Friday, August 24, 2007

Buechner's Call to Preachers

I've been reading Beuchner's book, Telling the Truth. I'd like to bring to you Buechner's call for those who preach the gospel...

With this fabulous tale to proclaim, the preacher is called in his turn to stand up in his pulpit as fabulist extrordinary, to tell the truth of the Gospel in its highest and wildest and holiest sense. This is his job, but more often than not he shrinks from it because the truth he is called to proclaim, like the fairy tale, seems in all but some kind of wistful, faraway sense too good to be true, and so the preacher as apologist instead of fabulist tries as best he can to pare it down to a size he thinks the world will swallow. Too good to be true implies a view of truth, of course.

And again,

Let the preacher...preach to us not just as men and women of the world but as children too, who are often much more simple-hearted than he supposes, and much hungrier for, and ready to believe in, and already in contact with, more magic and mystery than most of the time even we are entirely aware of ourselves...Let the preacher stretch our imagination and strain our credulity and make our jaws drop...

And finally,

Let the preacher tell the truth. Let him make audible the silence of the news of the world with the sound turned off so that in that silence we can hear the tragic truth of the Gospel, which is that the world where God is absent is a dark and echoing emptiness; and the comic truth of the gospel which is that it is into the depths of his absence that God makes himself present in such unlikely ways and I laugh till the tears run down our cheeks. And finally let him preach this overwhelming of tragedy by comedy, of darkness by light, of the ordinary by the extraordinary, as the tale that is too good not to be true because to dismiss it as untrue is to dismiss along with it that catch of the breath, that beat and lifting of the heart near to, or even accompanied by, tears, which I believe is the deepest intuition of truth that we have.

Buechner, Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairytale, 91, 97, 98.