Tag Archives: Buechner

You cannot become human on your own.

Frederick Buechner, in his memoir of his early years, The Sacred Journey, writes of when he, his mother, and his younger brother moved from New York to Bermuda after his father committed suicide. They wanted to escape for a while, while their paternal grandmother thought they should “stay and face reality”.

…when it comes to putting broken lives back together–when it comes, in religious terms, to the saving of souls–the human best tends to be at odds with the holy best. To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do–to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst–is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from. You can survive on your own. You can grow strong on your own. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own. (46)

On Vocation

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” and in the end every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is the same word, and the word is Christ himself. And in the end that is the vocation, the calling of all of us, the calling to be Christs. To be Christs in whatever way we are able to be. To be Christs in whatever gladness we have and in whatever place, among whatever brothers we are called to. That is the vocation, the destiny to which we were all of us called even before the foundations of the world.

— Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

Jesus the jokester

[Jesus] speaks in parables, and though we have approached these parables reverentially all these many years and have heard them expounded as grave and reverent vehicles of holy truth, I suspect that many if not all of them were originally not grave at all but were antic, comic, often more than just a little shocking.  I suspect that Jesus spoke many of his parables as a kind of sad and holy joke and that may be part of why he seemed reluctant to explain them because if you have to explain a joke, you might as well save your breath.  (Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale, p. 63)

If that’s too unsettling for some of you, as I imagine it might be, he carries on: Continue reading