Beyond Words: A Review of Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith by Frederick Buechner

This is a slightly edited review of one I published in 2004 in Living Light News out of Edmonton, AB. I have blogged about Buechner before, and consider him an honourary Inkling who was influenced by C.S. Lewis.

I consider Frederick Buechner to be one of the great American writers of the 20th century.

For the first line of a review, that statement seems like a ridiculous overstatement. But it is not. His first novel, A Long Day’s Dying, was a bestseller. Since then, Buechner has written over 30 works of fiction and creative non-fiction, and has been honoured as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award—the most coveted nods of the literature world. Among his most critically acclaimed works are his Bebb fiction series, his novels Brendan and Godric, featuring ancient Celtic saints on their journeys of faith, and his published sermons in such works as The Magnificent Defeat and The Hungering Dark. More than awards and accolades and critical acclaim, though, Frederick Buechner simply writes good books.

And Beyond Words is a good book—three actually. In a dictionary of faith and life, Beyond Words brings together three of Buechner’s best-loved works: Wishful Thinking, Peculiar Treasures, and Whistling in the Dark. The result is 366 devotional entries that serve as a treasury of finding God in life—both in the spectacular and the mundane. From “Aaron” to “Zacchaeus,” from “Adolescence” to “Zero,” Buechner weaves tales of pilgrimage, heartbreak, leaps of faith, crushing doubt, and that curious joy that God brings to a person’s life.

Frederick Buechner is a master of modern literature, but he is also a good companion for the journey of life. Beyond Words is an excellent devotional piece that will provide the reader with a daily entry that is both thought provoking and faith provoking.

(Harper San Francisco, 432 pages, hardcover)

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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8 Responses to Beyond Words: A Review of Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith by Frederick Buechner

  1. Pingback: The Road Goes Ever On: An Inklings Sermon | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  2. Pingback: “Exegesis of the Soul” A Reflective Response to Frederick Buechner’s Memoirs | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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  8. Pingback: An Author Who Has Changed My Life, Frederick Buechner, Has Died (1926-2022) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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