In Memoriam: Frederick Buechner

(JUL. 11, 1926 – AUG. 15, 2022)

This world has lost a giant. A giant of writing, a giant of speaking, a giant of faith. Frederick Buechner was a teacher and a preacher, a memoirist and a novelist, a wit and an intellectual, a man of God and what Mark Heard might have called a “profane saint”. There isn’t enough room here to list all his honors, never mind his prolific written output. (You can read his Wikipedia page for that.) It’s enough for me to say that his writing changed my life. I’ve never read anyone who was more honest, more challenging, more comforting, and more eloquent while doing all that.

Pulitzer prize winner Annie Dillard called him “one of our finest writers.” She’s absolutely right, but that’s just part of the story. His authenticity about his struggles with life and faith and God set him apart from other writers, thinkers, and theologians. He was a modern-day Jacob, wrestling with God but sharing the experience with anyone who was wise enough to listen.

The great thing about the written word is that it survives long after the scribe is gone. Mr. Buechner’s words were no “scribbling in the sand.” They will be set in stone and read by many for as long as time endures because we will always need them. I commend those words to everyone’s attention.

I trust that upon his passing, he heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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