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The Magnificent Defeat

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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  560 Ratings  ·  27 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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Anne White
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Buechner at his most brilliant. The only irritation was not the writing but the brittle 1985 binding that was crumbling in my hands as I read. I hope I can find another copy.
Michael Poteet
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that made me want to be a preacher. Beautiful insights into Scripture and the realities, both harsh and sublime, of real human life, beautifully expressed. Especially recommend "The End is Life" and "The Road to Emmaus," as well as the title sermon. Just cannot stress enough how incredible his ministry of the Word truly is.
Tim
Apr 02, 2013 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
...more
John
Jun 24, 2011 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
...more
Jeff
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read Buechner before, but it's been a long time. I've had an interest in his writings for a couple of reasons. One, he is a great inspiration to my favorite Christian singer/songwriter, Terry Scott Taylor. Two, I follow his page on Facebook, and there frequent nuggets of wisdom that come from his writings.

The Magnificent Defeat, published in 1966, is a series of messages/meditations that were "presented to congregations composed largely of young people." There are three parts: Part I, The C
...more
Caroline
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Anxiety and fear are what we know best in this fantastic century of ours. Wars and rumors of wars. From civilization itself to what seemed the most unalterable values of the past, everything is threatened or already in ruins. We have heard so much tragic news that when the news is good we cannot hear it.

But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. And as a Christian, I say this not with the easy optimism of one who has never known a time when all was not well but as one who has faced
...more
Andy
Nov 24, 2013 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
...more
Alex Stroshine
Mar 16, 2012 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
Patty
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
...more
Jesse Myers
Feb 23, 2011 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
...more
Chris
Jun 18, 2008 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.
David
May 29, 2010 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.
J. Alfred
Dec 30, 2015 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.
Cathy Freeman
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful spiritual encounter-I will read it again and again. The passages are so uplifting!
Angela
Mar 19, 2011 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.
Nich Traverse
Oct 29, 2012 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!
Bryan
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
2/3/12
Steve Penner
An incredibly vivid description of the impact of Jesus' death. Highly recommended.
heather
Oct 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
4.5
Albert Hong
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Some absolutely gorgeous sermons in this collection. The Tiger. To Be a Saint. Follow Me.
Linda S.
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The most profound Buechner. A must-read.
Dave
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent sermons that take the Bible as it is, even when the message does not seem to fit our ideas.
Dianne Oliver
Apr 03, 2012 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.
Terence
Oct 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-read
okay book. Not bad, not great.
Nancy
Mar 05, 2014 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.
Mike H
rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2017
David Zailer
rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2012
Lane
rated it it was amazing
Jul 04, 2013
Justin Pitt
rated it it was amazing
Aug 24, 2015
Manish Daswani
rated it it was amazing
Mar 16, 2012
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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
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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.” 93 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?” 54 likes
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