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Frederick Buechner

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Anybody else here a Buechner fan?

I'm sitting here just burning with jealousy that he will be making a rare public appearance in April, at Washington's National Cathedral, for a panel discussion. He's a great speaker. Saw him once back in, oh, 1991 or 92, I think, here at SPU and I've hoped he would come back on a book tour or something.

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I haven't read Godric (put down the stones, its on my list), but I love Wishful Thinking. Rather that give graduating high school seniors some stupid ConGRADulations CCM cd or a "How to Survive College as a Christian written by somebody who hasn't stepped foot on a secular college campus in 20 years", I give them Wishful Thinking. It's a book that I wished I had as a Freshman in college. I would have used it all the time. Heck, I love reading it now.

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yes, I have been a fan for years. I LOVED: Wishful Thinking; Beyond Words; Telling the Truth; Telling Secrets.

What I like is his wit combined with his insights and writing skills.

Denny

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I love Buechner. My favorite is probably The Sacred Journey. That's probably one of the most personal books I've read. It's also heavily influenced me.

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My favorite Buechner fiction is the four-volume Book of Bebb. It is a wonder.

Buechner spoke here at Calvin about two years ago, for the Festival of Faith and Writing. He seemed very tired, and a little sad. After he read from Godric, he paused and said, "Reading these stories again is like visiting with old, beloved friends." I started imagining a heaven in which Buechner would actually get to meet the fictitious characters who have come to him across the years. Frankly, I'd like to meet some of them, too.

We stood in line for hours after his talk to get a book signed by him. It's one of those collections of excerpts meant to be read daily, a real travesty to Buechner I'm sure, with his tales all chopped up and mixed together haphazardly. But it was the book that my husband and I fell in love over--he walked into the room holding a bowl of Cheerios and that book, and I had never met anyone else who knew about Buechner, and I realized I was done for. So it only seemed right.

Fred was very tan, and kind but distant, as you have to be when you're signing book after book for the billionth time. I wanted to tell him all that his writing has meant to me--that it's most of the reason I still call myself a Christian. But I'm sure everyone says that. So I just said, "Thank you."

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I'm a big Buechner fan as well. I'm probably most fond of his theological lexicons (Wishful Thinking, Whistling in the Dark), and find them eminently wise and quotable. But I also love his fiction. Godric is a favorite, but I'm particularly enthralled by the four volumes of the Book of Bebb. When I read them back when they were originally released in the 1970s, I thought they were gross caricatures of the most flamboyant and ridiculous form of evangelicalism. Then Pat and Jimmy and Jerry and Jim and Tammy Faye came along and proved Buechner prophetic.

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I actually know a small child who looks like the infant reincarnation of Leo Bebb from the books. I can't help but call him "Bebb" in my head whenever I see him. Such a serious child, with a bald head and big round eyes. He knows something, you can just tell.

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Long time F.B. reader here. I often quote a passage appropriate to the theme when I teach an adult Sunday School quarter. I mostly have connected with his non-fiction works. I know it will seem like a "bad thing" to admit, but Bebb didn't work for me, and I was unable to complete it. Did like Godric, but prefered Brendan. Wishful thinking is simply genius.

And the thing is, I would probably find myself disagreeing with him on many points of theology and culture. But I have decided that does not matter in the long run... I allow his glimpses behind the curtain to enrich my life and understanding.

B

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Godric is about as good as it gets, in my opinion. The first chapter alone...well, let's not get into flowery superlatives. It's simply an amazing story, an amazingly true story. And Telling the Truth has had a profound effect on my faith and on the way I live my life. Sometimes I feel like those books were written with me in mind.

Kebbie, it's interesting that you mentioned Bebb and then talked about the author's apparent weariness. One of the most painful, yet truthful aspects of his writing is the very real sense of world-weariness. Bebb was such a difficult book for me, but it's also an incredibly beautiful experience.

Thanks for posting, Jeffrey. It's very fulfilling to read how others respond to Beuchner.

Edited by Jeff Kolb

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I love Buechner, I've probably read four of his books, including Godric and Telling The Truth, (Son of Laughter is my favorite), but my wife is obsessed with Buechner. We own nearly everything he's written, and she's read it all. She has a hard time staying current and he's been writing a lot the past few years -- these are the only facts that save me at Christmas time and her birthdays. He has to have written at least twenty books -- and she must've read them all.

Jeffrey, you didn't see all of our Buechner collection when you were here?

-s.

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I wanted to tell him all that his writing has meant to me--that it's most of the reason I still call myself a Christian. But I'm sure everyone says that. So I just said, "Thank you."

FWIW...

This is the way I feel about Buechner, Manning, McLaren, Miller and... Leary. (Had to admit it)

Although the word "Christian" just sometimes feels too simplified...

-s.

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Although the word "Christian" just sometimes feels too simplified...

-s.

Stef,

I like that insight and have often considered other identity-terms. What do you find yourself thinking as a descriptor which more defines you?

Denny

Edited by Denny Wayman

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I love the way Donald Miller refers to having Christian Spirituality. To me it suggests a way of living rather than a choosing of sides. The word Christian just carries to much baggage with it for me to fully embrace the party itself. Christ I can embrace though, from the very idea and story of him to the reality of his life.

I love the notion of funneling my worldview through the lens of Christian Spirituality.

-s.

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Buechner is, quite simply, the best.

I would add my name to the "still a Christian because of FB" list. The four pages in the middle of The Alphabet of Grace when he explains why he believes make me weep just about every single time. And I almost never cry, let alone weep.

Anyone who calls himself a Christian and/or a writer would do well to learn from Buechner.

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I've got to read more of his fiction. I've read a couple of his memoirs as well as the novel The Final Beast. I gave Godric to my mom a couple of Christmases ago and she loved it... I keep suggesting FB titles to my book club. Hopefully they'll pick one soon.

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I've enjoyed many of the books listed here, but feel my introduction to his work is worth a mention. "On the Road with the Archangel" is still my favourite and after reading it I have never viewed bird poop the same way. And the scene where the giant fish was nestled in the oozing mud singing praises to God has long stuck with me.

Clive

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There's a terrific interview with Buechner on Mars Hill Audio, Volume 43 - such a wise, eloquent man. I've mainly read his fiction (Bebb and Son of Laughter); it sounds like I oughta give his theological meditations another try.

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Yesterday was Frederick Buechner day in Washington, as he made the rounds on the Left and the Right.

From the Left (NPR/Diane Rehm)

From the Right (Washington Times/Julia Duin)

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I've read Godric twice. I haven't done that with any book really except reference books, grammars and the word of God. Currently embarking on his other stuff. He's our modern clive staples.

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For those who were not able to attend Buechner's lecture at Washington National Cathedral, they have the audio and video of the tribute posted on their website, www.nationalcathedral.org. There is also a DVD version of the event available for sale through the Cathedral College.

This is a good string, definitely worthy of much more conversation. Favorite Buechner book?

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My favorite Buechner fiction is the four-volume Book of Bebb. It is a wonder.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

[snip] ... the book that my husband and I fell in love over--he walked into the room holding a bowl of Cheerios and that book, and I had never met anyone else who knew about Buechner, and I realized I was done for. So it only seemed right.

That is a fine romance story, and says a lot for both of you.

blessings,

jon

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Has anyone else heard about The Buechner Institute? I was confessing my newfound love of Buechner to a friend today, and he said "I wish I had known you liked Buechner. Two weeks ago, Andrew Peterson and I went to the inauguration of The Buechner Institute and were looking for others to go along." I can't believe I missed it! Buechner was there, and spoke and signed autographs. After he spoke, Mike Card, who introduced me to Buechner, gave a concert (his '94 album Poiema was inspired by Buechner's writings), with Andrew Peterson opening.

Here's the link again for the institute, and here's a write up at Christianity Today.

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Has anyone read Buechner's newest book, The Yellow Leaves: A Miscellany? It came out about a month ago, a couple weeks before his 82nd birthday. The format is similar to The Longing for Home, if you've read that. I've got a review up at the Rabbit Room.

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