Academic journal article Christianity and Literature

2007 Conference on Christianity and Literature Awards

Academic journal article Christianity and Literature

2007 Conference on Christianity and Literature Awards

Article excerpt

Each year the Conference on Christianity and Literature recognizes literary achievement in the form of awards presented for lifetime achievement, best book in the field, and the Lionel Basney Award for best article published in Christianity and Literature. The winners of the 2007 awards are presented here along with the text of the citations delivered with each award.

Lifetime Achievement Award Frederick Buechner

The lifetime achievement award is presented to an individual chosen by the CCL executive board as one who has enriched the understanding of the relationship of Christianity and literature and contributed significantly to the dialogue among Christian scholars and between Christian scholars and the secular community of professionals. The following remarks were made by Roger Lundin of Wheaton College on the presentation of the award to Frederick Buechner on October 27 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Near the close of The Sacred Journey, the remarkable first volume of his memoirs, Frederick Buechner describes what some would call his conversion and what he terms the doing of "whatever it was that I believe must have been hiddenly in the doing all the years of my journey up till then" It happened one day, when he was listening to a sermon by George Buttrick at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Jesus Christ, Buttrick said, refused the crown Satan offered in the wilderness, but he is nevertheless again and again crowned king in the heart of those who believe in him. And that coronation takes place "among confession, and tears, and great laughter." "It was the phrase great laughter that did it," Buechner reports. "It was not so much that a door opened as that I suddenly found that a door had been open all along which ! had only just then stumbled upon."

As we honor Frederick Buechner with the Lifetime Achievement award of the Conference on Christianity and Literature, we are profoundly grateful that he came upon this open door and that he stepped through it to become one or our most accomplished contemporary writers and a most compelling witness to the beauty and mystery of Jesus Christ.

The volumes of Frederick Buechner's memoirs--The Sacred Journey, Now and Then, Telling Secrets, and The Eyes of the Heart--tell the story of the difficult years that led up to that day of great laughter and of the extraordinarily fruitful decades that came after it. They speak of his enchanted and afflicted childhood, marked by the loss of his father, which in an instant carried ten-year-old Fred from the world of "once-below-atime" into that of "once-upon-a-time." Those works also tell of his education at the Lawrenceville School and at Princeton, of his decision to become a full-time writer and of his discovery, in his words, of "the possibility ... of a life in Christ, with Christ, and on some fine day conceivably, even a life for Christ." The memoirs document his theological training at Union Seminary and speak of his discovery of another love: "I fell in love. I got married. Beyond that I will only say, with John Donne, that 'all measure, and all language, I should passe, / Should I tell what a miracle she was"' From New York, the newly-ordained Presybterian minister and his wife Judy moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, where he taught and preached for a decade and where they welcomed three daughters into the world. Then it was on to rural Vermont, where Fred and Judy live to this day, and where he has written almost all of the books for which we honor him today.

Ah, those books! There have been over thirty of them, they span more than half a century, and their range is nothing short of astonishing. There are novels, beginning with A Long-Day's Dying in 1950 and including the National Book Award nominee Lion Country, which is the first of Leo Bebb's four rollicking volumes, as well as the brilliant Godric, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. There have been several editions of sermons, including the recent Secrets in the Dark. …

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