Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Crazy, Holy Grace & The Remarkable Ordinary - Both by Frederick Buechner

The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life by [Buechner, Frederick]

About 'The Remarkable Ordinary:'

Your remarkable life is happening right here, right now. You may not be able to see it – your life may seem predictable and your work insignificant until you look at your life as Frederick Buechner does.
Based on a series of mostly unpublished lectures, Frederick Buechner reveals how to stop, look, and listen to your life. He reflects on how both art and faith teach us how to pay attention to the remarkableness right in front of us, to watch for the greatness in the ordinary, and to use our imaginations to see the greatness in others and love them well.
As you learn to listen to your life and what God is doing in it, you will uncover the plot of your life’s story and the sacred opportunity to connect with the Divine in each moment.

My Review:
I have mixed feelings about these books.  I liked 'The Remarkable Ordinary' more as he talked about really being present in each moment and appreciating beauty.  I loved his thought about truly seeing people and that we can see God in them, or I took him to mean that we're each made in the image of God.  He also talks about loving God and your neighbor and that we need to really pay attention to the ways that God's showing up in our lives.  We also need to love, look and listen to people and while it would be exhausting to do this all of the time, we can do better than we do, which I felt was a very good point.  The section about Maya Angelou was fascinating.  I also loved his point about our lives having a plot, that it's not just incident after incident but that there's a purpose and we're going somewhere.  Another point that hit me is that we don't know how much impact we're having on someone, for the good or bad, that you just don't know what can get through to someone.  I thought he had a lot of good points in this book.

About 'A Crazy, Holy Grace:'

When pain is real, why is God silent?
Frederick Buechner has grappled with the nature of pain, grief, and grace ever since his father committed suicide when Buechner was a young boy. He continued that search as a father when his daughter struggled with anorexia. In this essential collection of essays, including one never before published, Frederick Buechner finds that the God who might seem so silent is ever near. He writes about what it means to be a steward of our pain, and about this grace from God that seems arbitrary and yet draws us to his holiness and care. Finally he writes about the magic of memory and how it can close up the old wounds with the memories of past goodnesses and graces from God.
Here now are the best of Buechner’s writings on pain and loss, covering such topics as the power of hidden secrets, loss of a dearly beloved, letting go, resurrection from the ruins, peace, and listening for the quiet voice of God. And he reveals that pain and sorrow can be a treasure—an amazing grace.
Buechner says that loss will come to all of us, but he writes that we are not alone. Crazy and unreal as it may sometimes seem, God’s holy, healing grace is always present and available if we are still enough to receive it.

My Review:

In 'A Crazy, Holy Grace' sometimes I found his thoughts intriguing or an original way of thinking of something and other times he just seemed confused about God, Jesus and the afterlife.  He quotes Scripture so he's read at least part of the Bible but I don't know if he doesn't believe what it says about Heaven and Hell, doesn't want to believe it or views it as a metaphor.  Sometimes he seems hopeful and reminds us that God is there and we're not alone and other times he doubts and questions.  He mentions that Jesus was human and could have been wrong sometimes but was also more than human.  I would say Christians believe Jesus was also fully God while being fully human, so He wouldn't have gotten anything wrong.  There was also a longer section where he's imagining conversing with his dead grandmother and talking about what happens after you die and her "answers" don't sound at all like what the Bible says, including it sounding like everyone's there, which if she's talking about Heaven, that won't be the case.  It was a strange section.  He also mentions the god Ganesh and praying to him and using a Ouija board, which he mentioned he didn't like but not about the dangers of it.  I didn't like this book.

There was some overlap between the two books with him mentioning the same memories sometimes.  He also swore sometimes, which I didn't like.  Both were pretty easy reading as it just felt like he was talking to you over coffee.  I would recommend 'The Remarkable Ordinary' but not 'A Crazy, Holy Grace.'

I received these books from Handlebar in exchange for an honest review.

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