The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life

Where is God?  That is a question believers and unbelievers alike ask every day.  Believers wonder why God is not showing up when they need him, and unbelievers are quick to point out God is doing little to solve the world’s problems.  Those who trust the Bible as the Word of God are left to explain Gods absence over the last two thousand years.  Why haven’t we heard from God?  In his book, The Remarkable Ordinary, Frederick Buechner paints a picture that suggests we hear from God each and every day – not just believers, but unbelievers as well.  In fact, we are the language of God.

This book was published in 2017 as Buechner traveled into his nineties.  The editor notes that much of the material in the book was taken from earlier unpublished lectures delivered in 1997 and 1990.  I don’t know how much of a role Buechner played in compiling this work, most of which sounds like the musings of a younger man.  What I do know is that the chapters flow together beautifully and tell the story of his life in a way that opens us all up to understanding the story of our own lives.

These stories are clearly written by a man who has lived a full life that includes success and tragedy.  Those events that shaped his understanding of the world and its connection to God are the tools he uses to share God’s language with us.  When we take the time to look closer at life and not allow it to pass us by unnoticed, we can clearly see and feel God’s presence.  God is our Creator.  He is the Creator of us all.  When you look close at a great work of art you can see the artist’s brush strokes.  In that same way, when you take the time to look closely at anyone in your life, including yourself, you will see the brush strokes of God.  The language of the artist is paint.  The language of God is you and I.  That’s Frederick Buechner’s point of view which is wonderfully illustrated in this thoroughly enjoyable work.

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