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Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  550 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Spiritual and autobiographical reflections on the author's seminary days, early ministry, and writing career.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 11th 1991 by HarperOne (first published 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,023)
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Jul 12, 2009 Sandra rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, poetic. This passage sums it up. . .

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."

May 22, 2011 Melanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Of the three memoirs that Buechner wrote, this was probably my least favorite. I can’t bring myself to give this book less than 4 star. There are some hidden wisdom-gems that spoke especially to my life right now. Buechner writes of his middle life and college teaching career. He compares and contrasts Christianity to Buddhism and it is in those pages that I leaned the most from this book. He explains that the two religions are based around the same fundamental principal, love, but the ultimate ...more
Sumangali Morhall
Oct 25, 2015 Sumangali Morhall rated it it was amazing
Now and Then is the second in a trilogy of short memoirs by Buechner, along with The Sacred Journey and Telling Secrets. This is my favourite of the three, though I enjoyed them all. It covers the author’s rather shambling journey to seminary, and a gradual growing into life as a Christian minister. I love the stark realism in the stories, and his broad-minded approach to religion. His melancholy, self-deprecating honesty is utterly endearing, and the writing is sublime. His views on writing its ...more
James Klagge
Jun 24, 2015 James Klagge rated it really liked it
The middle one in a series of memoirs, running from entering seminary in his late 20's, till his 50's. Reflections on finding holiness in the every-day: as he quotes Tillich (with whom he studied at Union): here and there even in our world, and now and then even in ourselves, we catch glimpses of a New Creation.
While in seminary he worked in East Harlem doing something approximating to community development work--or at least he was involved with and impressed by those who did. This led to a nee
Aug 03, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it
As I've said before, one of the ways I chart whether or not a book is good is if it makes me want to write.

I very much wanted to write while reading this.

I kind of came in mid-stream, as this is part of a larger series of Buechner's autobiographies. This was loaned me by a friend, so I didn't know much about it until I sat down and started reading it. I was not, at first, impressed, as the foreword and the second edition introduction were both very self-conscious and humble and felt rather like
Mar 13, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it
Frederick Buechner grew up agnostic, as a man of the world, and then, in his mid-20s, after being mysteriously moved at a church he had just wandered into, gave up his current life in favor of conversion to Christianity. He had already published his first novel. Rather than focus on a follow-up, he entered Union Theological Seminary to become a minister.

This book, Now and Then, picks up at this point, right where the first half of his autobiography, The Sacred Journey, left off. It follows his m
Alex Stroshine
Feb 02, 2015 Alex Stroshine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-regent
This brief book records Frederick Buechner's life from his time at Union Theological Seminary to his vocation as a writer in Vermont. It is divided into three sections, places that left a deep imprint upon Buechner - New York, Exeter and Vermont. The most engrossing section for me was the first, as Buechner discusses his days in seminary and his professors, among whom included luminaries of liberal Christianity, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. I feel a certain kindred spirit with Buechner as ...more
Eric Black
Nov 02, 2015 Eric Black rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
As I was promised, Buechner's writing is full of quotables and "mullables."

This second of three memoirs tells of his journey from writer to seminarian to minister to writer again.

I plan to use this memoir as a textbook for new seminarians just beginning their foray into vocational ministry and who may be asking some of the same questions Buechner asked of himself, of his life, and of God.

Now and Then is an easy and quick read. Here and there, to borrow a phrase, he gives background to several of
Scott Harris
Aug 02, 2011 Scott Harris rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for people who feel overwhelmed by the sense that God might be calling them to something more. It is a refreshing account that can speak to those who are confused, inadequate, undecided and hesitant. This is the second in Buechner's trilogy of autobiographical writings, capturing the bulk of his adult life. In his typical style, it is well written and easy to read. His candor is however the true joy. It reveals the inner thoughts, fears and insecurities of his journey to ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Bryan rated it it was amazing
This was the first book I ever read by Buechner, although I started reading Godric half a dozen years ago and stalled after a relatively short time. But I found the autobiographical "Now and Then" fascinating and simply a pleasure to read.

I found the period of history he dealt with very interesting (the 1950's to the 1970's) because that was my own life from birth to adulthood but was Buchner's life from early adulthood to middle age and he provides some valuable insights regarding the intellec
Kim Buchanan
Feb 05, 2013 Kim Buchanan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual-memoir
The second in Buechner's four-volume autobiography. This one covers his seminary years, his nine years of teaching at Exeter (establishing the religion department there), and settling into the writing life in Vermont (where he still lives).

This book hangs together better, feels more focused than the first volume, "The Sacred Journey." But isn't that the way of things? As a child, we take experiences as they come to us. Because we haven't lived much of life, we're unable to distinguish the really
Jun 24, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
I read the third of Buechner's autobiographical trilogy as an assignment for a course when I was an undergraduate. 14 years later, I have now read the other two books in the set. I remember being quite moved by Telling Secrets, but this book was my favorite of the three. He has a beautiful way of finding the narrative and the grace in the people, settings, and events of his life, which I found very instructive. In this book, he also tells how the other books that he has written grew out of the d ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Buechner's Now and Then: a memoir of vocation, was an evocative autobiography and a good book for where I'm at right now. Buechner writes from the point of view of a man in his fifties looking back over the choices of his life and searching to find the role of God in and through his life. The little details, as they do in biographies, fade away and in the narrative that is left often there are revelations to be seen. Though not providing a clear explanation of the obvious meaning of his life in ...more
Gary B
Dec 19, 2015 Gary B rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Not quite as engaging as his first autobiography, Sacred Journey. Buechner, as the title indicates, focuses on his vocations from his late twenties to his early fifties. It covers his time at Union, through Exeter and ends in Vermont.

I found his description of his meetings with the old woman to be deeply moving (pages 89 to 92 in the HarperOne edition I have) - particularly his expectation to feel awkward and inadequate, and bored.
Feb 08, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: church
Some great stuff in this book about living our daily lives and the perspective that we should have when we look back at things. Most of this book centers around Buechner's decision to return to seminary and his teaching job that followed from it.
Sarah Weisiger
Feb 06, 2014 Sarah Weisiger rated it liked it
Some good quotes in here… I think I might appreciate this book more if I had more history reading Buechner's other work, given that this is a memoir about the work he has endeavored in through his career up until the early 80s.
Sep 22, 2014 Josiah rated it really liked it
This had some really great parts to it. Especially at the beginning. Maybe because I related more to his young, confused, student/teacher phase of life than to his less-young, less-confused writer/minister phase. Either way, some great poignant moments by Mr. Buechner.
Stephen Ranney
Jun 13, 2015 Stephen Ranney rated it it was amazing
I am re-reading various Buechner books that I read a long time ago. He helped me survive inside the establishment, you might say.
Jul 31, 2016 Columba added it
Shelves: adult
Treasures of the library is reading it. cath.
Pat Loughery
Jun 30, 2014 Pat Loughery rated it it was amazing
One of Frederick Buechner's memoirs, Now and Then is an honest look at his various intermingled vocations of minister and writer. If you've read other Buechner, whether fiction or nonfiction, you'll enjoy this story from behind the scenes. If not, you'll also enjoy a good memoir from a kind and creative soul.

Of particular interest are Buechner's comparisons of love in Christianity and Buddhism; and Buechner's interaction with Agnes Sanford, one of the wonderful lay leaders of healing prayer in t
James Prothero
May 26, 2014 James Prothero rated it it was amazing
I'm finding I love Buechner and the fabric of his thought. A good book to feed on.
Amber rated it really liked it
Sep 29, 2014
Jash Comstock
Jan 27, 2014 Jash Comstock rated it it was amazing
Buechner is my favorite Christian author, and this book does not disappoint!
Feb 13, 2014 Taryn rated it really liked it
The second in his autobiographical series, I found this one much more explanatory about the man, Frederick Buechner. He spoke in detail about the balance between his minister-self and writer-self, and I enjoyed finding out about the events and emotions that precipitated his novels. At one point he described his books as "too religious for secular audiences and too secular for religious ones"... but I for one, find the mixture extremely authentic.
I'm giving this three-star book four stars simply because of a handful of gems that were absolutely right for me at this particular time. His reflections on spirituality and on writing are fascinating and, for the most part, honest. I'm curious to know what redolence this book will leave with me as it recedes into the past--how I will think of it, if at all, a year from now.
Matthew Redmond
Jan 27, 2014 Matthew Redmond rated it it was amazing
No one writes like Buechner. No one.
Oct 21, 2010 Elisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Lots of insight. His description of a parent's love for a child and the pain that it can cause has come the closest to what I have felt in the past. He quotes Paul Tillich and Karl Barth. He writes of life being grace. "Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit" - God will be with you whether you call on him or not.
I enjoyed this book because I could relate to a lot of it, especially the beginning when Buechner describes how he ended up at seminary, just wanting to see where it led him. I also really liked this quote and reminder to find joy in the small things: "Listen to your life. All moments are key moments."
Justin Pitt
Aug 05, 2013 Justin Pitt rated it really liked it
Buechner writes that he's too secular for a religious audience and too religious for a secular audience. That's a shame, because the man can write. What's more, this book sheds a little light on the how and why he writes, and that is cherry on top of this fine little book.
Apr 02, 2011 Donovan rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality, memoirs
Finished the book today and enjoyed it. I personally found "The Sacred Journey" more impactful, but this one was insighful and it gave great context to all of the books Buechner had written up to that point - that alone was worth it for me.
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Frederick Buechner is a highly influential writer and theologian who has won awards for his poetry, short stories, novels and theological writings. His work pioneered the genre of spiritual memoir, laying the groundwork for writers such as Anne Lamott, Rob Bell and Lauren Winner.

His first book, A Long Day's Dying, was published to acclaim just two years after he graduated from Princeton. He entere
More about Frederick Buechner...

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“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 296 likes
“Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.” 24 likes
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