If you’re a sports fan, you must be in heaven this weekend. All three major American spectator sports—baseball, football and basketball—are underway right now. Even if you can’t attend in person, you can watch the games on TV without too much trouble.
Meanwhile, if you’re an old NASCAR Winston Cup fan like me—one who doesn’t have access to all the sports channels on cable or satellite TV, that is—you may as well be sitting out in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, in a Field of Dreams sort of way. “Is this heaven?” the ghost of Dale Earnhardt might ask as he plops down into my recliner.
“No,” I’d say. “It’s pure hell. We don’t have cable.”
He has orange hair. He sniffs too much. He can’t keep his tiny paws off the girls. He’s a lurker, always peering over one particular female’s shoulder. And we don’t think he’s very smart—at least, he isn’t going out of his way to show his intelligence. But the orange-haired guy is entertaining. He really is.
She is small and fiesty. But she’s smart, really smart. And she is so very determined—when she wants something, she never gives up until she gets it. She’s been ill lately. At first, we didn’t think we’d like her because she was always in trouble, especially with computers, but we’ve come to like her.
The two of them are vying to succeed the coolest cat to ever reside in our white house. He was larger than life. He was unlike any other—the first of his kind—but it was part of the reason we liked him. He was easy-going most of the time but assertive when he had to be. He was our favorite of all time.
I don’t know about you, but I’m disappointed in Franklin Graham these days. He certainly isn’t his father, who has been a spiritual advisor to every Democratic President since Truman.
I’ll pause a second to let that sink in—a spiritual advisor to every Democrat in the White House from Harry S “The Buck Stops Here” Truman to Barack H. “Yes We Can!” Obama. And that even includes William J. “I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman” Clinton.
But did you notice what I just did? Yeah, it was kind of sneaky. If I were reading this, and I didn’t know any better, or if I weren’t reading carefully, or if I were easily confused by the English language—like, say, by the subjunctive mood or by pesky subordinate clauses, intercalary phrases, and obscure words or even catch phrases that a writer can throw at a reader—then I might think that the sneaky ol’ writer of this essay is saying that the Rev. Billy Graham, Franklin’s daddy, has been playing partisan politics and has favored Democrats over Republicans. But that’s not true.
I don’t say this often—because prayer should be private, not publicized—but my thoughts tonight are with my old friends on the N.C. coast. I hope to God that Hurricane Matthew loops out to sea before hitting my favorite place on earth.
In the fall of 1981, I visited the Wilmington, N.C., area for the first time and fell in love with it. My best friend then, who was a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, had been telling me for a couple of years that “God is alive and well, and lives at Wrightsville Beach.” He was right.
After returning home from that weekend trip, I wrote a column about it for The Valdese News. The article was later reprinted by my favorite “big-city” newspaper, the Wilmington Morning Star. I love that name—Morning Star—partly because my favorite philosopher used it in the final sentence of Walden, my favorite book.