Telling the Truth

I am (slowly) reading Frederick Buechner’s Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale. The leadership at our church in Nashville worked through it, and a friend also recommended it to me. It’s a great read, but I find myself rereading many sentences (which are sometimes as long as paragraphs) over and over to grasp all of the great stuff Buechner packed into this 98-page book.

In the chapter on the gospel as tragedy, Buechner discusses Jesus’ response to the death of Lazarus. “It is very easy to sentimentalize the scene and very tempting because to sentimentalize something is to look only at the emotion in it and at the emotion it stirs up in us rather than at the reality of it, which we are always tempted not to look at because reality, truth, silence are all what we are not much good at and avoid when we can. To sentimentalize something is to savor rather than to suffer the sadness of it, is to sigh over the prettiness of it rather than to tremble at the beauty of it, which may make fearsome demands of us or pose fearsome threats.”

It took me a couple reads through to even start to get my mind wrapped around Buechner’s words. It helped to reflect back on something else Buechner said a few pages previous in regards to the gospel. “After the silence that is truth comes the news that is bad before it is good, the word that is tragedy before it is comedy because it strips us bare in order ultimately to clothe us.”

I love this. I’m guilty of sentimentalizing and looking at the emotion rather than the reality. The reality is scary, but the gospel once again wrecks me, stripping me bare to ultimately clothe me. I am humbled by my need of God’s grace and at my complete inability to do anything in my own power for his glory. Yet, I frequently settle for the emotion and ignore the reality of this gospel. This gospel should blow my mind. It should totally wreck me every moment of every day. My life should be a testimony to this gospel wrecking my life.

I have been in Philadelphia now for over a month. Have I really looked at the reality of the gospel in my life or just sentimentalized my emotional response to it?


  1. i'm re-reading that chapter actually and have stopped on that sentence/paragraph a few times to attempt to sort-of understand what he's saying. and it's so true...i let my feelings get much bigger than the truth and reality of the situation. love that we are both reading this! slowly but surely...


Post a Comment