Christ suffered.

“‘Suffering produces growth in us only when we understand Christ’s suffering and work on our behalf. Luther taught, “Christians cannot suffer with Christ’ — that is, they cannot imitate his patience and love under pressure — ‘before they have embraced the full benefits of Christ’s suffering for them’ in their place.”

Keller On Suffering Like Job

“… some suffering has no purpose other than to lead a person to love God more ardently for himself alone and so discover the ultimate peace and freedom.”

“For since God takes away all our goods and our life through many tribulations, it is impossible for the heart to be calm and to bear this unless it clings to better goods, that is, united with God through faith.”

That second quote is Keller quoting Martin Luther. Both are immense and have helped encourage me in this season of grief.