Craddock on the Craft of Preaching

Craddock, Fred B., ed. Lee Sparks and Kathryn Hayes Sparks

Chalice, 2011

pp. 88 - 89

Craddock was a firm believer in “the pool of common experience.” The people in Deuteronomy or Revelation are not so far from us. We have at least some common experiences in the pool. Same with great authors of fiction. Why may they reach out from their very specific locale and touch people quite different from themselves? Because of the pool of common experience. So “Flannery O’Connor could sit on her porch down in Milledgeville, Georgia, and write about southern semiliterate Protestant preachers and stir the hearts of Roman Catholics in Minnesota and Jews on vacation in the Catskills.” Craddock mentions Edgar Lee Masters, “a cynical poet from Spoon River, Illinois.” What does a cynical poet from Spoon River, Illinois, have for us from that common pool of human experience? He has understanding of domestic relationships, and of how, within it, most of human nobility is on trial every day. So in his Spoon River Anthology he quotes “Constance Hately”:

YOU praise my self-sacrifice, Spoon River,
In rearing Irene and Mary,
Orphans of my older sister!
And you censure Irene and Mary
For their contempt of me!
But praise not my self-sacrifice,
And censure not their contempt;
I reared them, I cared for them, true enough!-
But I poisoned my benefactions
With constant reminders of their dependence. (1)

(1) Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology (, 2005), p. 12.