Tag Archives | Frederick Buechner

To See Jesus | Frederick Buechner

To see him with the heart is not only to believe in him but little by little to become bearers to each other of his healing life until we become finally healed and whole and alive within ourselves.

—Frederick Beuchner, “The Seeing Heart” in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, 264.

Secrets in the Dark | Frederick Buechner

Buechner’s writing is just plan beautiful. At times it has the potential to take your breath away. He combines deep spiritual insight—something only acquired through years of living with God—with a poet’s flair for prose.

Secrets in the Dark is a collection of sermons (with a couple addresses thrown in for good measure) spoken over the course of his life. As you read through them, you can see how God has led his life.

Here’s an example of the sort of beautiful insight I mentioned:

If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. (“The Church” 149)

As a pastor, I don’t get to sit and take in many sermons. When I do have the opportunity, I have a tendency to pick apart the homily to see how it was constructed and what I would change. It’s been very healthy for me to hear these sermons. They’ve cut through my professional defenses and left a mark.

God’s Joy in our Blood | Frederick Buechner

God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world and in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in his image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by him, his mark is deep within us. We have God’s joy in our blood.

—Frederick Buechner, “The Great Dance” in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, 240.

Explaining Evil | Frederick Buechner

The psalmist doesn’t try to explain evil. He doesn’t try to minimize evil. He simply says he will not fear evil. For all the power that evil has, it doesn’t have the power to make him afraid.

—Frederick Buechner, “The Clown in the Belfry” in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, 128.

The Faces of Jesus | Frederick Buechner

The Faces of Jesus is Buechner’s brief survey of Jesus’ life. He takes the reader through the important moments of Jesus’ life with a poet’s eye for beauty.

Unfortunately, the style of writing that so amazed me in Now and Then seemed largely absent here. It could have been my familiarity with the subject matter, but this book left me largely unmoved. To be sure, there were moments of poetic brilliance (this is Buechner we’re talking about!)—but they seemed few and far between.

I must add that Paraclete Press didn’t do the book any favors by selecting different sized fonts seemingly at random. It almost felt like they were stretching the material to make (almost) 100 pages.

I’ll keep reading Buechner, but my prior enthusiasm has been slightly dampened.

Now and Then | Frederick Buechner

This is an important book. I expected an autobiography of Buechner’s life from when he decided to enter Union Theological Seminary until 1983. I received far more.

This book is holy. It will not satisfy the intellectual curiosity of a Buechner reader—it speaks to the core of the human experience. With a heart sensitive to the Spirit, and a master’s command of language, Buechner transforms thoughts about his own life into universal truth. There was one point in the book when he shifted gears and spoke more directly to the reader. It almost knocked me off my chair:

Listen to your life.

All moments are key moments.

Buechner’s honesty also struck home. Hear his reflections on prayer:

I was less a man praying than a man being a man praying, and no clear answer came, none that I could hear anyway, . . .

Who hasn’t felt like that?

This is the first thing I’ve read by Buechner. I providentially stumbled across this slim volume in a secondhand bookstore in Nashville, with the inside of the front cover marked: $19.95 $9.99 $6.00.

All moments are key moments.

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