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The Sacred Journey

by Frederick Buechner

A child takes life as it comes because he has no oth­er way of tak­ing it,” Fred­er­ick Buech­n­er writes in this first of his auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal books. With this state­ment he attempts to explore the event that is at the cen­ter of this book, and which forms the (miss­ing) cen­ter around which so much of Buech­n­er’s fic­tion and essays take shape: the sui­cide of his father when he was 10 and his broth­er 8.

As with much of Buech­n­er’s work, there is a move­ment in this nar­ra­tive from suf­fer­ing to grace, a grace that comes in unex­pect­ed ways and places. Here it comes through the preach­er George But­trick on a Sun­day ser­mon: Jesus refused Satan’s crown, But­trick said, but he is crowned in the heart of the peo­ple who believe in him. And that inward coro­na­tion takes place … among con­fes­sion, and tears, and great laugh­ter.’ ” It was when he heard this final state­ment, Buech­n­er writes, that some­thing turned over for him, and led him to speak to But­trick and ulti­mate­ly led him – dri­ven lit­er­al­ly by But­trick – to Union The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. Here in this beau­ti­ful book this soul-chang­ing jour­ney across Man­hat­tan stands for the sacred jour­ney” of a life – and of all of our lives. Whether it ends in truth or dream we can­not know, but Buech­n­er sides with King Rinkitink of Oz who says, Nev­er ques­tion the truth of what you fail to under­stand, for the world is filled with won­ders.” –Doug Thor­pe

1991

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