I got this book because Russel Moore listed it as one of seven books that changed his life. See HERE, where Moore writes briefly about each of the seven books. In addition, this is another article by Moore about Buechner: Why You Should Read Frederick Buechner.
I’ll be honest that this book did not “wow” me as it did Moore. Yet the essays are definitely well written, providing spiritual insight into everyday life events as well as thoughtful reflection on biblical passages. While it is a distinctly Christian book, it is not “preachy.” In fact, I think an unbeliever could appreciate the book without feeling proselytized, yet still be exposed to some Christian thought, and perhaps be surprised by it. The second article I linked to above, said this about Buechner:
“Buechner doesn’t fit the standard categories. Perhaps that’s why Buechner has been able to speak to so many of us from so many different theological and experiential tribes.”
I photocopied the chapter on the Incarnation (chapter 6, “Emmanuel”) to keep in my files because I found it so good. This is an overtly theological essay, and in the intro he says it was rejected for publishing for that very reason by the magazine that solicited him to write it. I’m glad it ended up in this book! The chapter begins:
“‘For we preach Christ crucified,’ the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, ‘a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.’ He could as well have written ‘We preach Christ born’ or ‘We preach Christmas’ because the birth presents no fewer problems than the death does both to religious people – ‘the Jews’ – and to everybody else – ‘the Gentiles.’ Christmas is not just Mr. Pickwick dancing a reel with the old lady at Dingley Dell or Scrooge waking up the next morning a changed man. It is not just the most famous birthday of them all and not just the annual reaffirmation of Peace on Earth that it is so often reduced to so that people of many faiths or no faith can exchange Christmas cards without a qualm. On the contrary, if you do not hear in the message of Christmas something that must strike some as blasphemy and others as sheer fantasy, the chances are you have not heard the message for what it is. Emmanuel is the message in a nutshell, which is Hebrew for ‘God with us.’ Who is this God? How is he with us? That’s where the problem lies.” (page 57)
During this time of uncertainty in our nation and world, these essays may be encouraging to you, pointing you to greater spiritual realities. Some of the essay titles are: Faith, Hope, Love, The Things that Make for Peace, Deliverance, and The Road Goes On.
If you’d like this paperback book, leave a comment. The good news is that usually only 2 to 4 people enter my book giveaways so you have a high chance of winning it!
— OPEN TO THOSE in the USA only, due to postage costs. —