“A Book of Prayers: To the Heavens from the Stars,”
by Chuck Spinner
Chuck Spinner knew he didn’t have this project exactly right. He says so right up from by acknowledging some weaknesses.
The idea of asking celebrities from the sports and media world their favorite prayer is a good one, and even better is Spinner’s introductory remark about the purpose of his book. Actually a quote from former football coach and present 49ers’ GM John McVay about the importance of formal prayer, the purpose is to “get us started talking to God.”
That’s a great measure of success, and to that end, Spinner has been successful.
But I think he could have done better. And I think this could have been a book that really touched folks deeply and done a lot to initiate more conversations with God.
I think readers will find there is a bit too much celebrity biography and not enough prayer.
I’m not sure how many readers will care to know all the years that Ann B. Davis won Emmy’s for “The Brady Bunch.” Was it crucial to include U.S. Olympic hockey hero Mike Eruzione, telling all his collegiate all-star mentions, when his favorite prayer is the Our Father!
That repetition of prayers is one of the weaknesses of the book that Spinner acknowledges, but after the third time he includes the text of The Lord’s Prayer or the Memorare, it’s not reinforcing or even interesting, it’s plain irritating.
And some celebrities sent in poems, not prayers; they should have been edited out.
There are gems, though, and the salvation of the book comes when you find them.
There’s the ending sentence from Olympic softball star Leah O’Brien-Amico’s favorite: “Change me from the inside out and make me the person you want me to be.”
Pitcher for the old Brooklyn Dodgers Carl Erskine sent in: “Lord, I don’t pray for life to be easier, but for you to make me stronger.”
All in all, I’m forced to say that this is a use book of prayer. Advice to readers might be, ignore the biographical introductions to all these folks and search for prayers that touch you. Mark them somehow, and return to them when you need a kick start for your own conversations with God. — bz