Frederick Buechner on History

Frederick Buechner on History September 20, 2017

Frederick Buechner is among my favorite 20th century preachers and spiritual writers. The man has a way with words that few people (let alone clergy) possess. I cam across this quote from him earlier today and wanted to share it.


Unlike Buddhism or Hinduism, biblical faith takes history very seriously because God takes it very seriously. He took it seriously enough to begin it and to enter it and to promise that one day he will bring it to a serious close. The biblical view is that history is not an absurdity to be endured or an illusion to be dispelled or an endlessly repeating cycle to be escaped. Instead it is for each of us a series of crucial, precious, and unrepeatable moments that are seeking to lead us somewhere.

The true history of mankind and the true history of each individual man has less to do than we tend to think with the kind of information that gets into most histories, biographies, and autobiographies. True history has to do with the saving and losing of souls, and both of these are apt to take place when most people including the one whose soul is at stake are looking the other way. The real turning point in a man’s life is less likely to be the day he wins the election or marries the girl than the morning he decides not to mail the letter or the afternoon he watches the woods fill up with snow. The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls than the day a boy is born to a couple of hick Jews.

Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith, pp. 155-56

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