Saturday, March 1, 2008

Despair and Hope

are all books based on these two things? these days, it seems like it to me.

warning-- spoiler alert

My last enjoyable reading post featured a book, which talked a bit about these concepts as it explored a Jesuit's involvement in a play about Judas Iscariot ----- the idea of hell as being in such despair that one can not accept the loving forgiveness of Jesus. Today, we turn to one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner.

I have read novels, memoirs, and theology by this man. Buechner believes in the power of telling one's story and the despair when stories are not allowed to be told. His childhood experience is no secret to those, who like me have read his nonfiction. Nine weeks ago today, I picked up a small novel (long story) by Buechner at the library. Renewed twice, it has to go back today, so that inspired me to read it this week.

The Wizard's Tide tells the story in a boy's voice, and as things progressed I began to wonder if this was turning into a story based on the author's life. By the end I was more certain in that belief, and a web search confirmed it, and also that it has been renamed to the Christmas Tide.

Buechner's dad fell into a great despair during the great depression and what occurred was a story not to be mentioned. The book ends a month later in a bedroom where the boy and his younger sister talk about a rare trip to a church service which had happened that night, Christmas Eve. And knowing this man's life from his words, the spark of hope carried him through till he got old enough to realize that emotional, physical, and spiritual health often comes from unlocking our secrets.

This I find to be a great truth.


  1. Haven't gotten into any of Buechner's fiction. My escapes into that sort of literature has been confined mostly to Mandino and Potok. I have bought several of his sermon books, though, loaned them out, and then rebought them again. He's a great read...

  2. hey Jim-- if you have a chance, pick up whatever you can by the man.


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