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The Magnificent Defeat

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  459 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In The Magnificent Defeat, Frederick Buechner examines what it means to follow Christ, the lessons of Christmas and Easter, the miracles of grace, and "the magnificent defeat" of the human soul of God.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 8th 1985 by HarperOne (first published 1966)
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May 22, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
It is amazing to me to be able to read a book of reflections/essays first published in 1966 and find so many thoughts current and relevant to today's concerns. These 144 pages containing 18 "meditations" by Buechner - a Presbyterian minister and writer - to mainly young people at various congregations is a bonus in that it can be read one reflection at a time, each providing plenty of both comfort, challenge, and clarity.

A variety of thoughts from this book that have challenged me:
From a well kn
Jul 02, 2011 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"The Magnificent Defeat" is a series of essays originally presented as meditations to congregations consisting mostly of young people in the 1960s.
I like the plain, straight-forward, conversational style and the refreshing refusal to accept pat answers.
But to me, the meditations seemed to be lacking in depth. They seemed to be more milk than meat. Perhaps that's not so bad; we need milk to live, too.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I read it because Philip Yancey mentioned in one of h
Apr 02, 2016 Andy rated it it was amazing
As per usual, I found this collection of Buechner's sermons to be brilliant, direct, and profound. Some of the sermons published here have been reprinted in another compilation of his sermons titled "Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons" including the title sermon "The Magnificent Defeat." But there are quite a few gems in this collection that I encountered for the first time. For me, the standout sermons unique to this collection include:

The Road to Emmaus - a meditation on the "normalness" o
Alex Stroshine
Apr 15, 2012 Alex Stroshine rated it really liked it
Shelves: devotionals
Frederick Buechner is a tremendously gifted writer - something lacking in the Church these days. This collection of sermons was a delight to read; I found myself challenged and I had to underline several lengthy passages for their beauty and truth. The one thing that distracts me from Buechner's writing at times is that, those these sermons are each inspired by a few verses, Buechner rarely uses extensive Biblical teaching to back up his thoughts, relying primarily on his own experience and his ...more
J. Alfred
Jan 05, 2016 J. Alfred rated it really liked it
The more I read of Buechner's stuff, the more I'm upset at the evangelical community for not devouring and loving his entire body of work. It's poetic, profound, psychologically sound in ways that most Christian writing isn't: just about everything you could ask for in a writer. Get on it, all of us.
Mar 05, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
A collection of thoughtful, beautifully written sermons by a real spiritual thinker, writer and poetic. This made a wonderful discussion book.
I don't even know where to start when writing about Frederick Buechner. His works seem effortless, they are so well written. This book has been recommended to me several times and I finally got around to reading it this year.

Every sermon in this book challenges my thinking. Buechner's words about prayer, death, joy and children all link to things I have been contemplating. But then he takes me in directions that I could not have imagined.

I know I will be reading this book again. I wish I had som
Jesse Myers
Mar 24, 2011 Jesse Myers rated it really liked it
This book of sermons is a true gem. Buechner's style is all his own and his wisdom and insights are magnified by his elegant prose. He has that knack for teasing out the subtle turns in scripture that most readers gloss over, and cleverly turns these insights back onto the reader for reflection.

I read this book slowly, one sermon at a time over a couple weeks. I think that's best, a good sermon needs time to percolate. Most of these sermons have something that will make you sit up and take noti
Jun 01, 2014 Bryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Jun 18, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Buechner is one my favorites. His sermons are sung in a kind of poetry, the insights and challenges he offers are daunting and yet inspiring. Highly recommended Christian reading. Tillich trumps Buechner's intellect, but Buechner beats Tillich's aesthetics. Balanced against each other they are a powerful combination and a source of a lot of intellectual and spiritual energy.
May 29, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Another excellent series of essays (sermons) by Buechner on various topics. I am not sure Buechner intended it, but this book is divided in a Trinitarian way. The first part's essays focus more on God the Father, the second part on Jesus Christ, and the third part on life in the Spirit. Every chapter is short, but filled with wisdom and beautiful writing. Highly recommended.
Dianne Oliver
Dec 03, 2014 Dianne Oliver rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Poetic, creative, and oddly current for having been written in 66. I was challenged to rethink some of the familiar stories- of Easter and Christmas. Very simple style-positive.
Nich Traverse
Nov 07, 2012 Nich Traverse rated it it was amazing

I love this guy. His insights are great, they make me challenge myself as a follower of Jesus, AND he's a really nice guy who's very humble. Gotta love it!
Mar 19, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it
A great book of sermons. I used them as devotionals and was always left with something to meditate and apply in my own life.
Albert Hong
Aug 15, 2014 Albert Hong rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Some absolutely gorgeous sermons in this collection. The Tiger. To Be a Saint. Follow Me.
Cathy Freeman
Aug 25, 2010 Cathy Freeman rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful spiritual encounter-I will read it again and again. The passages are so uplifting!
Steve Penner
An incredibly vivid description of the impact of Jesus' death. Highly recommended.
Aug 18, 2014 Ms.Kim rated it it was amazing
this book changed my life. my favorite buechner book.
Linda S.
May 23, 2009 Linda S. rated it it was amazing
The most profound Buechner. A must-read.
May 16, 2014 Terence rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-read
okay book. Not bad, not great.
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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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“The love for equals is a human thing--of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing--the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing--to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy--love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.” 84 likes
“And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?” 41 likes
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