Frederick Buechner

Carl Frederick Buechner (/ˈbiːknər/ BEEK-nər; born July 11, 1926) is an American writer, novelist, poet, autobiographer, essayist, preacher, and theologian. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of more than thirty published books.[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 novels, including A Long Day's Dying, The Book of Bebb, Godric (a finalist for the 1981 Pulitzer Prize), and Brendan, his memoirs, including Telling Secrets and The Sacred Journey, and his more theological works, including Secrets in the Dark, The Magnificent Defeat, and Telling the Truth.

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." [2] Buechner was also a finalist for the National Book Award[3] presented by the National Book Foundation and the Pulitzer Prize,[4] and has been awarded eight honorary degrees from such institutions as Yale University[5] and the Virginia Theological Seminary.[6] In addition, Buechner has been the recipient of the O. Henry Award,[7] the Rosenthal Award, the Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize, and has been recognized by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.[8]

Frederick Buechner
Frederick Buechner photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1950
Frederick Buechner photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1950
BornCarl Frederick Buechner
July 11, 1926 (age 92)
New York City
OccupationAuthor, Presbyterian minister
NationalityAmerican
Alma materThe Lawrenceville School
Princeton University
Union Theological Seminary
GenreNovel, short story, essay, sermon, autobiography, historical fiction
Notable works
  • A Long Day's Dying
  • Secrets in the Dark
  • Godric
  • The Book of Bebb
  • The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days
  • The Magnificent Defeat
Notable awardsO. Henry Award, the Rosenthal Award, the Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize
SpouseJudith Buechner

Biography

Early life

Carl Frederick Buechner, the eldest son of Katherine Kuhn and Carl Frederick Buechner Sr., was born on July 11, 1926 in New York City.[9] 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."[10] This changed in 1936, when Buechner's father committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, a result of his conviction that he had been a failure.[11]

Bermuda

Immediately following his father's death, the family moved to Bermuda, where they remained until World War II forced the evacuation of Americans from the island. In Bermuda, Buechner experienced "the blessed relief of coming out of the dark and unmentionable sadness of my father's life and death into fragrance and greenness and light."[12] For a young Buechner, Bermuda became home.

Bermuda left a lasting impression on Buechner. The distinctly British flavor of pre-World War II Bermuda provided in him a lifelong appreciation of English custom and culture, which would later inspire such works as Godric and Brendan. Buechner also frequently mentions Bermuda in his memoirs, including Telling Secrets and The Sacred Journey.

Edith Memorial Chapel at Lawrenceville School, where Buechner attended high school

Education and military service

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.[13] As Mel Gussow wrote in Merrill's 1995 obituary: "their friendly competition was an impetus for each becoming a writer."[14] Buechner then enrolled at Princeton University. His college career was interrupted by—in Buechner’s words—“two years of very undistinguished service” (1944–46) in the Army during World War II, “all of it at several different places in the United States,” including a post as “chief of the statistical section in Camp Pickett, Virginia.”[15] After the war, he returned to graduate with a degree in English in 1948 (though as an alumnus he remained identified as a member of his original Class of '47). Regarding his time at Princeton, Buechner commented in an interview:

I really knew two Princetons. The first one was during the war, when everybody was being drafted or enlisting. It was just one drunken farewell party after another. Nobody did any work. I didn’t learn anything at all. I was in the Army for two years. When I came back, I was so delighted to be free again that I buckled down and learned a few things.[16]

Literary success and ordination

During his senior year at Princeton, Buechner received the Irene Glascock Prize for poetry, and he also began working on his first novel and one of his greatest critical successes: A Long Day's Dying, published in 1950.[17] The contrast between the success of his first novel and the commercial failure of his second, The Seasons’ Difference (1952), a novel with characters based on Buechner and his adolescent friend James Merrill which developed a more explicit Christian theme,[18] was palpably felt by the young novelist, 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.

Chapel at Princeton University, Buechner's alma mater

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."[19] 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.[20]

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:

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."[22] 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.

Exeter

In September 1958, the Buechners moved to Exeter. There, Buechner faced the challenge of creating a new religion 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."[23] 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, Vermont, 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 his ordination, The Final Beast represented a new style for Buechner, one in which he combined 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."[24] Among these students was the future author John Irving, who included a quotation from Buechner as an epigraph 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."[25]

Vermont and recent years

In the summer of 1967, after nine years at Exeter and having successfully established the Religion Department, Buechner moved with his family to their farmhouse in Vermont 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."[26]

There Buechner dedicated himself full-time to writing. 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 included 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.""[27] Thence came the idea to write about the everyday events of life, Buechner writes in Now and Then: "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."[28]

Buechner continues to publish occasionally; his latest book, A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory, was released in 2017. It is a collection of essays. All but one have been published previously.

Writing

Early writing

The publication of A Long Day's Dying catapulted Buechner into early and, in his own words, "undeserved" fame. Of his debut novel, Buechner wrote:

"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."[29]

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. Conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein commented on the novel:

"I have rarely been so moved by a perception. Mr. Buechner shows a remarkable insight into one of the least easily expressible tragedies of modern man; the basic incapacity of persons really to communicate with one another. That he has made this frustration manifest, in such a personal and magnetic way, and at the age of twenty-three, constitutes a literary triumph."[30]

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 publication of Buechner's third novel, The Return of Ansel Gibbs (written while on sabbatical from Union Theological Seminary) coincided with Buechner's ordination and move to Exeter, where he began to publish non-fiction.

Nonfiction and memoirs

Buechner's works of non-fiction, which cover several sub-genres including sermons, daily reflections, and memoirs, altogether outnumber his works of fiction. His first such work, The Magnificent Defeat, is a collection of sermons, signifying his growth into his career as a minister at Exeter. Throughout his career, he published several more volumes of sermons, most recently Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, which includes a "more or less [chronological] culling" of his sermons, "together with the most recent and hitherto unpublished ones."[31]

To date, Buechner's corpus of memoir includes four volumes: The Sacred Journey (1982), Now and Then (1983), Telling Secrets (1991), and The Eyes of the Heart (1999). Of all his books, The Sacred Journey and Telling Secrets consistently rank among his bestselling. Of his interest in memoir, Buechner wrote in the introduction to The Sacred Journey:

"About ten years ago I gave a set of lectures at Harvard in which I made the observation that all theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography, and that what a theologian is doing essentially is examining as honestly as he can the rough-and-tumble of his own experience with all its ups and downs, its mysteries and loose ends, and expressing in logical, abstract terms the truths about human life and about God that he believes he has found implicit there. More as a novelist than as a theologian, more concretely than abstractly, I determined to try to describe my own life as evocatively and candidly as I could in the hope that such glimmers of theological truth as I believed I had glimpsed in it would shine through my description more or less on their own. It seemed to me then, and seems to me still, that if God speaks to us at all in this world, if God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks."[32]

Buechner's most recent publications include Buechner 101: Essays and Sermons by Frederick Buechner (2014), The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life (2017), and A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory (2017).

Later novels: The Book of Bebb, Godric, Brendan

Concurrent with Buechner's delivery of the Noble Lectures, that he developed the most significant character of 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."[33]

The Book of Bebb tetralogy proved to be 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 very positive reviews (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."[34] 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. The novel, a historical fiction, is written in the first person from the perspective of Saint Godric of Finchale, a 12th-century English hermit, and Buechner took great care to recreate the sounds and rhythm of his speech, preferring words of Anglo-Saxon etymology to those of Latin.

"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."[35]

Brendan (1987), a work of historical fiction like Godric, draws from the life of the 6th-century Irish monk Saint Brendan the Navigator. Experimenting further with the narrative technique Buechner employed to such dramatic effect in Godric, Brendan interweaves history and legend in an evocative portrayal of the sixth-century Irish saint as seen through the eyes of Finn, his childhood friend and loyal follower. Buechner's colorful recreation of the Celtic world of fifteen hundred years ago earned him the Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize in 1987.

Tributes and legacy

Awards and Honors
Irene Glascock Prize for Poetry1948
O. Henry Award for "The Tiger"1955
Rosenthal Award for The Return of Ansel Gibbs1959
Fiction Finalist, National Book Award for Lion Country1972
Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Godric1981
American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters1982
Christianity and Literature Belles Lettres Prize1987
Critics' Choice Books Award for Fiction for Son of Laughter1994
Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature2007
Honorary Doctorates
Virginia Theological Seminary1982
Lafayette College1984
Lehigh University1987
Cornell College1989
Yale University1990
The University of the South1996
Susquehanna University1998
Wake Forest University2000
King College2008

In 2001, Californian rock band Daniel Amos released a double album titled "Mr. Buechner's Dream." The album contains over thirty songs and pays tribute to Frederick Buechner, "who has been a major inspiration on the band's lyrics for years." The C.D. version of the album contains a picture of Buechner holding a note which says "I enjoyed my dream."

In the words of The Reverend Samuel Lloyd, former dean of Washington National Cathedral, Buechner's words "have nurtured the lives of untold seekers and followers" through "his capacity to see into the heart of every day."[36]

Buechner's readers are often intrigued and inspired by the confluence of genres within his works:

"Buechner's theological efforts are never systematic treatises but instead short, highly literary productions in most of which he draws explicit links with fiction-writing generally and his own fiction in particular...Buechner's 1969 Noble Lectures at Harvard, published in 1970 as The Alphabet of Grace, comprise a slender volume which is one of his most important and revealing works. Here the intimate relationship Buechner sees among fiction, theology, and autobiography is first made clear and fully embodied; and the book itself is a thoroughly lyrical piece."[37]

Buechner's combination of literary style with approachable subject matter has certainly affected contemporary Christian literature: "In my view," writes his biographer Marjorie McCoy, "Buechner is doing a distinctively new thing on the literary scene, writing novels that are theologically exciting without becoming propaganda, and doing theology with artistic style and imagination."[38] Buechner's earliest works, written before his entrance into Union Theological Seminary, were hailed as profoundly literary works, notable for their dense, descriptive style. Of his first novel, A Long Day's Dying, David Daiches wrote: "There is a quality of civilized perception here, a sensitive and plastic handling of English prose and an ability to penetrate to the evanescent core of a human situation, all proclaiming major talent."[39] From this promising beginning, however, it has been the application of Buechner's literary talent to theological issues that has continued to fascinate his audience:

"Ever since the publication of A Long Day's Dying...Frederick Buechner has been one of our most interesting and least predictable writers. Others might have repeated their success or failures, but he has not. From the sophisticated urban world of that first book, through The Return of Ansel Gibbs with its world of politics and public affairs, to the private, half-haunted pastoral world of The Entrance to Porlock, he has created a series of novels of startlingly different moods and manners, people and places. The one constant has been the masterful use of great stylistic powers to organize and control his highly original and complex vision of life."

Of his more recent style, the pastor and author Brian D. McLaren says:

"I have no desire to analyze what makes Buechner's writing and preaching so extraordinary. Neither do I want to account for Bob Dylan's raspy mystique, the peculiar beauty of a rainbow trout in a riffle, or a thunderstorm's magnetic terror. I simply want to enjoy them. They all knock me out of analysis and smack me clear into pleasure and awe."[40]

Throughout Buechner's work his hallmark as a theologian and autobiographer is his regard for the appearance of the divine in daily life. By examining the day-to-day workings of his own life, Buechner seeks to find God's hand at work, thus leading his audience by example to similar introspection. The Reverend Samuel Lloyd describes his "capacity to see into the heart of every day," an ability that reflects the significance of daily events onto the reader's life as well.[41] In the words of the preacher Barbara Brown Taylor: "From [Buechner] I've learned that the only limit to the revelation going on all around me is my willingness to turn aside and look."[42]

Buechner Writer's Workshop at Princeton

Princeton Theological Seminary hosts an annual Buechner Writing Workshop. The workshop is designed to "encourage, educate, and inspire writers to communicate their Christian faith with clarity and power in the tradition of Frederick Buechner." Past speakers have included authors such as Barbara Brown Taylor, Rachel Held Evans, Philip Gulley, Dr. M. Craig Barnes, Philip Yancey, and Kathleen Norris..

The Buechner Institute at King University

Inaugurated in 2008 at King University, the former King College, the Buechner Institute was dedicated to the work and example of Frederick Buechner, exploring the intersections and collisions of faith and culture that define our times.

Dale Brown, the founding director of the Buechner Institute, was the author of numerous articles and the recent critical biography, The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings.

The Buechner Institute sponsored weekly convocations in Memorial Chapel on the campus of King University that featured speakers from a variety of backgrounds who examined the ways in which faith informs art and public life and cultivate conversation about what faith has to do with books, politics, social discourse, music, visual arts, and more.

Additionally, the Buechner Institute sponsored the Annual Buechner Lecture. The following is the list of lecturers invited to speak thus far:

A summer symposium on the work of Frederick Buechner, Buechnerfest, was featured in 2010 and 2012. Attendees from around the country spent a week of reading and entertainment on the Virginia/Tennessee border.

The work of the Institute was guided by a local Governing Board and a National Advisory Board. National board members included Doris Betts, Walter Brueggemann, Scott Cairns, Michael Card, Elizabeth Dewberry, Tim Gautreaux, Philip Gulley, Ron Hansen, Roy Herron, Silas House, Richard Hughes, Thomas G. Long, Tom Lynch, Brian McLaren, Carrie Newcomer, Kathleen Norris, Katherine Paterson, Eugene H. Peterson, Charles Pollard, Barbara Brown Taylor, Will Willimon, John Wilson, Philip Yancey, Doug Worgul, and others.

In 2015, following the untimely death of Dr. Dale Brown King University changed the name of the Buechner Institute to 'The Institute of Faith and Culture.'

In the media

Buechner's work has been praised highly by many reviewers of books, with the distinct exception of his second novel, The Season's Difference, which was universally panned by critics and remains his biggest commercial flop. His later novels, including the Book of Bebb series and Godric, received hearty praise; in his 1980 review of Godric, Benjamin DeMott summed up a host of positive reviews, saying "All on his own, Mr. Buechner has managed to reinvent projects of self-purification and of faith as piquant matter for contemporary fiction, producing in a single decade a quintet of books each of which is individual in concerns and knowledge, and notable for literary finish."[43] In 1982, author Reynolds Price greeted Buechner's The Sacred Journey as "a rich new vein for Buechner – a kind of detective autobiography" and "[t]he result is a short but fascinating and, in its own terms, beautifully successful experiment."[44]

Buechner has occasionally been accused of being too "preachy;" a 1984 review by Anna Shapiro in the New York Times notes "But for all the colloquialism, there is something, well, preachy and a little unctuous about making yourself an exemplar of faith. Insights that would do for a paragraph are dragged out with a doggedness that will presumably bring the idea home to even the most resistant and inattentive."[45] The sentiments expressed by Cecelia Holland's 1987 Washington Post review of Buechner's novel, Brendan, are far more common. She writes,"In our own time, when religion is debased, an electronic game show, an insult to the thirsty soul, Buechner's novel proves again the power of faith, to lift us up, to hold us straight, to send us on again."[46]

In 2008, the 50th anniversary of Buechner's ordination, Rich Barlowe wrote of Buechner in the Boston Globe, "Who knows? The words are Frederick Buechner's mantra. Over the course of an hourlong chat with the writer and Presbyterian minister in his kitchen, they recur any number of times in response to questions about his faith and theology. Dogmatic religious believers would dismiss the two words as the warning shot of doubt. But for Buechner, it is precisely our doubts and struggles that mark us as human. And that insight girds his theological twist on Socrates: The unexamined human life is a lost chance to behold the divine."[47] In 2002, Richard Kauffman interviewed Buechner for The Christian Century upon the publication of Speak What We Feel (Not What We Ought to Say). Buechner answered the question "Do you envision a particular audience when you write?" by saying "I always hope to reach people who don't want to touch religion with a ten-foot pole. The cultured despisers of religion, Schleiermacher called them. Maybe some of my books reach them. But most of my readers, as far as I can tell, aren't that type. Many of them are ministers. They say, 'You've given us something back we lost and opened up doors we didn't think could be opened for people.'"[48]

Buechner has also played literary critic himself. In 1980 Buechner reviewed Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth by J. R. R. Tolkien, noting that the book was "in short, a production less of Tolkien himself than of the Tolkien industry."[49] Nevertheless, Buechner is a great admirer of the author, claiming that he read "Tolkien with more intensity than I read almost anything else."[50]

Buechner's largest presence in the media, however, is through the hundreds of readers who quote his works[51] on a daily basis in articles, blogs, and speeches. Writers include his quotes in pieces for The Flint Times in Michigan,[52] The Kansas City Star,[53] The West Australian News,[54] The Commercial Appeal in Memphis,[55] The New Zealand Herald,[56] and the Pembroke Observer in Ontario.[57]

Bibliography

Selected bibliography

  • A Long Day's Dying, 1950 (ISBN 978-0972429542)
  • The Magnificent Defeat, 1966 (ISBN 9780060611743)
  • Telling the Truth: The Gospel As Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, 1977 (ISBN 9780060611569)
  • The Book of Bebb, 1979 (ISBN 9780062517692)
  • Godric, 1980 (ISBN 9780060611620)
  • The Sacred Journey, 1982 (ISBN 9780060611835)
  • Brendan, 1987 (ISBN 9780060611781)
  • Telling Secrets, a Memoir, 1991 (ISBN 9780060611811)
  • Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, 1992 (ISBN 9780060698645)
  • Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, 2006 (ISBN 978-0-06-084248-2)

See also

References

  1. ^ About Frederick Buechner. Archived February 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on August 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Annie Dillard Log: Blurbs. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  3. ^ The National Book Awards Winners & Finalists, Since 1950. PDF. Retrieved November 5, 2009. Archived June 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists by Year. Retrieved December 17, 2018
  5. ^ Yale Honorary Degrees Since 1702. Retrieved December 17, 2018. Archived June 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Faith Gateway: About Frederick Buechner. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  7. ^ Random House: The O'Henry Prize Stories Retrieved on December 17, 2018.
  8. ^ American Academy of Arts and Lectures Archived June 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on August 3, 2011.
  9. ^ Buechner Institute Biography. Retrieved on August 3, 2011.
  10. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982). The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days. HarperOne. p. 20. ISBN 9780060611835
  11. ^ Frederick Buechner Facts. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1991). Telling Secrets: A Memoir. HarperOne. ISBN 9780060609368
  13. ^ The Wheaton Archives. Retrieved on December 17, 2018.
  14. ^ Gussow, Mel (February 7, 1995). "James Merrill Is Dead at 68; Elegant Poet of Love and Loss." The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018
  15. ^ Buechner, Frederick (2017). The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life. Zondervan. p.79. ISBN 9780310351900
  16. ^ Reidy, Maurice Timothy (November 14, 2012). Pay Attention to Your Life. Retrieved December 17, 2018
  17. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982). The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days. HarperOne. p. 107. ISBN 9780060611835
  18. ^ Merrill, James. A Different Person, A Memoir, Knopf, 1993, p. 62.
  19. ^ Buechner, Frederick (2017). The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life. Zondervan. p.84. ISBN 9780310351900
  20. ^ Hodges, Sam (July 19, 2008). With Current Generation of Pastors Close to Retirement, Leaders Seek Young Clergy. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  21. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1983). Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 10. ISBN 9780061974533
  22. ^ Buechner, Frederick (2017). The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life. Zondervan. p. 85. ISBN 9780310351900
  23. ^ Frederick, Buechner (1983). Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. Zondervan. p. 47. ISBN 9780061974533
  24. ^ Frederick, Buechner (1983). Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. Zondervan. p. 43. ISBN 9780061974533
  25. ^ McCoy, Marjorie Casebier (1988). Frederick Buechner: Novelist and Theologian of the Lost and Found. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 9780060653293
  26. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1983). Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 77. ISBN 9780061974533
  27. ^ Smith, L.A. (2018). Year of Reading Buechner: The Alphabet of Grace. The Blog of L.A. Smith. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  28. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1983). Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. HarperSanFrancisco p. 86. ISBN 9780061974533
  29. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982). The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days. HarperOne. p. 98. ISBN 9780060611835
  30. ^ Buckingham Books Overview. A Long Day's Dying. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  31. ^ Buechner, Frederick (2007). "Introduction". Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061146619
  32. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982). "Introduction". The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days. HarperOne. ISBN 9780060611835
  33. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982).Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 97. ISBN 9780061974533
  34. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982). Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 97. ISBN 9780061974533
  35. ^ Buechner, Frederick (1982). Now and Then: A Memoir of Early Vocation. HarperSanFrancisco. p. 106. ISBN 9780061974533
  36. ^ Lloyd, Samuel(April 5, 2006). The Art of the Sermon: a Tribute to Frederick Buechner.
  37. ^ Woelfel, James (October 3, 1983). "Frederick Buechner: The Novelist as Theologian." Theology Today. Vol. 40.
  38. ^ McCoy, Marjorie Casebier (1988). Frederick Buechner: Novelist and Theologian of the Lost and Found. HarperCollins. p. 14. ISBN 9780060653293
  39. ^ Daiches, David (January 8, 1950) New York Times Book Review.
  40. ^ McLaren, Brian D. (2007). "Foreword." Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061146619
  41. ^ Lloyd, Samuel (April 5, 2006). The Art of the Sermon: A Tribute to Frederick Buechner.
  42. ^ Taylor, Barbara Brown (2006). "A Tribute to Frederick Buechner." Buechner 101: Essays and Sermons by Frederick Buechner. Frederick Buechner Center. p.19. ISBN 9780990871903
  43. ^ DeMott, Benjamin (December 25, 1983). "Godric." New York Times Book Review. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  44. ^ Price, Reynolds (April 11, 1982)."The Road to Devotion". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  45. ^ Shapiro, Anna (March 11, 1984). "In Short". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  46. ^ Holland, Cecilia (1987). Washington Post Book World.
  47. ^ Barlowe, Rich (July 5, 2008). "Minister Sees Divine in Everyday Struggles". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  48. ^ Kauffman, Richard (September 11, 2002). "Ordained to Write: An Interview with Frederick Buechner". Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  49. ^ Buechner, Frederick (November 16, 1980). "For Devotees of Middle Earth". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  50. ^ Brown, Dale W. (2007). The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 0664231136
  51. ^ Frederick Buechner quotes. Retrieved on August 3, 2011.
  52. ^ Zaher, Julia (December 28, 2008). "Volunteering Completes the Calling". The Flint Times. Retrieved on August 3, 2011.
  53. ^ Kansas City Star. Retrieved on August 3, 2011.
  54. ^ "Discovering a Better Life". The West Australian News. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  55. ^ The Commercial Appeal Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  56. ^ Misa, Tapu (October 19, 2008). "Tapu Misa: Dangers of Playing the God Card". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  57. ^ The Pembroke Observer. Retrieved December 17, 2018.

External links

Büchner

Büchner (or Buechner) is a German language surname related to the word Buche (German: beech) and may refer to:

Georg Büchner (1813–1837), German writer and playwright

Ludwig Büchner (1824–1899), German philosopher

Ernst Büchner (1850–1925), German chemist after whom the Büchner flask and Büchner funnel are named

Joachim Büchner (1905–1978), German athlete

Eberhard Büchner (born 1939), German tenor

Wolfgang Büchner (canoeist), German slalom canoeist

Wolfgang Büchner (journalist) (born 1966), German journalistIn the anglicized spelling "Buechner", it may refer to:

Frederick Buechner (born 1926), American author and minister

John C. Buechner (1934–2018), American educator and politician

Margaret Buechner (1922–1998), a German-born, American composer

Sara Davis Buechner (born David Buechner, 1959), American concert pianist

Karl Buechner (born 1971), American metalcore vocalist

Doug Worgul

Doug Worgul (born September 13, 1953) is an American writer and editor based in Kansas City.

Eyes of the Heart

Eyes of the Heart may refer to:

Eyes of the Heart (album), by Keith Jarrett (1979)

Eyes of the Heart (film), a 1920 crime film

Eyes of the Heart, a 2004 play by Catherine Filloux

"Eyes of the Heart (Radio's Song)", song by India.Arie on the Radio film soundtrack (2003)

The Eyes of the Heart, 1999 memoir by Frederick Buechner

The Eyes of the Heart, a 2000 book by Jean-Bertrand Aristide

The Eyes of the Heart, a 1905 play by Minnie Maddern Fiske

Frederick Buechner bibliography

This is a list of published works by writer and theologian Frederick Buechner.

Glascock Prize

The Glascock Poetry Prize is awarded to the winner of the annual Kathryn Irene Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Contest at Mount Holyoke College. The "invitation-only competition is sponsored by the English department at Mount Holyoke and counts many well-known poets, including Sylvia Plath and James Merrill, among its past winners" and is thought to be the "oldest intercollegiate poetry competition."

Godric (novel)

Godric (ISBN 0-06-061162-6) is a novel published in 1981, written by Frederick Buechner, that tells the semi-fictionalised life story of medieval Catholic saint Godric of Finchale. The novel was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Godric is told in Saint Godric's own voice: Buechner intentionally uses style, tone, and word choice to evoke a "mediaeval" manner of speaking. The book unfolds with Godric narrating the events of his life in retrospect, as he looks back on his hundred years of life and does not see the saintly existence that many ascribe to him. The honest earthiness of Godric's account of his life—his candour in describing his most pious acts and most wretched sins—made this book a critical favourite. The Times, for example, noted in its Literary Supplement that "Godric is a living battleground where God fights it out with the world, the Flesh, and the Devil."

As a historical novel it provides a gateway for understanding mediaeval history with the full breadth of imagination, characterisation and emotion in which non-fiction history is restricted. Some of the historical themes Buechner masterfully envisions in the book include blood libels, pilgrimage, Christian asceticism, hagiography, traveling court culture, Norman and Saxon relations.

Godric of Finchale

St Godric of Finchale (or St Goderic) (c. 1065 – 21 May 1170) was an English hermit, merchant and popular medieval saint, although he was never formally canonised. He was born in Walpole in Norfolk and died in Finchale in County Durham.

Leo Bebb

Leo Bebb is a fictional clergyman who is featured in The Book of Bebb, a tetralogy by Frederick Buechner. Cynthia Ozick calls him a "lustily flawed hero".

Lion Country

Lion Country is a novel by Frederick Buechner, and the first in the Book of Bebb series. Lion Country was written in 1971, and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.

Lion Country is written in the first person. The narrator, Antonio Parr, is a writer who attempts a piece of investigative journalism. Parr tries to expose Leo Bebb, a clergyman who runs a diploma mill, as a con-man. Parr becomes friends with Bebb, however, and marries Bebb's daughter.

The title of the novel comes from the Lion Country Safari, which is featured in the book.

Cynthia Ozick calls Lion Country and its sequel, Open Heart, "God-hungry comic novels speckled with dying and laughter."

List of Christian fiction authors

This is a list of authors of Christian fiction.

List of Christian novels

This is a list of published titles in the Christian fiction genre, some recently published, some best-sellers.

Luther Seminary

Luther Seminary is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is the largest seminary of the ELCA. It also accepts and educates students of 41 other denominations and traditions. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (formerly known as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) and the Association of Theological Schools. It also has theological accreditation through the ELCA as well as the United Methodist Church.

Margaret Smith (poet)

Margaret D. Smith (born 1958) is an American writer, poet, musician, and artist. Her name is now Margaret Kellermann (2011- ).

Smith (Kellermann) was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Her books of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, published under her name Margaret D. Smith, include Barn Swallow (2006), The Seed in Me (2001), Made With Love (1998), A Holy Struggle: Unspoken Thoughts of Hopkins (1992, 1994), Journal Keeper (1992, 1993), and The Rose and the Pearl coauthored by Rose Reynoldson (1982).

She is a frequent guest lecturer on a variety of topics: poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, writing for adults and children, journal keeping as a spiritual practice, and the combination of the arts, such as poetry and visual art. Her work in collage using found pieces has been shown in galleries in Seattle and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Her recent art—abstract seascapes on canvas—appears in galleries throughout Northern California.

In a 2007 interview with the author, Jeffrey Overstreet calls her "one of the most inspiring and creative artists I know." He goes on to say, "As far as I’m concerned, Margaret’s poetry and perspective qualify her as part of an elite community of Christians who have extraordinary insight into matters of faith and art. She’s carrying on the tradition of [Kathleen] Norris, [Annie] Dillard, [Luci] Shaw, [Frederick] Buechner, [Madeleine] L’Engle, [Flannery] O’Connor, [Dorothy] Sayers, [C.S.] Lewis, and [George] MacDonald."

Two of the authors mentioned by Overstreet were part of "A Holy Struggle": Shaw and L'Engle. In 1991, Shaw, whose publishing company had already accepted the book manuscript, financed a research trip to England, Ireland and Wales, where she and Smith retraced the path of Hopkins, and Shaw took a series of black-and-white photographs that later illustrated the book. After Shaw and Smith visited L'Engle in her salon in Manhattan, L'Engle wrote a review of the manuscript: "I have long loved Hopkins, and Margaret has caught the spirit of the poet." National Book Award winner Walter Wangerin wrote the foreword, writing about the author, the work and the world in general: "Pay attention!"

As Margaret Kellermann, the author was the 2016 recipient of the Ruth Marcus Memorial Writing Scholarship, through the Humboldt Area Foundation. The scholarship allowed her to recently complete her book manuscript, a novel in journal form for middle-grade readers. The book (soon to be published) stars young Annie, a smart girl who happens to be homeless, rather than the other way around. Annie writes in her journal about a dysfunctional family road trip across the country.

Princeton Theological Seminary

Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) is a private, nonprofit, and independent graduate school of theology in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1812 under the auspices of Archibald Alexander, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), it is the second-oldest seminary in the United States. It is also the largest of ten seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Princeton Seminary has long been influential in theological studies, with many leading biblical scholars, theologians, and clergy among its faculty and alumni. In addition, it operates one of the largest theological libraries in the world and maintains a number of special collections, including the Karl Barth Research Collection in the Center for Barth Studies. The Seminary also manages an endowment of $986 million, making it the third-wealthiest institution of higher learning in the state of New Jersey—after Princeton University and Rutgers University.

Today, Princeton Seminary enrolls approximately 500 students. While around 40% of them are candidates for ministry specifically in the Presbyterian Church, the majority are completing such candidature in other denominations, pursuing careers in academia across a number of different disciplines, or receiving training for other, non-theological fields altogether.Seminarians hold academic reciprocity with Princeton University as well as the Westminster Choir College of Rider University, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, and the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. The institution also has an ongoing relationship with the Center of Theological Inquiry.

Terry Scott Taylor

Terry Scott Taylor (born May 24, 1950) is an American songwriter, record producer, writer and founding member of the bands Daniel Amos and The Swirling Eddies (credited as Camarillo Eddy). Taylor is also a member of the roots and alternative music group, Lost Dogs. He is currently based in San Jose, California, U.S.

Taylor is highly regarded for his songwriting skills. These often include allusions to and reworkings of material ranging from Elizabethan poets to modern authors. Foremost among Taylor's influences is William Blake. The Daniel Amos album title Fearful Symmetry was drawn from Blake's poem "The Tyger," and numerous songs across The Alarma! Chronicles series of albums have Blake-inspired references. Some other poets who have influenced Taylor's work are T. S. Eliot and Christina Rossetti. Eliot's poetry inspired the song "Hollow Man" from the Doppelgänger album. "Where Dreams Come True" from Taylor's solo album, A Briefing for the Ascent, draws heavily from Rosetti's poem "Echo".

The inspiration for many Daniel Amos and Taylor songs from the mid-1980s can be found in the book Behold, This Dreamer: Of Reverie, Night, Sleep, Dream, Love-Dreams, Nightmare, Death. This book, compiled by Walter de la Mare and published in 1939, contains poems and essays that appear in Taylor's songwriting. De la Mare is thanked in the liner notes of the final installment of The Alarma! Chronicles, Fearful Symmetry. References to contemporary authors also appear in Taylor's songs. One example is the song "Shape of Air" from the LP Darn Floor-Big Bite. The song explores the mystical musings of Annie Dillard found in her Pulitzer prize-winning book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The album is also heavily inspired by the works of Czesław Miłosz. This is especially evident in songs like "The Unattainable Earth" (which was named after one of Miłosz' books), "Safety Net", "Pictures of the Gone World", "Divine Instant", and "Half Light, Epoch, and Phase". On Taylor's 1998 release, John Wayne, he credits more influences; Flannery O'Connor, Dennis Prager and Frederick Buechner.

During the 1990s and into the new millennium, Taylor's songwriting for the Lost Dogs and on other projects turned away from more esoteric themes. The songs crafted during this phase of Taylor's career marked a shift toward "Americana" and, in some ways, a return to the country music sound of Daniel Amos in the early 1970s. The primary vehicle for this phase of Taylor's songwriting career is the Lost Dogs, with a number of noteworthy solo projects. The Lost Dogs began in 1991 as a one-time collaboration between vocalists and songwriters from four different bands at the behest of their label at that time. Taylor, Gene Eugene (of Adam Again), Derri Daugherty (of The Choir), and Michael Roe (of The 77s) have released several eclectic albums of traditional American music (country, folk, blues, rock) over the last decade.

The Book of Bebb

The Book of Bebb is a novel tetralogy by Frederick Buechner. The series consists of Lion Country (1971), Open Heart (1972), Love Feast (1974) and Treasure Hunt (1977). The tetralogy was then edited and published in one volume as The Book of Bebb (1979).

The Bebb novels revolve around the figure of Leo Bebb, a clergyman with a shady past, and are narrated by his son-in-law, Antonio Parr. Timothy K. Jones notes that Buechner "did not flinch at depicting Bebb's shady finances and sexual exhibitionism."W. Dale Brown argues that The Book of Bebb "continues with the questions dominating all of Buechner's work: belief versus unbelief, the ambiguities of life, the nature of sin, human lostness, spiritual homesickness, the quest for self-identity, the need for self-revelation, the search for meaning, and the possibility of joy." Brown goes on to suggest that "Buechner's repeated use of ambiguous protagonists as channels of grace suggests Graham Greene, J. F. Powers and Robertson Davies."

The Supper of the Lamb

The Supper of the Lamb is a food book by Robert Farrar Capon. It was first published in 1969, and has been republished several times. It has been included in the Modern Library Food series.

Capon was an Episcopal priest, and Lauren Winner describes this book as "part cookbook, part theological meditation – something like M. F. K. Fisher meets the desert fathers." Frederick Buechner described it as transcending category: "To call The Supper of the Lamb a cookbook would be like calling Moby Dick a whaling manual."The title is an allusion to the "marriage supper of the Lamb" depicted in the 19th chapter of the Book of Revelation, as well as a recipe for "Lamb for eight persons four times", which forms the basis for most of the book's discussions.

The book is not a cookbook in the strictest sense - it covers a wide variety of theological topics in between segments on cooking. A reader must read a good deal of the book in order to make the flagship recipe.

Voices from the Other World

"Voices from the Other World" is a celebrated early poem by James Merrill (1926-1995). it marks the poet's first use of transcripts from a ouija board, a trope later explored at great length in the poet's apocalyptic epic "The Changing Light at Sandover" (1982).

The poem, written in the first person plural, consists of nine irregularly-rhymed five-line stanzas. The (unnamed) narrators of the poem are Merrill and his partner David Jackson, who together — after a Ouija board had been given to Merrill as a present by his friend Frederick Buechner in the early 1950s — would conduct hundreds of private séance sessions over the course of nearly four decades, an undertaking Merrill would come to mine extensively for "material." In this early spiritual encounter, the ouija board voices warn Merrill and Jackson of the perils of speaking with the dead, though by poem's end the two mediums have been lulled into a sense of nonchalance about the enterprise.

"Voices from the Other World" was first published in book form in The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace (1959).

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