Frederick Buechner, American Writer and Theologian

(The following information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Buechner)

(Carl) Frederick Buechner is an American writer and theologian. Born July 11, 1926 in New York City, he is an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of more than thirty published books thus far.[1] His work encompasses different genres, including fiction, autobiography, essays and sermons, and his career has spanned six decades. Buechner’s books have been translated into many languages for publication around the world. He is best known for his works A Long Day’s Dying (his first work, published in 1950); The Book of Bebb, a tetralogy based on the character Leo Bebb published in 1977; Godric, a first person narrative of the life of the medieval saint, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1981; Brendan, a second novel narrating a saint’s life, published in 1987; Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner (1992); and his autobiographical works The Sacred Journey (1982), Now and Then (1983), Telling Secrets (1991), and The Eyes of the Heart: Memoirs of the Lost and Found (1999). He has been called “Major talent” and “…a very good writer indeed” by the New York Times, and “one of our most original storytellers” by USA Today. Annie Dillard (Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) says: “Frederick Buechner is one of our finest writers.”

Buechner’s work has often been praised for its ability to inspire readers to see the grace in their daily lives. As stated in the London Free Press, “He is one of our great novelists because he is one of our finest religious writers.” He has been a finalist for the National Book Award Presented by the National Book Foundation and the Pulitzer Prize, and has been awarded eight honorary degrees from such institutions as Yale University and the Virginia Theological Seminary. In addition, Buechner has been the recipient of the O. Henry Award, the Rosenthal Award, the Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize, and has been recognized by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Biography

Frederick Buechner, the eldest son of Carl Frederick and Katherine (Kuhn) Buechner, was born on July 11, 1926 in New York City. During Buechner’s early childhood the family moved frequently, as Buechner’s father searched for work. In The Sacred Journey Buechner recalls: “Virtually every year of my life until I was fourteen, I lived in a different place, had different people to take care of me, went to a different school. The only house that remained constant was the one where my maternal grandparents lived in a suburb of Pittsburgh called East Liberty…Apart from that one house on Woodland Road, home was not a place to me when I was a child. It was people.” This would change in 1936, when Buechner’s father committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, a result of his conviction that he had been a failure. Immediately afterwards, the family moved to Bermuda, where they would remain until World War II forced the evacuation of Americans from the island.

Buechner then attended the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, graduating in 1943. While at Lawrenceville, he met the future Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill; their friendship and rivalry inspired the literary ambitions of both. As Mel Gussow wrote in Merrill’s 1995 obituary: “their friendly competition was an impetus for each becoming a writer.” Buechner then enrolled at Princeton University. His college career was interrupted by military service in World War II (1944–46), but he returned to graduate with a degree in English in 1948. Upon graduation, he returned to the Lawrenceville School as a teacher of creative writing.

During his senior year at Princeton, Buechner received the Irene Glascock Prize for poetry, and he also began working on what was to be his first novel and one of his greatest critical successes: A Long Day’s Dying, published in 1950. Of this first book Buechner says,

“I took the title from a passage in Paradise Lost where Adam says to Eve that their expulsion from Paradise “will prove no sudden but a slow pac’d evil,/ A Long Day’s Dying to augment our pain,” and with the exception of the old lady Maroo, what all the characters seem to be dying of is loneliness, emptiness, sterility, and such preoccupation with themselves and their own problems that they are unable to communicate with each other about anything that really matters to them very much. I am sure that I chose such a melancholy theme partly because it seemed effective and fashionable, but I have no doubt that, like dreams generally, it also reflected the way I felt about at least some dimension of my own life and the lives of those around me.”
The publication of A Long Day’s Dying was to catapult Buechner into early and, in his own words, “undeserved” fame. Buechner’s dense, reflective style was compared to Henry James and Marcel Proust, and he was hailed as one of the rising stars of American literature.[citation needed] In a long and distinguished career, A Long Day’s Dying continues to be one of Buechner’s most successful works, both critically and commercially (it was reissued in 2003). However, his second novel, The Season’s Difference, published in 1952, in Buechner’s words, “fared as badly as the first one had fared well.” The contrast between the success of his first novel and the commercial failure of the second was starkly visible, and it was on this note that Buechner left his teaching position at Lawrenceville to move to New York City and focus on his writing career.

In 1952, Buechner began lecturing at New York University, and once again received critical acclaim for his short story “The Tiger,” published in The New Yorker, which won the O. Henry Award in 1955. Also during this time, he began attending the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, where George Buttrick was pastor. It was during one of Buttrick’s sermons that Buechner heard the words that inspired his ordination: Buttrick described the inward coronation of Christ as taking place in the hearts of those who believe in him “among confession, and tears, and great laughter.” The impact of this phrase on Buechner was so great that he eventually entered the Union Theological Seminary in 1954, on a Rockefeller Brothers Theological Fellowship.

While at Union, Buechner studied under such renowned theologians as Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and James Muilenberg, who helped Buechner in his search for understanding:

“I wanted to learn about Christ – about the Old Testament, which had been his Bible, and the New Testament, which was the Bible about him; about the history of the church, which had been founded on the faith that through him God had not only revealed his innermost nature and his purpose for the world, but had released into the world a fierce power to draw people into that nature and adapt them to that purpose….No intellectual pursuit had ever aroused in me such intense curiosity, and much more than my intellect was involved, much more than my curiosity aroused. In the unfamiliar setting of a Presbyterian church, of all places, I had been moved to astonished tears which came from so deep inside me that to this day I have never fathomed them, I wanted to learn more about the source of those tears and the object of that astonishment.”
Buechner’s decision to enter the seminary had come as a great surprise to those who knew him. Even George Buttrick, whose words had so inspired Buechner, observed that, “It would be a shame to lose a good novelist for a mediocre preacher.” Nevertheless, Buechner’s ministry and writing have ever since served to enhance each other’s message.

Following his first year at Union, Buechner decided to take the 1955-6 school year off to continue his writing. In the spring of 1955, shortly before he left Union for the year, Buechner met his wife Judith at a dance given by some family friends. They were married a year later by James Muilenberg in Montclair, N.J., and spent the next four months traveling in Europe. During this year, Buechner also completed his third novel, The Return of Ansel Gibbs.

After his sabbatical, Buechner returned to Union to complete the two further years necessary to receive a Bachelor of Divinity. He was ordained on June 1, 1958 at the same Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church where he had heard George Buttrick preach four years earlier. Buechner was ordained as an evangelist, or minister without pastoral charge. Shortly before graduation, as he considered his future role as minister of a parish, he had received a letter from Robert Russell Wicks, formerly the Dean of the Chapel at Princeton, and now serving as school minister at Phillips Exeter Academy; Wicks had offered him the job of instituting a new, full-time religion department at Exeter. Buechner decided to take the opportunity to return to teaching, and to develop a program that taught religion in depth.

In September 1958, the Buechners moved to Exeter. There, Buechner faced the challenge of creating a new department and academically rigorous curriculum that would challenge the often cynical views of his new students. “My job, as I saw it, was to defend the Christian faith against its “cultured despisers,” to use Schleiermacher’s phrase. To put it more positively, it was to present the faith as appealingly, honestly, relevantly, and skillfully as I could.” During his tenure at Exeter, Buechner taught courses in both the Religion and English departments, and served as school chaplain and minister. Also during this time, the family grew to include three daughters. For the school year 1963-4, the Buechners took a sabbatical on their farm in Rupert, VT, during which time Buechner returned to his writing; his fourth book, The Final Beast, was published in 1965. As the first book he had written since being ordained, The Final Beast represented a new style for Buechner, one in which he would combine his dual callings as minister and as author.

Buechner recalls of his accomplishments at Exeter: “All told, we were there for nine years with one year’s leave of absence tucked in the middle, and by the time we left, the religion department had grown from only one full-time teacher, namely myself, and about twenty students, to four teachers and something in the neighborhood, as I remember, of three hundred students or more.”[20] Among these students was the future author John Irving, who included a quotation from Buechner in the preface of his book A Prayer for Owen Meany. One of Buechner’s biographers, Marjorie Casebier McCoy, describes the effect of his time at Exeter as follows: “Buechner in his sermons had been attempting to reach out to the “cultured despisers of religion.” The students and faculty at Phillips Exeter had been, for the most part, just that when he had arrived at the school, and it had been they who compelled him to hone his preaching and literary skills to their utmost in order to get a hearing for Christian faith.”

After nine years at Exeter, and the successful establishment of the Religion Department, the Buechners felt that it was time for a change. In the summer of 1967, the whole family moved to their farmhouse in Rupert to live year-round. Buechner describes their house in Now and Then:

“Our house is on the eastern slope of Rupert Mountain, just off a country road, still unpaved then, and five miles from the nearest town…Even at the most unpromising times of year – in mudtime, on bleak, snowless winter days – it is in so many unexpected ways beautiful that even after all this time I have never quite gotten used to it. I have seen other places equally beautiful in my time, but never, anywhere, have I seen one more so.”
There Buechner realized the challenge of writing without the structure of school life around him. He describes the creation of his next novel, The Entrance to Porlock, as follows: “…the labor of writing which was so painful that I find it hard, even now, to see beyond the memory of the pain to whatever merit it may have.” However, in 1968, Buechner received a letter from Charles Price, the chaplain at Harvard, inviting him to give the Noble Lectures series in the winter of 1969. His predecessors in this role were none other than Richard Niebuhr and George Buttrick, and Buechner was both flattered and daunted by the idea of joining so august a group. When he voiced his concerns, Price replied that he should write “something in the area of “religion and letters.”” Thence came the idea to write about the everyday events of life “as the alphabet through which God, of his grace, spells out his words, his meaning, to us. So The Alphabet of Grace was the title I hit upon, and what I set out to do was to try to describe a single representative day of my life in a way to suggest what there was of God to hear in it.” This process showed Buechner a way out of the frustration he had felt while writing The Entrance to Porlock: by drawing on his own experience, he found the means to convey his thoughts through his writing.

It was about this time, when Buechner was giving the Noble Lectures, that he came across the character that would prove so significant in his later career:

“I was reading a magazine as I waited my turn at a barber shop one day when, triggered by a particular article and the photographs that went with it, there floated up out of some hitherto unexplored subcellar of me a character who was to dominate my life as a writer for the next six years and more. He was a plump, bald, ebullient southerner who had once served five years in a prison on a charge of exposing himself before a group of children and was now the head of a religious diploma mill in Florida and of a seedy, flat-roofed stucco church called the Church of Holy Love, Incorporated. He wore a hat that looked too small for him. He had a trick eyelid that every once in a while fluttered shut on him. His name was Leo Bebb.”
The Book of Bebb tetralogy was to prove one of Buechner’s most well-known works. Published in the years from 1972–1977, it brought Buechner to a much wider audience, and gained him critical acclaim (Lion Country, the first book in the series, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1971). Of writing the series, Buechner says: “I had never known a man like Leo Bebb and was in most ways quite unlike him myself, but despite that, there was very little I had to do by way of consciously, purposefully inventing him. He came, unexpected and unbidden, from a part of myself no less mysterious and inaccessible than the part where dreams come from; and little by little there came with him a whole world of people and places that was as heretofore unknown to me as Bebb was himself.” In this series, Buechner experimented for the first time with first-person narrative, and discovered that this, too, opened new doors. His next work, Godric, published in 1980, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

” Godric came as mysteriously alive for me as Bebb had and, with him, all the people he knew and the whole medieval world he lived in. I had Godric narrate his own life, and despite the problem of developing a language that sounded authentic on his lips without becoming impenetrably archaic, and despite the difficulties of trying to recapture a time and place so unlike my own, the book, like Lion Country before it, came so quickly and with such comparative ease that there were times when I suspected that maybe the old saint himself was not entirely uninvolved in the process, as, were I a saint and were somebody writing a book about me, I would not be entirely uninvolved in the process either.”
The process of writing Godric once again indicated a new path for Buechner: the writing of his own autobiography. To date, this includes four volumes: The Sacred Journey (1982), Now and Then (1983), Telling Secrets (1991), Secrets in the Dark (2006). Buechner has thus far published over thirty works, and continues to write more; his latest book, Yellow Leaves, was released in 2008.

In 2007, Buechner was presented with the lifetime achievement award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature

Quotes

“There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.” Wishful Thinking

“The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” The Hungering Dark

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Now and Then

“You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. A pair of somebody’s old shoes can do it. … You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.” Beyond Words

“All theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography.” The Sacred Journey

“It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.” Listening to Your Life

“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past … to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back — in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” Wishful Thinking [64]

“The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Wishful Thinking

“The world is full of dark shadows, to be sure both the world without and the world within … But praise and trust him too for the knowledge that what’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and that all the dark there ever was, set next to light, would scarcely fill a cup.” Commencement Address at Union Seminary, Richmond

“Grace is something you can never get but only be given. The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you. I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” Wishful Thinking

“The only patriots worth their salt are the ones who love their country enough to see that in a nuclear age it is not going to survive unless the world survives. True patriots are no longer champions of Democracy, Communism, or anything like that but champions of the Human Race. It is not the Homeland that they feel called on to defend at any cost but the planet Earth as Home. If in the interests of making sure we don’t blow ourselves off the map once and for all, we end up relinquishing a measure of national sovereignty to some international body, so much the worse for national sovereignty. There is only one Sovereignty that matters ultimately, and it is of another sort altogether.” Whistling in the Dark

“Our eyes are just our eyes and not all we have for seeing, maybe not even the best we have for seeing. Facts are all the eye can see, eyes cannot see truth. It’s not with the eyes of the head that we see truths like that, but with the eyes of the heart. To see (Jesus) with the heart is to know, in the long run, that his life is the only life worth living.” From “Faith by the Book: Author Preaches About Biblical Perspective” by Matt VandeBunte

“I pick the children up at the bottom of the mountain where the orange bus lets them off in the wind. They run for the car like leaves blowing. Not for keeps, to be sure, but at least for the time being, the world has given them back again, and whatever the world chooses to do later on, it can never so much as lay a hand on the having-beenness of this time. The past is inviolate. We are none of us safe, but everything that has happened is safe. In all the vast and empty reaches of the universe it can never be otherwise than that when the orange bus stopped with its red lights blinking, these two children were on it. Their noses were running. One of them dropped a sweater. I drove them home.” Listening to Your Life

“[T]he Gospel writers are not really interested primarily in the facts of the birth but in the significance, the meaning for them of that birth just as the people who love us are not really interested primarily in the facts of our births but in what it meant to them when we were born and how for them the world was never the same again, how their whole lives were charged with new significance.” The Hungering Dark

“You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.” The Sacred Journey

“Martin Luther said once, ‘If I were God, I’d kick the world to pieces.’ But Martin Luther wasn’t God. God is God, and God has never kicked the world to pieces. He keeps re-entering the world. He keeps offering himself to the world by grace, keeps somehow blessing the world, making possible a kind of life which we all, in our deepest being, hunger for.” From discussion with reporter Kim Lawton on Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly

“Many an atheist is a believer without knowing it just as many a believer is an atheist without knowing it. You can sincerely believe there is no God and live as though there is. You can sincerely believe there is a God and live as though there isn’t.” Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and free-dom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” The Magnificent Defeat

“Maybe it’s all utterly meaningless. Maybe it’s all unutterably meaningful. If you want to know which, pay attention to what it means to be truly human in a world that half the time we’re in love with and half the time scares the hell out of us. Any fiction that helps us pay attention to that is religious fiction. The unexpected sound of your name on somebody’s lips. The good dream. The strange coincidence. The moment that brings tears to your eyes. The person who brings life to your life. Even the smallest events hold the greatest clues.” Lecture to a Book of the Month Club

“The child is born in the night — the mother’s exhausted flesh, the father’s face clenched like a fist — and nothing is ever the same again.” The Hungering Dark

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am in who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

“For as long as your remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it’s your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way.

If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget me, part of who I am will be gone.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.” Listening To Your Life

“The love for equals is a human thing—of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy—the love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The torture’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.” The Magnificent Defeat

Awards and Honors

Irene Glascock Prize for Poetry 1948
O. Henry Award for “The Tiger” 1955
Rosenthal Award for The Return of Ansel Gibbs 1959
Fiction Finalist, National Book Award for Lion Country 1972
Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Godric 1981
American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters 1982
Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize 1987
Critics’ Choice Books Award for Fiction for Son of Laughter 1994

Honorary Doctorates

Virginia Theological Seminary 1982
Lafayette College 1984
Lehigh University 1987
Cornell College 1989
Yale University 1990
The University of the South 1996
Susquehanna University 1998
Wake Forest University 2000
King College 2008

Important Dates

July 11, 1926 born in NYC
1936 father commits suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning
1937 family moves to Bermuda until evacuation of Americans at beg. of WWII- 1943 graduates Lawrenceville School (NJ)
1944-6 serves in army
1943-8 attends Princeton University
1948 wins Irene Glascock Prize for Poetry; begins work on his first novel, A Long Day’s Dying
1948-53 teaches English at Lawrenceville
1950 A Long Day’s Dying published
1952 The Season’s Difference published
1953-55 lives in NYC; lecturer at New York University
1954 – 8 enrolled at Union Theological Seminary; also works at Harlem employment clinic
1955-6 year off from seminary to write; meets and marries Judith Buechner
1955 short story “The Tiger” wins O. Henry Prize
1958 publishes The Return of Ansel Gibbs; book receives the Rosenthal award
June 1, 1958 ordination as an evangelist with B.D. from Union Theological Seminary
1958-1960 chaplain and chairman of Dept. of Religion at Phillips Exeter Academy
1960-7 school minister and teacher of religion at Phillips Exeter Academy; daughters are born
1963-4 sabbatical in VT
1965 The Final Beast published
1966 first theological work The Magnificent Defeat (collection of school sermons) published
after 1967 moves with family to Rupert, VT to pursue writing full time
1969 second book of sermons, The Hungering Dark, published
1969 delivers William Belden Noble Lectures at Harvard
1970 Harvard lectures published as The Alphabet of Grace (theological autobiography on a day in his life)
1970 The Entrance to Porlock (retelling of The Wizard of Oz) published
1971 Lion Country published (first of tetralogy on Leo Bebb); nominated for National Book Award
1971 Russell Lecturer at Tufts University
1972 Open Heart (second of tetralogy on Leo Bebb) published
1974 Love Feast (third of tetralogy on Leo Bebb) published
1974 Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC
1974 The Faces of Jesus (book of pictures with text by CFB) published
1976 Lyman Beecher Lecturer at Yale; lectures published in same year as Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale
1977 Treasure Hunt (fourth of tetralogy on Leo Bebb) published
1977 The Book of Bebb published
1977 Telling the Truth: The Gospel in Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale published
1979 Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who published, with illustrations by daughter Katherine
1980 Godric published; Pulitzer Prize finalist
1982 D.D. from Virginia Theological Seminary; archive established at Wheaton College
1982 The Sacred Journey (first volume of autobiography) published
1983 Now and Then published (second volume of autobiography)
1984 A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces published
1985 semester-long teaching position at Wheaton College; offers manuscripts to the college
1987 Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize
1987 Brendan published
1988 Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized published
1990 The Wizard’s Tide published (later re-released as The Christmas Tide)
1991 Telling Secrets (third volume of autobiography) published
1992 Wiersma Lecturer at Calvin College
1992 The Clown in the Belfry: Writings on Faith and Fiction published
1992 Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner published
1993 The Son of Laughter published
1996 The Longing for Home published
1997 On the Road with the Archangel published
1998 The Storm published
1999 The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of the Lost and Found (fourth volume of autobiography) published
2001 Speak What We Feel (Not What We Ought to Say) published
2004 Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith published
2006 Secrets in the Dark published
2008 The Buechner Institute inaugurated at King College
2008 The Yellow Leaves: A Miscellany published
[edit] Bibliography[edit] Published worksA Long Day’s Dying, 1950
The Seasons’ Difference, 1952
The Return of Ansel Gibbs, 1958
The Final Beast, 1965
The Magnificent Defeat, 1966
The Hungering Dark, 1968
The Entrance to Porlock, 1970
The Alphabet of Grace, 1970
Lion Country, 1971
Open Heart, 1972
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, 1973
Love Feast, 1974
Faces of Jesus: A Life Story, 1974
Treasure Hunt, 1977
Telling the Truth: The Gospel As Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, 1977
Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who, 1979
The Book of Bebb, 1979
Godric, 1980
The Sacred Journey, 1982
Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation, 1983
A Room Called Remember, 1984
Brendan, 1987
Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized, 1988
Telling Secrets, a Memoir, 1991
The Clown in the Belfry: Writings on Faith and Fiction, 1992
Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, 1992
The Son of Laughter, 1993
The Longing for Home: Recollections and Reflections, 1996
On the Road With the Archangel, 1997
The Storm, 1998
The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of the Lost and Found, 1999
Speak What We Feel (Not What We Ought to Say): Reflections on Literature and Faith, 2004
Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, 2004
The Christmas Tide: A Story, 2005
Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, 2006 (ISBN 0-06-084248-2)
The Yellow Leaves: A Miscellany, 2008 (ISBN 0-664-23276-0)
[edit] Secondary LiteratureMarie-Helene Davies. Laughter in a German Town: The Works of Frederick Buechner 1970-1980. (1983)
Marjorie Casebriar McCoy. Frederick Buechner: Novelist and Theologian of the Lost and Found. (1988)
Victoria S. Allen. Listening to Life: Psychology and Spirituality in the Writings of Frederick Buechner. (2002)
Dale Brown. The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings. (2006)

References

1.^ Buechner Institute Biography. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
2.^ Powell’s Books – Peculiar Treasures Synopses & Reviews. Retrieved 2009.11.05.
3.^ London Free Press
4.^ The National Book Awards Winners & Finalists, Since 1950. PDF. Retrieved 2009.11.05.
5.^ Harper Collins, Works by Frederick Buechner. Retrieved 2009.11.05
6.^ Yale University Honorary Degree Honorands, 1977-2009. PDF. Retrieved 2009.11.05 (a)
7.^ Frederick Buechner Papers, 1926-2006, Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections. Retrieved 2009.11.05
8.^ Frederick Buechner Papers, 1926-2006. Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections. Retrieved 2009.11.05
9.^ American Academy of Arts and Lectures. Retrieved 2009.11.05
10.^ a b Buechner Institute Biography
11.^ The Sacred Journey. Repr. San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991 pg. 20
12.^ The Wheaton Archives. Retrieved 2009.11.05.
13.^ Gussow, Mel. “James Merrill Is Dead at 68; Elegant Poet of Love and Loss.” The New York Times, February 7, 1995.
14.^ The Sacred Journey. Pg. 98
15.^ The Sacred Journey. Pg. 107
16.^ With current generation of pastors close to retirement, leaders seek young clergy by Sam Hodges. The Dallas Morning News, July 19, 2008. Retrieved 2009.11.05.
17.^ Now and Then. Repr. San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991. Pg. 10
18.^ The Sacred Journey
19.^ Now and Then. Pg. 47
20.^ Now and Then. Pg. 43
21.^ Marjorie Casebier McCoy.Frederick Buechner: Novelist and Theologian of the Lost and Found. New York: Harper & Row, 1988
22.^ Now and Then. Pg. 77
23.^ Now and Then. Pg. 81
24.^ a b Now and Then. Pg. 86
25.^ a b Now and Then. Pg. 97
26.^ Now and Then. Pg. 106
27.^ The Conference on Christianity and Literature, 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, Frederick Buechner, Text of Citation of Award. Retrieved 2009.11.05.
28.^ a b c d Barbara Brown Taylor,The Art of the Sermon: a Tribute to Frederick Buechner. April 5, 2006
29.^ James Woelfel. “Frederick Buechner: The Novelist as Theologian,” in Theology Today Vol. 40, No. 3 October 1983.
30.^ Marjorie Casebier McCoy. Frederick Buechner: Novelist and Theologian of the Lost and Found. Pg. 14
31.^ David Daiches, New York Times 1950
32.^ Christopher Isherwood, USA Today
33.^ Brian D. McLaren, author of Everything Must Change
34.^ New York Times Book Review.
35.^ Reynolds Price, New York Times, April 11, 1982. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
36.^ New York Times, March 11, 1984. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
37.^ Washington Post Book Review, 1987.
38.^ Rich Barlow. Minister sees divine in everyday struggles . Boston Globe, July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
39.^ Richard Kauffman, Ordained to write: an interview with Frederick Buechner; Speak What We Feel Not What We Ought To Say; Interview, The Christian Century, September 11, 2002
40.^ New York Times Book Review, 1980. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
41.^ ThinkExist.com Frederick Buechner quotes. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
42.^ Volunteering completes the calling by Julia Zaher. The Flint Times. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
43.^ Kansas City Star.
44.^ Discovering a Better Life. Article originally published in The West Australian News. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
45.’^ Working to fill world’s ‘deep hunger for God, Q & A with Stephen Montgomery. Compiled by Emily Adams Keplinger. The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
46.^ Dangers of playing the God card by Tapu Misa. The New Zealand Herald. Monday Oct 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
47.^ Is it really as dreadful as it has been made out? by Peter Youngren. The Pembroke Observer. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
48.^ Critics’ choices for Christmas, Commonweal, 2000
49.^ O.C. RELIGION; QUESTIONS OF FAITH; WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK YOU COULD GIVE AS A GIFT, EXCLUDING THE BIBLE AND OTHER SACRED WRITINGS? Los Angeles Times, November 25, 2000.
50.^ Presbyterian Record, 2000.
51.^ The Christian Century, 2000
52.^ Eric Convey, Bridging Heaven and Earth – Author brings secular edge to religious writing. The Boston Herald January 9, 2000.
53.^ Reading that refreshes As spring takes over, spiritual discipline sometimes takes a nosedive. These books of devotions and stories offers focus, encouragement and surprises. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock), April 17, 2004.
54.^ The Buffalo News, June 13, 2004.
55.^ The Son of Laughter, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, June 22, 1994.
56.^ Jacob: The Novel, The New York Times, September 19, 1993
57.^ Painful family secrets point the way to faith, Chicago Tribune, February 10, 1991.
58.^ Wishful Thinking, pp. 38-9, 1973
59.^ The Hungering Dark, 1968
60.^ Now and Then, p. 3, 1983
61.^ Beyond Words, p. 321, 2004
62.^ The Sacred Journey, p. 1, 1982.
63.^ Listening to Your Life, 1992
64.^ Wishful Thinking, p.2, 1973″
65.^ Wishful Thinking, p. 95 1973
66.^ Commencement Address at Union Seminary, Richmond, 1979.
67.^ Wishful Thinking, p. 96, 1973
68.^ Whistling in the Dark, p. 175- 176, 1988
69.^ Faith by the Book: Author preaches about biblical perspective, Grand Rapids Press, 2004.
70.^ Listening to Your Life, 1992.
71.^ a b The Hungering Dark, 1969
72.^ The Sacred Journey, p. 46, 1982
73.^ Author and minister Frederick Beuchner discusses meaning of Easter. Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly with Anchor Bob Abernethy and Reporter Kim Lawton. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
74.^ Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, 2004
75.^ The Magnificent Defeat, p. 143, 1985
76.^ A Journal of Theological Resources for Ministry, Quarterly Review, Spring 1992. Lecture to a Book of the Month Club. PDF. Retrieved 2009.11.06.
77.^ “Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, 1992”
78.^ The Magnificent Defeat, Frederich Buechner[edit] External linksBuechner, part of a film made about Buechner in 2003

Chasm

Smooth, edging along the chasm
Tripping once, slightly
Then getting a toe caught
Then a cramp

Tipping over the drop,
Wondering, “How deep is it?”
And “How hard will I land,
If I land at all?”

And “How much will it hurt?”
Will I break any bones?”
And maybe “What about my family?”
“They won’t know”
And “What will they do without me?”

Keeping cool, dragging the other toe
Frantically searching for a crevice
A bulge, something to hold on to.
Anything!

Gravity starts to do its work
On the body,
And dread pulls down the soul.
“Will there be a tomorrow?”

And then a slip, and another
It all happens in a second
Head dips below knees,
Then below the feet

Into nothing,
Nowhere,
Emptiness.
Panic.

Suddenly,
The desperate fingers catch
On a bit of rock
Along the cliff wall.

The brisk descent
Starts to slow.
Dangling for a moment,
Then the feet catch.

Seized by relief,
Even if temporary,
Darting a glance
To the left, then the right.

How did I get to this place
In my life?
How did I abandon
Everyone and everything
Around and underneath me?

Existentialism

“Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of philosophers since the 19th century who, despite large differences in their positions, generally focused on the condition of human existence, and an individual’s emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts, or the meaning or purpose of life. Existential philosophers often focused more on what they believed was subjective, such as beliefs and religion, or human states, feelings, and emotions, such as freedom, pain, guilt, and regret, as opposed to analyzing objective knowledge, language, or science.”

“The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is regarded as the father of existentialism. He maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely, in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.”

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism

knot

unload offer sneeze sap sank mame
tangent tingle towards tank try sip
trip ebb leak lord lend tease loud
like mouse reach redo ripe ankle might
manger swamped sleek slap etouffe
stripe stick job jaunt jack jeep goof
get grip sis sad clip clop kick said
sit hike hit hot hick-up tuck stood
eat ardor harbor swipe swallow type
whip want weak raw mall lose goose
great gaff glove live orange able
got easy hop psyche swap swear
rabble quick loop lap pale quit knot

sold

order form from nothing anyway ending
into fame found in sappy sender seeking
strange miffed sting elude toward teach
telepathy seed strike same tiff tick too
enwrapped sick swallow nice never nor
nap name nick lick lend loudly endear if
narrow neck eject arrange tapping lame
semblence rapture to be slick stood fight
fidget fork feel follow tube took knife
nudge nip nap steep stick type stiff map
steed loop langorous level leap lid keep
sty mellow tablet mack rude step ten
marker meet form flick fib fender ooze
allowed here sear flubber ick stooge try
fenagle flip toot stab easy took sold

tip

sinking smoothing smothering down
underneath songs singing somber
dings loud angels screaming
words laughing round deep
fallen crunch camped seep
click couch clamp suck make
tend teepee tanker cover kick
kind damp tender staple give
glove gouge gift glean end order
reap ate around lift clever quick
sword emblem reek send if
semblence read ample deed riff
release remember tedious tangle
sift sock sweep quit not sniff
never need knock name ale
dip switch tingle tiff tuck rip
rile seek and ankle tip tork id

In the end

Cast about by tides and whirpools
Of shouts and screams and echoes,
Deep down inside the heart, mind and soul.

Sounds of seemingly endless suffering,
Bursting forth from this bulging edifice.

Bruises on the body are nothing compared
To the tears and scars left by the raging bull
Of the inner need to connect, to find meaning
In the endless routine and monotony of life.

To find someone who understands,
To find something to do that really means something.

What are we left with,
After our life is shattered by the uncaring stares
Of passers-by and tension of a heated argument?

Is there love left in this little world,
Is there faith and hope
In the greater soul?

Where do we turn
When life grabs us by the neck
And drags us out
Of our sheltered habitat?

Who do we call
When no one seems to care,
No one hears our hints,
And no one sees us in our loneliness?

What do we have when it’s all over,
When the end comes around,
When the clock expires,
And we’re all alone?

And then, are we left?

Doubt

Bringing you to a place you never went before,
Discovering new thoughts, new identity, new ideas,
Inspiration for a brighter outlook on life.
Finding out who you really are.

So, what do you really believe?
Not your professed faith, doctrine or philosophy,
But day-to-day, how do your actions bear out
What lies beneath the surface?

In the heart, there are doors
That we keep shut, barred, barricaded.
“Nobody’s gonna get in there,” you tell yourself.
But then it happens.

That crisis.
That worst of all days,
That you never thought would ever come.
He or she leaves, or dies, or rejects you.

You lose your job.
You get a divorce.
You lose a big investment–your car, your house, your reputation.
What is left?

Who are you, now?
What is your purpose in life?
Where are you going?
With whom? And why?

It happens to all of us,
Sooner or later.
That day does come.
But when it does come, and it will,

Are you ready to face it?
Are you ready to say,
“I can do it!”
“I still have me.”

Is that something to stand on?
Do you know who you are?
Are you living that out?
Are you following your dreams?

And, if those dreams don’t come true,
Are you ready to give them up
For another dream?
Hmmmm…

Philip Yancey, Christian Skeptic

“(Philip) Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He coauthored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. “No one has influenced me more,” he says. “We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.” More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.”

http://www.philipyancey.com

To learn more, follow the links on the sidebar to the left under “Christian”, “Interesting Blogs”, “Interviews”, and “Videos”.

gsb3

Revealed

Stand! Feel the gusts blow,
Hard against your naked flesh.

Stand! Feel the wind whip
Your hair, chap your lips,
Cramp your toes.

Stand! Feel the ground grow cold,
The grass dry up.

Stand! Feel your head start to ache,
Your stomach start to rumble,
Your legs start to tremble.

Stand! What are you waiting for?
The horn has sounded!
The cry has gone up from the masses!
The general is at the front, ready to fight!
“Wait until you see the whites of their eyes”,
Then… charge, charge like a soldier
With only fear as your strength,
And dignity as your conviction,
Full of fury, full of death,
Full of no tomorrow,
And fight! Fight like
Satan is your only adversary,
And hell is your battleground.

Darkness sweeps you into its
Cradling arms and whisks you away
In a great storm of deceit.

The real enemy has been discovered!
The man, that has betrayed us all along!
The traitor has been dragged,
Kicking and screaming from his secrets,
Hidden in the farthest cave,
The deadliest land.

This most dangerous man has been named,
The scourge of the wasteland,
The disease in the midst
Of a cause so true,
So crucial, so angelic,
The one who ruins it all,
And that man is you!