Among his novels, “Lion Country” was a finalist for the 1972 National Book Award and “Godric” a finalist for the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His short story “The Tiger,” published in The New Yorker, took third prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1955.
Listening to one’s life became a theme in his work, because, he said in a 1989 appearance on the Chicago Sunday Evening Club, if there was a God and if God were as concerned with the world and involved in it as Christianity says, then surely one of the most powerful ways God speaks to people is in what happens to them.
That’s something bestselling memoirist Anne Lamott, a progressive Christian who wrote the introduction to the 2016 book “Buechner 101,” has said she took away from Buechner’s writing.
It gave Lamott the confidence, after paying attention to her own life, “to share that with my readers and to trust that that is ultimately all we have to share with one another — is our truth in our very own voice,” she said in a YouTube video posted by the Frederick Buechner Center to mark Buechner’s 90th birthday.
While Buechner was ordained in a progressive mainline Protestant denomination, his fans also included Catholics and conservative evangelicals.
Russell Moore, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention‘s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission who recently was named editor in chief of Christianity Today, credited Buechner’s writing with making him a better evangelical in a 2017 commentary for the magazine.
“J. Gresham Machen and Carl F. H. Henry taught me that I needn’t put my mind in a blind trust in order to follow Jesus. Buechner taught me the same about my imagination,” Moore wrote.
The Rev. James Martin, editor at large of America Media, said in another YouTube video posted by the Frederick Buechner Center that the author was “instrumental in my early days as a Jesuit.”
On Monday, Martin tweeted, “I’m so sorry to hear of the death of Frederick Buechner, who led a long and fruitful life and was one of my favorite spiritual writers. ‘The Sacred Journey’ is one of the most beautiful spiritual memoirs ever written. May he rest in peace with the God he loved for so long.”
Buechner, who split his time between Vermont and Florida, is survived by his wife, Judith Buechner, three daughters, a son-in-law and 10 grandchildren.
This article originally appeared at ReligionNews.com.