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Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

4.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  612 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Frederick Buechner has long been a kindred spirit to those who find elements of doubt as constant companions on their journey of faith. He is a passionate writer and preacher who can alter lives with a simple phrase.

Buechner's words, both written and spoken, have the power to revolutionize and revitalize belief and faith. He reveals the presence of God in the midst of dail
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by HarperOne (first published February 28th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,465)
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Aug 12, 2008 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
This collection of Frederick Buechner's sermons is a great introduction to anyone who has not yet read anything by this national treasure. He is a magical writer who gets to the heart of our longing and need for our true home.
Dec 30, 2009 Joy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone needing inspiration or wanting to be a better preacher.
Recommended to Joy by: No one
Finally finished this last night. I think if more ministers preached like Frederick Buechner, more people might consider going to church. What makes his sermons so moving is the acceptance of human beings as flawed creatures who are doing what they can to stumble towards the eternal. In many of his sermons he addresses doubt as a normal part of spirituality and he is able to be clear about the differences between religion and faith. He himself also comes through his sermons as one of the flawed, ...more
Apr 01, 2013 Yvonne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: seekers
Recommended to Yvonne by: found it when looking for Buechner titles
Frederich Buechner has a blessed gift for choosing words and turning phrases, and for telling the human story of a spiritual being.


in principio Greek
bereshith Hebrew
Before anything yet had been made that was to be made, before whatever it was that happened to make it possible for Being to happen. You can’t speak literally about such things, of course, but we assume that he is speaking as seriously as physicists also speak seriously about the possibility at least of a
Dec 24, 2011 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: essaysjournalism, god
There is much to like here, although I admit the first few sermons after the first, which is quite good, were actually pretty disappointing. I nearly put the book down. The second half -- I suppose as he gets older -- gets much, much better. The style is similar -- anecdotal, lyrical as you'd expect from a novelist, thoughtful -- so it is not a matter of change in style; rather the first few chapters just seemed simplistic, too much of a leap of faith and not terribly realistic if well-intention ...more
Dec 12, 2015 Pat rated it it was amazing
In the sermon "The Calling of Voices", Buechner refers to the scripture Isaiah 6:1-9.
This sermon was based from that scripture along with a verse in Matthew.

"Where we most need to go. Maybe that means that the voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us gladdest, what can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north and of peace,
Mar 15, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it
Buechner is so clear, thoughtful and eloquent. I remember trying to read him in high school and getting nowhere. I think I just had to grow up a bit. He's so wise and smart and yet so clearly full of heart and soul as he describes his encounters with Jesus. . . .. I'm going on a Buechner-bender at the moment as I have 4 book by him checked out from the library. He's feeding my soul.
Jonathan Crabb
Apr 10, 2016 Jonathan Crabb rated it it was amazing
This book took me a long time to finish, but this is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a collection of sermons which may not be for everyone, but they spoke deeply to me.

It sits on top of my list of the books that you would give away if you had 100 copies. I keep waiting for a sale on the paperback so I can start passing them out.
Sarah Eisele
Mar 21, 2008 Sarah Eisele rated it it was amazing
I read this here and there. Buechner is a Pulitzer-Prize nominated (runner up for Godric) author who I adore. He's a thoughtful, honest, "authentic" Christian author and preacher. I love his books and his sermons.
Jul 19, 2014 Charis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
Frederick Buechner has the unique ability to speak newness and wisdom into the spiritual truths we have known for so long but still fail to grasp. His storytelling ability and graceful prose is unlike any preacher or Christian inpsiration author I have ever found. He renews the passion in the seeking, and the fundamental truth that Jesus died for me.

Some of his best:
"If we forget that we are waiting, if we come to believe that the best we have found of God here in these shadows is the best the
David Hardin
has it's points

Amazing storyteller and something inspirational in each sermon, but exegetically speaking it is lacking. Probably represents fine preaching from a mainline perspective, but falls short from an evangelical perspective.
Mar 31, 2015 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Buechner has long been one of my favorite authors. This is a compilation of sermons and other short pieces from throughout his career and is a very good way to get a glimpse of his excellent rhetorical skills.
Philip Ryan
Feb 19, 2014 Philip Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading his sermon on vocation in this book was where I first experienced a "call" feeling.
Deborah Arvin
Jan 21, 2014 Deborah Arvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, I love everything Buechner writes. Never disappointed. In this book he's very candid about handling personal trials, one being how he dealt with a daughter who suffered from anorexia. Inspiring and encouraging.
Ross West
Jan 26, 2015 Ross West rated it it was amazing
Simply magnificent in communicating the message of faith in relation to real life
Steve Penner
Feb 14, 2014 Steve Penner rated it really liked it
Nothing can compare to Buechner's fiction, not even his sermons. But they are still worth the read. This book comprises many (maybe all) of Buechner's sermons from the first given at Philips Exeter prep school in 1959 to his welcome of students at another school in 1997--almost 50 years of sermons. Buechner's high prose and turn of a phrase are unparalleled. I can only imagine what they sounded like when first spoken. I used this volume as a morning devotional and found it inspiring and a great ...more
Joel Wentz
Dec 16, 2015 Joel Wentz rated it really liked it
A wonderful reminder that sermons need not follow the wooden, 3-point, problem-solution framework that so many preachers slavishly follow. Buechner is refreshing in his creativity, the way he weaves characters and stories into his preaching, and the earnest desire he has for people to fall in love with God. Many of the sermons in this collection are going to stick with me for a long time, and I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in spiritual matters.
Dec 30, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing
Buechner is always a fantastic addition to my life: empowering, challenging, humorous and wise. This collection of his sermons and essays is no exception. They are chronologically arranged and as such provide a moving arc of his life: in the end we see Buechner the old man bidding adieu to his old school and to life itself. Powerful stuff, for Christians, whole, doubting and otherwise. He paints his prose in vibrant strokes and with a master's ancient dexterity.
Keith Feisel
Jan 03, 2014 Keith Feisel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a good book to sit down with when you have time to ponder. Buechner does a superb job at painting a picture when an honest brush and a colorful palette. If you want to write non-fiction on life and faith, it would serve you well to expose yourself to this author.
Nov 02, 2011 Luke rated it liked it
This book had one huge plus and one huge minus. Buechner is an incredible thinker and communicator of God's Word. He gives tons of insight into stories I have heard taught many times before. That said, I read a book of his sermons and I am not sure that he believes the biblical gospel. An interesting read for someone who is interested in biblical communication.
Feb 05, 2008 Larry rated it it was amazing
frederick buechner is an ordained presbyterian minister and professional writer. this book is a collection of amazing, moving, sermons that are so different than what we usually hear from our pulpits. you experience them like a sunset, learn things you never thought of before, and are more spiritual at the end
Jim Dykstra
Feb 03, 2013 Jim Dykstra rated it it was amazing
Like any good preacher, some of these sermons aren't so good, but unlike many good preachers, Buechner's sermons often are stunning and soul-stopping. And this book has much more of the good messages, making it worth the time you have to wade through the slow ones. This book is written to be read slowly and savored.
Dec 17, 2010 Georgia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Very thoughtful and very literary sermons. I would really like to read more Buechner. The only thing that bothered me was that he was often playing the doubter but rarely straightforward–maybe he's just more subtle than Southern Baptists...
Jun 04, 2008 Sylvia rated it it was amazing
Buechner is one of my favorite authors and these are among his best sermons. If you've read his memoirs you recognize the many stories behind his illustrations and his choice of words. He's a beautiful, beautiful writer.
Sep 10, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Once seems a little silly to *rate* one of Buechner's books. I've taken it very slowly...about ten months. Strange coming to the end of this one. I don't expect I'll put it on a shelf and forget about it.
Jeanna Stavas
Mar 04, 2015 Jeanna Stavas marked it as to-read
This book is a thinker..As much as I'd like to read it all the way through in one sitting, I like to read it a chapter at a time and really let the concept and ideas sink in. It's deep and I like it!
Mar 11, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Allain
Jan 04, 2013 Brian Allain rated it it was amazing
This book is a selection of Buechner's sermons - you could consider it a "greatest hits" of his sermons. Honestly, I believe it is the best book I've ever read... Also see
Jul 13, 2008 Melody rated it really liked it
It's a great compilation of Frederick Beauchner's "greatest hits" sermons and readings, giving one an introduction to the depth that he goes into as he discovers who God is. A great journey so far.
Dec 18, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
Every page an inspiration. When I was writing sermons, I wanted to preach like him. My sister and brother and sister-in-law do, and I think it's when they're at their best.
Luke H
May 05, 2011 Luke H rated it it was amazing
buechner is wonderful. i sat with this book for a long time, trying to absorb each sermon. his language is so good it draws you into the concepts so deeply. a great collection.
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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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“Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.” 25 likes
“God knows we have our own demons to be cast out, our own uncleanness to be cleansed. Neurotic anxiety happens to be my own particular demon, a floating sense of doom that has ruined many of what could have been, should have been, the happiest days of my life, and more than a few times in my life I have been raised from such ruins, which is another way of saying that more than a few times in my life I have been raised from death - death of the spirit anyway, death of the heart - by the healing power that Jesus calls us both to heal with and to be healed by.” 7 likes
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