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Hardcover Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale Book

ISBN: 0060611561

ISBN13: 9780060611569

Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

A fresh, creative look at the underlying meaning of the Gospels that stresses the many dimensions of God's relationship to humanity.


Format: Hardcover

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When I took a class in "Christian Mythopoeic authors" I had to give a presentation on an author not discussed in the class. I presented on Frederick Buechner. My focus was on his novel, On the Road with the Archangel. While preparing for this, I found myself reading seven of his other books. Once I picked him up, it was hard to put him down. One of the books that I read was Telling the Truth. I have recently had the pleasure of re-reading it. Buechner is a shameless recycler of themes and material (King Lear references are found almost everywhere in his writings). Most of his books don't even break one hundred pages. Still, I'd rather sort through Buechner's recyclables than the seven course meals of a lot of other writers. Telling the Truth is the printed form of lectures Buechner gave on what it means to preach the gospel. He argues that the gospel must be presented in terms of tragedy, comedy, and fairy tale.The gospel is tragedy because life can be exceedingly dark. We spend so much time trying to pretend, and sometimes believing that everything is fine and dandy. Yet sin is real and it causes death. We all live under the horror of a death sentence that will not be commuted. We live in the valley of the shadow of death. To try and deny this is not to preach but to play games. Too many Christ-followers try to skip over this integral part of life. The picture Buechner paints of Jesus' silence before Pilate is jarring. It makes me uncomfortable. It must have freaked Pilate out too. This silence and the silence before the preacher speaks are the personification of what the tragedy of the Gospel is. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wage of this "missing of the mark" is death.The Gospel is comedy because God's provision for those who are his enemies is beyond the pale. It is in this hour of death--in the hour of our just execution--that God comes and gives us a life beyond all of our dreams and expectations. The picture of Sarah's laughter at God's promise is the picture of our reaction when we first truly encounter the Gospel. A woman giving birth as she enters her second century of life looks easy compared to a God that we have slandered, rebelled against, ignored and even crucified loving us and redeeming us.It is the hyper-reality of this comedy that makes the Gospel a fairy tale. We live in the drudgery of our everyday "real" lives. Yet the Gospel is more real than any of the fleeting, fading images that pass for our reality.Buechner uses the picture of the Great Oz to convey the fairy-tale aspect of the Gospel. Just as Oz turns out to be a little old man behind a curtain, so the preacher's proclaiming of the wonder of the Kingdom looks insignificant, a lot of the time ridiculous, compared to the truth they bear. The fairy tale of the Gospel is that all us, though seemingly frail and cowering behind the curtain of our lives, turn out to have power through Christ. The things we say and do while carrying the Gospel d

A Ground-Shaking Work

A riveting, explosive, whimsical, masterfully-written philosophy of preaching. This book is not just for the preacher, but also every Christian who, with the commission of Christ, is to tell the Story. Yet on the other hand, this book shakes the antics out of the would-be preacher and tells him what he should be in the end picture. Buechner's command of language and literature will leave your head spinning with bedazzlement and great profundity. It is but a short 98-page read, but it's a punch that you might not have been expecting! Read it now!

A Must Read ... and Re-Read

Frederick Buechner's 'Telling the Truth' is one of those little books, so packed with great things, it needs repeated reading. Not that it is difficult to read, it is just full of huge ideas and grand truth.Buechner revisits various aspects of the gospel. But his first challenge to the reader is to confront the silence of truth. Using as an example the silence of Jesus in response to Pilate's question "What is truth?", Buechner suggests truth may not be far from the ordinariness of our everyday lives - if only we would pause to realise.'Telling the Truth' uses the recurring picture of a preacher getting up to preach. Buechner describes in detail the scene in the church, the congregation who have come to the church for so many different reasons and the inadequacies the preacher feels but, as the preacher lays out his notes "like a riverboat gambler, the stakes have never been higher."'Telling the Truth' considers the gospel as "tragedy, comedy and fairy tale" in turn and ultimately Buechner finds the gospel "a tale that is too good not to be true." If you only read one book each year, make it 'Telling the Truth' this year - and next year.

A Compelling Read

I have read this book 3 times in as many months, and I will be reading it again. The first time I read it, I was swept away emotionally and ended it feeling totally wrung out, yet still uplifted. The second time I began to understand the meaning. The third time I was able to integrate emotion and thought, and I finally grasp what he means by (1) the truth being found in silence, (2) tragedy as an inevitable part of life, when God seems absent and the world is dark and empty, (3) comedy as the unexpected event, God making himself present in unlikely and unanticipated ways, (4) the fairy tale, too good to be true, where good overcomes evil, light overtakes darkness, and people are transformed; but in the gospel it really is true--and here is joy, but a joy accompanied by tears. Still there is more to be learned. This book is absolutely a masterpiece of interwoven themes and images, thoughts and emotions, reality and imagination, literature and life.

<p>The only book of its kind, I've ever read more than once

"The preacher climbs the stairs to the pulpit and pulls the chain, turning on the light. He deals out his note cards like a riverboat gambler. The stakes have never been higher." An excellent book on preaching the gospel. Beuchner presents Pilate, Abraham and Sarah, and others as if they were living today. Tremendous insights. It is the only book of its kind I've ever read more than once. I've read this one five times.
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