The Remarkable Ordinary
by Frederick Buechner
Art and music as gateways to God—an interesting thought Frederick Buechner uses as the basis of his first chapter in The Remarkable Ordinary. That beginning was a little slow to take hold on me, and it didn’t really continue on as a predominant theme in the book. In fact, the book continues forward in three parts with a total of eight chapters. As I read, I felt like I was examining Buechner’s mind, his thought processes, his memories, and most importantly his search for God in the ordinary things of life. When he began a relationship with Christ, he was “all in.” Not content to read the Bible through as a first step, he wanted to jump right into seminary. He eventually decided that his training in the ministry and his skills would be best used as a writer rather than as a pastor. He never used the term philosopher, but that is what I see him as. The Remarkable Ordinary is part philosophical treatise and part memoir. He delves into therapy sessions, dreams, and family history that helped form his character and beliefs.
Buechner is honest and introspective, and the book is a product of his soul searching. Each chapter is a collection of his thoughts on various themes. He reflects on holiness, our personal journeys, our efforts at controlling others, and the wars we wage with ourselves and those around us. He shows facets of God to us as he examines the arts, other people, the ordinary things around us, and our stories, dreams and memories. He ties all of these parts of the “remarkable ordinary” into our need to “stop, look, and listen to life.”
I actually read much of the book twice in an effort to understand Buechner’s views. It is different from other books I have read by religious leaders. Buechner is very open about his beliefs and his past and yet, probably rightly, he did not reveal all as he continued to clarify his thoughts. Some things are too personal to share with the world. Frederick Buechner passed away on August 15. 2022, leaving behind a legacy of 39 works of fiction and nonfiction in several genres written over a span of 60 years.
Category: Nonfiction, Christian
Publication: October 3, 2017—Zondervan
It seems to me almost before the Bible says anything else, it is saying that—how important it is to be alive and to pay attention to being alive, pay attention to each other, pay attention to God as he moves and as he speaks. Pay attention to where life or God has tried to take you.
We’ve all had saints in our lives, by which I mean not plaster saints, not moral exemplars, not people setting for us a sort of suffocating good example, but I mean saints in the sense of life-givers, people through knowing whom we become more alive.
I was so motivated because I was at that point so on fire with, I can only say, Christ. I was to the point where when I would see his name on a page, it was like seeing the face of somebody you loved, and my heart would beat faster. I had to find out more about him.
I certainly am always at war one way or another with myself, and some of them are wars I must fight to try to slay the demons, to kill the dragon, to lay the ghost to rest. But there are other wars you fight with yourself that are really not worth fighting at all. The war to make yourself be more, do more than you have it in you really to do or to be.
What an interesting book. I like to read about other people’s thoughts.
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Well, he has plenty of them!🤔😂
I immediately thought of Romans 1:20 when I read this post, “For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.”
I think this is what the author was conveying, but in his own words. However, the Bible tells us this. When we look around at creation we can’t deny the existence of God. 😊
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Yes, you, Buechner, I, and …most importantly God are in agreement on creation pointing us to the Creator! Thanks for tying that in with the verse in Romans.
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I love this type of book – where the author shares the ways he had seen God in the ordinary things. It always enlarges my capacity to see God in the ordinary things too. We could all benefit from slowing down, looking and listening.
I agree. In 2023, my book club will also be reading The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Warren Harrison. It will be interesting to compare the two books.