The reflections on John Updike’s work in this issue sent me to my shelves in search of a particular Updike story that I read long ago and have never forgotten. I am an unabashed fan of Updike. He writes thoughtfully and provocatively about ordinary American lives. My fondness for Updike has gotten me in trouble on occasion. After hearing me quote Updike in a sermon, some people have taken up one of his novels and been shocked by his fascination with and detailed scrutiny of human sexuality.
I’ve read most of his novels, most of his short stories and some of his criticism. I’ve come to appreciate his poetry. The volume of poems titled Facing Nature is particularly good for men over 50. But the best of Updike is in the short stories. Because they are compact and dense, they are valuable models for sermons. There are no wasted words in a good short story, nor should there be in a 20-minute sermon.