Vale, Frederick Buechner

Vale, Frederick Buechner

The influential theologian and author Rev. Frederick Buechner passed away on 15 August at the age of 96.

An ordained Presbyterian minister, he was also the author of nearly 40 books.

Born in New York City on 11 July, 1926, Buechner (pronounced Beek-ner) began his first novel, A Long Day’s Dying, as part of his undergraduate thesis at Princeton University. It was published by Knopf in 1950.

Rev. Buechner’s writing spanned fiction, autobiography, theology, essays, and sermons. He attended Union Theological Seminary, and was ordained in 1958.

Rev. Buechner’s 1980 novel Godric was a retelling of the life of the twelfth century English hermit Godric of Finchale, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Lion Country was the first instalment in his series centered on the fictional clergyman Leo Bebb, and a finalist for the National Book Award.

Mr. Buechner explored Christian theology in his widely acclaimed memoirs, including “The Sacred Journey”, “Now and Then”, “Telling Secrets”, and “The Eyes of the Heart”.

His memoires explored a number of key moments from his life, including the death of his father when Mr. Buechner was 10 and the comforting presence of his grandmother, seeking spiritual meaning in his experiences.

In a statement, Michael Maudlin, senior VP, Executive Editor at HarperOne, said that Rev. Buechner was, “a unique figure, a literary figure.” He added that Rev. Buechner, “confounded everybody by becoming ordained as a Presbyterian minister while continuing to publish in multiple genres. His books are on many leaders’ shelves of ‘most influential.’”

Quoting Buechner’s 1983 memoir Now and Then, Maudlin says: “Despite the diversity of means, all his books shared his overriding mission: ‘Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.’”

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