Wishful Thinking: A theological ABC

Wishful Thinking: A theological ABC, by Frederick Buechner

Drool Warning: I love Buechner. When I was in seminary and interviewing for my first pastor job the pastor interviewing me asked me what I was reading in seminary, and I admitted I was reading books not recommended by the professors!  The pastor-interviewer asked me, “Who?” and I said “Frederick Buechner.”  “That’s my favorite author!” he exclaimed. And we talked about Buechner the rest of the interview. Got the job too.

Wishful Thinking was the first of Buechner’s work I ever read, and I think it’s one of his best.  He goes through an ABC of theological words and ideas, and describes each one with between one to six paragraphs. Each one is a sermon quote waiting to be snatched, a excerpt to post in the newsletter. Buechner shakes the DUST off of our theological ideas and looks at them in a new way. He makes them understandable and personal. His style is infected with graciousness and profound insight.

This book was RETITLED a “Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC”  …and that’s ok. Some have called it a “dictionary” of theological terms… but that makes it sound boring, and its everything but. This is the kind of book you’ll find yourself quoting to your spouse as you’re reading it. It’s good devotional reading too. Some have compared this book and Buechner’s work on the level of CS Lewis. I think Fred is better -because he’s more modern and has a gentler soul.

Buechner is a Presbyterian minister, but don’t hold that against him. He’s as close as my denomination has to a “writing monk.”  He’s our Thomas Merton, but with a sense of humor as well as insight. Buechner’s style if to set you up with humor and clever word-smithing in order to deliver his knock-out insights.

See my other Buechner recommendations in this blog.

Buechner followed up “Wishful Thinking” with another similar book titled “Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized.”  I could have been titled, “Wishful Thinking Part II” and is very good in its own right.
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Here are the links to the books on Christianbooks.com at a great price…

61139: Wishful Thinking: A Theological Lexicon Wishful Thinking: A Theological Lexicon
By Frederick Buechner / HarperOneIn Wishful Thinking the first book in his much-loved lexical trilogy, Frederick Buechner puts the language of God, the universe, and the human spirit under his wry linguistic microscope. In this often ironic and always keen-sighted reflections on such terms as agnostic, envy, love, and sin, he invites us to look at these everyday words in new and enlightening ways. Freshly revised and expanded for this edition, Wishful Thinking is a “beguiling” [Time] adventure in language for the restless believer, the doubter, and all who love words.
61140: Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter"s Dictionary Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary
By Frederick Buechner / HarperSanFranciscoThis mini-dictionary, written with vintage Buechner wit and insight, is a guide to everyday words and everyday living. ”Faith is a kind of whistling in the dark, it seems to me, and these somewhat antic and most undefinitive definitions are in a way the same thing—an attempt to keep the spirits up while peering through the shadows for some glimmer of Meaning.” You’ll find his uncommon insights will both jar your mind and nourish your soul. 160 pages, softcover from HarperCollins.
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