A Tribute to Frederick Buechner

by Kristyn Komarnicki

It isn't his birthday, and he didn't just die, so why the tribute to novelist/theological muser/pastor Frederick Buechner? Because he writes things like this:

"If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party. The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business. The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified. The world says, Drive carefully—the life you save may be your own—and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love. The world says, Get, and Jesus says, Give. In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion".

(from The Faces of Jesus, originally published by Simon & Schuster in 1974, rereleased by Paraclete Press in 2006).

Buechner's gut-level honesty—both about his own spiritual failings and doubts and about Christ's attractive/repulsive call on our lives—has gained him a loyal following among the warts-and-all crowd. I just started rereading The Book of Bebb, (Harper & Row, 1979; reissued in 2001), Buechner's delightfully earthy yet heaven-gazing tetralogy about a couple of con artists (a preacher and his alleged apprentice) who bumble into faith and grace. And it fills me with hope for the state of "Christian" art and with joy over the way Christ's salvation can sneak into the tiniest cracks in our armor and seep into our souls without us even realizing it, until it's too late, and we wake up saved, wondering how we got here.

He's not for every taste, I'm sure, but if you want to know more, check out the following links and pick up one of his books. I predict you'll soon be hooked.

Documentary
Buechner from New Life films (2003). You can watch an excerpt here.

Read 104 favorite Buechner quotes.

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3 Responses

  1. obutz says:

    Thanks for sharing, Kristyn! I read Godric and Brendan, and really enjoyed them, and hope to dive more into some of his other work – fiction and non-fiction alike!

  2. Jordan says:

    Always excited to see someone laud the great Frederick Buechner. Fell in love with his writing ever since, back in the 90's I heard a band called Jawbone Hill discuss Godric (they had written a song about it). I was blown away by that books fragility, honesty and power. I live in the hope that he continues to write, for my soul needs the encouragement.

  1. November 16, 2012

    […] Tribute to Frederick Buechner Kristyn Komarnicki, the excellent editor of PRISM, shared a brief tribute to one of my own favorite […]

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