Godric A Novel Summary å 8


10 thoughts on “Godric A Novel

  1. says:

    A beautiful beautiful bookit opens with a remarkable line Five friends I had and two of them were snakes Buechner has conceived a uniue writing style to tell the story of the medieval Saxon and unofficial saint Godric It's the kind of book to nibble at over time to savor the mostly iambic metered prose that seems to favor words with Anglo Saxon roots The artful narrative is adorned with medieval symbols and details and is too densely crafted for a uick read despite being only 175 pages long It is a story of a self acknowledged fallen man broken by his sins on the one hand and of those who would elevate him to sainthood on the other even in the face of his protests and his freely offered evidence of unworthiness The book is Godric's confession of this unworthiness and the expression of his faith He laid his hands on me and blessed my eyes to see God's image deep in every man He blessed my ears to hear the cry especially of the poor He blessed my lips to speak no word but Gospel truth In earthy even vulgar language the account goes on to describe his sins and struggles ranging from thievery to forbidden relations Starkly honest and salacious the narrative delves the soul of the saint in his utter humanness But far from celebrating the sin found there the tapestry Buechner weaves always points to Godric's guilt and repentance to his lostness without a Savior So we too as we read are convinced by Godric's own personal testimony of his unholiness a testimony that draws us through his honesty and humility to see the brightness of the salvation that Christ offers This is the assurance that Godric needs and finds despite his profound unworthiness


  2. says:

    The life of a medieval hermit and saint Godric in his own words and memories and also as written down by Reginald a monk This gives you a glimpse into the medieval mind especially into that of one who is sorrowful for his life and spends fifty years in reparation praying to God Before visions or dreams of a monk Cuthbert and a girl Gillian Godric lives the life of a peddler merchant pirate steward to a lord sexton to a priest then gives his life to God This beautiful story flowed like the River Wear The author has turned it into a sort of rhythmical prose poem if I can use that expression A must read


  3. says:

    Godric was leant to me by a friend but it sat on the shelf for almost a year awaiting a breach in my perpetual reading list Recently I was ready to just give it back without reading because I had held on to it so long but an endorsement on the back cover caught my eye literally moments before I handed it back “From the book’s opening sentenceany sensible reader will be caught in Godric’s grip” Peter Prescott Newsweek Well that sounded like a challenge “Five friends I had and two of them snakes” Upon reading that first line I was skewered like a live pig but suealing thenceforward with delight through the rest of book Frederick Buechner truly writes with a masterful literary and poetic uality It was irreverent but wonderfully so for it happened to balance out the sense of histrionic piety throughout other parts of the book It was hilarious crude and beautiful at the same time Some of the lines made me blush in modesty “My bullocks shriveled to beansize in their sack and old One eye scarce a barnacle’s length clear of my belly and crying a mercy” Some lines struck me dumb with awe “‘Hold fast to Christ’ I said and she to me ‘In Hell you are the only Christ I have’” It is raw and witty “He prayed to a God he must have hoped by then ruled elsewhere than the carcasses of mortal men” His prose sings “Why did we weep? than anything I think we wept for us and so it is ever with tears Whatever be their outward cause within the chancel of the heart it’s we ourselves for whom they finally fall” He writes like he doesn’t have to work hard at it It flows too naturally to have been under stylistic duress of any kind and I imagine this sort of writing would have eventually unraveled had its author been overly cognizant of his own gifting It pays tribute to its medieval theme a middle ages saint yet it speaks with a modern poignancy and timeless relevance You have to be vigilant reading this book especially at first The meaning of a sentence will suddenly leap and twist mid sentence to double back on itself with another ending than you anticipated He brilliantly evades clichés and predictable interpretations of his characters If you place yourself in the shoes of the much derided Reginald Godric’s biographer you’d get a good feel for how Buechner chafes at conventional interpretations of religion He does only as much as he has to in order to help the reader understand something but he leaves some experience raw and undefined out of the reach of a deconstructing desire to digest the universe and God almighty with it Buechner is content with not knowing some things even about God “He learned that it was Jesu saved him from the sea though saved him why or saved for what deep end he did not learn nor has he learned it to this day”The foibles of his saint Godric comes with its medieval share of disgusting habits a mystical view of nature and religion slavish self flagellation inflation of God’s wrath deflation of his mercy and a devaluation of self as a parasite that God tolerates In worshipful moments Godric slithers and moans like a man who has not yet learned that if a creature can out moral his God then by all appearances at least he has bested his God in the only way that counts The saint cowers because he has not yet realized that if God need defend his belt against us then we must be formidable challengers indeed Thus it is pride and not humility that envisions God as monster and we the despised worms between his toes over which he glowers in greed for his breath back I for one want no god who suffers my existence merely to pave his roads and bejewel his throne by my praise and groveling adoration Such a god would be in greater need of my charity than I his There are some truly tragic moments in this story spoiler alert I hate that Godric left De Granville’s pre pubescent wife to suffer the shame and torment of De Granville’s cruelty I hate that his friend Mouse died without knowing how much Godric cared I hate that Godric’s brother was so desperate for a soul tether but drowned while searching in the night for his sister I hate how Godric and his sister fell in love with each other but were doomed to never find social acceptance of their relationship But I hated with the author because I loved with him his story and his charactersClearly Buechner loves the tragic heroic story of humanity as dark as it is in some places But ‘from the slime all gods have risen’ and the author’s celebration of the triumph of love and truth shines through the blackest shadows of human history He loves mankind for what he is—sexual sinful self punishing dirty smelly starving for a laugh drowning in his tears And he loves mankind for what he can be “As a man dies many times before he’s dead so does he wend from birth to birth until by grace he comes alive at last” Make no mistake Godric may have been written as a period piece but it is reflective of Buechner’s own beliefs With all of Godric’s flaws he is still honest a character trait uite possibly prized by Buechner above every other value except courage and faith I have one uestion that remains after my first bump into Buechner have I discovered a living Lewis? Methinks so


  4. says:

    I found the review below this weekend and was reminded how great Godric is and how even though I really like A Confederacy of Dunces this is a better book and should have won the Pulitzer that year And that last year I decided to add this to my read yearly list So here we gohttpdgmyersblogspotcom201005g61412 Looking at what I wrote last year after my yearly reread of Godric it strikes me as odd that I was and still am to some extent upset by the results of a Pulitzer prize contest that happened when I was 5 It is a great book though


  5. says:

    This was the first of Buechner's fiction that I had ever read and it was such a good book Through the story of Godric which became my story Buechner explores the darkness of the human heart and how amazing and beautiful is the Love of Jesus My favorite part of out of the whole book is when he asked himself what prayer was It is a passage to re read several times and think over


  6. says:

    Rabbit Room review here Kirkus Review here Poetic Spirituality review here Hermitary review here Captain Thin review here A Commonplace Blog review here Edoardo Albert review here See Nathan Kilpatrick's article The giving and taking of wounds Friendship and hagiography in Frederick Buechner's Godric in Christianity Literature 654 Sept 2016 455–72 Fascinating CL interview with Buechner here Buechner won CL's lifetime achievement award in 2007A little confusing at first because the narrative jumps back and forth from present to past Godric G also speaks of himself in the third person sometimes3–8 present narrated by Godric of Finchale; five friends two snakes Mouse Ailred abott Gillian; Reginald Reg is writing bio; friendship a matter of wounds; absence of friends leaves one empty cf CSL and Williams9–16 past distant father Aedlward who works hard for the lord; G has grey eyes; mother Aedwen; odd sister Burcwen; brother William; the fish and the near death experience miracle; 3 lessons17–22 present Reg on the meanings of names see here God reigns vs God wrecked; Reg's s about dreams etc; William of Normandy; rule of St Benedict; Godric feels unworthy of bio; lyric poetry Mary23–27 past Tom Ball's blessing doors choices; parting words with family; Burcwen threatens suicide playfully28–34 past River Wear; iron vest made; death of Small confused with Haggai at Bishop's Lynn; 3 follies G kills cat to peddle relics35–39 past Farne; penance; buries treasure from Bishop's Lynn; dream of Cuthbert; confession; friend Roger Mouse boatman40–43 pastpresent tension of young vs old; Beckett mentioned; legends of Godric's encounter with a boarSatan and his kissing a leper; guilt over the truth of the leper incident; process of people's pilgrimage to see Godric monks at Durham are gatekeepers; worthy pilgrims or those who pay get a cross of plaited straw; Godric feels unworthy to impart grace and sometimes he feels that he'll lose it himself and he wants to hold onto whatever grace he does have44–49 past waves melt away like years; G tells Mouse a false name Gudericus Deric naming issue; fish bumper sticker; Alfred the Great; they steal a ship and begin pirating; growing rich; Ps 124; Mary as Virgin; God's love's all gift; many sins; death of Cuthbert on Farne50–55 past six month break; Aedlward G's father has died; Burcwen wants to go with G—he says no; we're all under a stone whether a tombstone or needhurtlongingetc; alleged dream of Aedwen Aedlward in Purgatory reuesting prayers at Peter's tomb in Rome; G promises to go to Rome with his mother; Burcwen stays with William incestuous sexual tension with G; prayers to Mary56–61 presentpast Ailred and G on church roof River Wear flooding; G is 80; Reg gone for the moment; G contemplates the nature of time; G's prescience; ref to Noah; G tells Ailred about the journey to Rome; thieving priest; double murder pregnant woman punished by uartering; time again; return of Reg; problem of evil perspective62–67 past Rachel not who Jacob thought she was — Rome not what pilgrims expected cf Luther's journey; Gen 319; relics peddled; crusaders; Pope seems distracted; G and mother given a tour—see the Colosseum; we weep for ourselves; no God in Rome but they pray anyway; significance of the trapped bird?; BCP language; G sees a bear on the way home—eats figs and expels them — Gillian appears and interprets the fable—G has polluted God's grace68–73 past comfort of familiar language; travel home with other pilgrims henpecked baker and wife Ralph the mason Maud the Bawd and Cherryman the priest; Gillian appears periodically speaking in proverbs; she sees Aedlward freezing in Purgatory; part of G freezes when Gillian departs74 79 past G reaches home and lies to Burcwen about MouseDeric cf JekyllHyde; why mention Gillian now?; relationship with B strained; Falkes de Granvill Norfolk lord hires G to be a steward G wants to escape home; FdG's wife is Hedwic very young80–88 presentpastpresent Reg thinks G has died; the trial of aging; FdG mistreats the poor crops them to make them sprout—G participates; Hedwic's parable about a pristine outside concealing a corrupt inside; dilemma of speaking up and bringing pain upon others; FdG laughed at G's concern for those being cheated; G flees hearing Hedwic weeping89–94 past meets up with Mouse who's lost an eye; G had lain with Gillian?; gabbing can signal the loss of friendship; took pilgrims to Jerusalem; prior to arriving in Arsuf they pick up the king of Jerusalem Baldwin; land at Jaffa; Jerusalem is saved from the Turks irony of God's will being done by rogues; G refuses to steal from pilgrims and Mouse throws him overboard95–99 present lostfound; contemplation on friendship rockswater; Perkin green eyes as an almost son—helps with G's tomb; reference to Jordan river and G's regeneration death of Deric and new birth of G100–5 past entire chapter is a prayer; G wants to learn to pray; tour of Jerusalem compared with Rome; G about 100 at the time of telling this part of his life; guilt weighs on G's back; recounting of sins commission and omission; G wades in Jordan and comes out changed; fools for Christ106–13 past G goes barefoot to honor Christ; white bird significance?; asks feet to help him to do good; deposits Farne treasure at a church near Bishop Auckland; Elric anchorite at Wulsingham wrestles demons and speaks of penance; G carries Elric on his back put one burden down and picked up another; Elric much lighter than the guilt; G stays at Elric's cairn for two years—learned how to live114–20 past Elric Scratch fair find foul So goes the world temptation is always lurking; skull's a chapel but hands feet and heart have other desires we're not completely governed by logicreason; Devil often appears as Christ; G Elric Reg G; in G's dream Cuthbert shows him his destination and turns broken sticks into two snakes; death of Elric121–27 present Bishop Pudsey summons G to Durham to be honored at Christmas mass prob also to honor himself; G has gone without shoes for 50 years; shrine of Cuthbert's bones; Ranulf Flambard brought Cuthbert to Durham 50 yrs ago—body was preserved 500 yrs old; on the way home G sees Burcwen's tomb in a convent she died of life; G almost killed by Scottish brigands they don't know that men's treasure is buried in graves; Norman bishops can't repel the darkness128–33 presentpast G was about 40 when Elric died Henry I was king; Finchale rhymes with wrinkle; G left Elric and went to Saint Giles met a relative of Tom Ball's Littlefair deaf wife Joan; Littlefair enlists G's help as a bellringerdoorkeeper; G disciplines the choir boys but they like his expurgated stories G uestions the removal of the grief and ugliness; one of them Gilbert suggests that G learn to readwrite at the school at Saint Mary le Bow in Durham; works to escape Purgatory; Bishop Flambard's injusticegreed logos yet G is thankful that Flambard takes a liking to him pathos134–38 past Flambard red hair says golden rule is that the rich get richer—doesn't care about the poor; Flambard talks about progress making labor lighter and says that God rules through male procreation making babies and wit making a wondrous world; Flambard's penance heavy guilt; on a hunting trip with Flambard who wrestles friends then naps G wanders and finds the place that Cuthbert had revealed in G's dream two snakes; G gets permission to make his cell there and serve the King139–44 past G lived 50 yrs at Finchale left only 3x; filled the yrs with past imagined past what might have been road diverged and imagined future; danger of dreams can't control lustful thoughts; reference to The Anarchy; uestion of God's providencesovereignty; faithhopelove; G's internal war uestion of the nature of prayer see Prayer I something understood; separate visions of Mary John the Baptist and Jesus connected to prayer145–51 past family comes to Finchale a year after G arrives there; house burned by rogues suspicious of unmarried Burcwen and William poverty — false rumors; part of Aedwen metaphysical burned with the house; time like Wear carries everything away Aedwen's contemplation of deathrestporridge 3 estates and G's insistence that the dead will rise again; Aedwen sounds like Candide; William's gabbing hides his loneliness; Burcwen's frustration with William and her own loneliness and sense of loss sexual tension with G; G's works for Christ; death of Aedwen152–57 past G watches his sister bathe ref to Susanna; G and B shun each other; William thinks something's wrong with B; G eventually asks B for forgiveness—she comes to him at night and they talk and ; William can't find B is given no help from GB and dies searching for her; G feels the guilt of a murderer158–64 past B joins a convent of nuns; years later G sees B one time—communicate without speaking; G sees the deaths of Mouse and Perkin second sight; banishment of two snakes can't banish lust—cf Patrick165–71 present various Godric's; Reg wants G to bless the manuscript but G fears it's too sweet; G has a stroke catalyst is being called a saint—G knows he'll die today; G washes in Wear once ; Perkin helps G bless the manuscript; who's the Sweetheart?; lostfound172–75 present Reg reads manuscript of G's deathreputation; two snakes pay homage; B's cross found around G's neck—turned into a relic177–78 historical note see ODNB; initially resisted being biographized; earliest lyric poet in English; prophetic ability


  7. says:

    A game changer


  8. says:

    Buechner's reimagined biography of the saint is an empathetic account of the True Man whose reality plumbs the depths of everyone who wills to look into their darkness fear and grime and there discover life against the vastness of which death can barely fill a cup We assume Godric's sainthood as we tread his decrepit path of pernicious greed lust longing loneliness and sorrow; half a life as his alter ego Deric pilfering pilgrims whoring proffering religious hokum and killing incidentally comical in their correlation and feline bloodletting and robbing the poor to fatten the rich Yet it is in the dank and rags that Deric is finally buried after years of burying his own ill gotten gains on the remote isle of Farne and Godric finds his true self; that glimmer of humanity that can no longer bear life's vanity cruelty and pain God's existence is not negated by a broken world and broken lives; His reality is affirmed in spite of the dark as our humanity is stirred to a sense of hope of what should and shall be Godric guffaws at every attempt to sweeten the account of his life by the monk Reginald and the miracles ascribed to him the account of him curing a leper with a kiss is a hilarious highlight Sainthood is not cloaked in glory and the sublime The glory is in the grime Beneath all that religious affectation is the accretion of evil hate depravity and amidst the dark a kernel of true humanity as God intended it if we have the courage to confront our shameful obscenity and corruption; Godric admits even the most virginal sight by day is transformed to the most lustful dreams at night The whitewashed hypocrisy of clergymen makes such honesty debilitating acknowledging one's rot would invite condemnation and retribution by those no less fetid Yet when we remain closed to revealing the Truths of ourselves to each other we condemn ourselves to isolation and loneliness and retaliate in hurt and fear as the doomed love of Godric and his sister Burcwen attestsTime is an ever flowing stream of remembrance conscious living in the present moment as Godric personifies in his daily baptismal ablutions in the Wear rain snow or shine and the hope of what should be and shall come Through Godric's biography Buechner finds the timeless narrative of an unchanging God and the ordinary story of Christian faith one riddled with moments of doubt what if Godric had never met his friend Mouse and indulged in thievery; what if he had never left his sister Bercwen behind; what if he'd married and settled and clarifying visions Godric receives the word of a gutted porpoise at one point desolating silence and irrefutable foretelling Godric is led to his hermitage by the River Wear in a dream visitation by Saint Cuthbert where he remains the second half of his life despondency of one's moral ineptitude and the life giving moments of one's sacrifice and compassion Godric learns even in the moral ruins of Rome where he makes a pilgrimage with his mother God can be heard in silence While Godric lives a life of monastic contemplation and penance his mortification is less the means to perfection than a conscientious giving of the impoverished little he has; this giving should never be joyless unlike his mentor Elric who sees demons in every crevice recites every celebratory psalm like a dirge and imagines missing his mortifications in paradise Neither is God found in the denial of reality God resides in the muck; it is not some spectacular declarative proof from God we desire but the experience of a personal communion with Him And that can happen in any ordinary life even for a clod like William Godric's friendless brotherBuechner's novel condenses many of the theological themes in his sermons But this is not theology in the guise of a novel It is an artistic work that weaves an intriguing narrative a finger to the propagandistic lives of the saints in a convincing medieval voice that cajoles with humour cynicism and pathos


  9. says:

    This creative retelling of a historical character's life is probably the most poetic lyrical prose I've ever read This is a story about a saint who knows he's a miserable sinner or about the ordinariness of those we call saints and therefore also about the saintliness of many who we believe to be merely ordinary What makes a person a saint? Perhaps nothing than that they never give up the struggle to fight against the sin inside and cry out to God perpetually for his mercy


  10. says:

    It took me fifty something pages into this to stop really disliking it Godric was such a profoundly unattractive character there that I could hardly picture slogging along with him for 175 pages and the “earthiness” of the first part of the book while not inappropriate given the setting was well very earthy There are only a certain number of times that I need to read about people's personal bits swinging about and it is a much smaller number than Buechner provided Still after the first third or so of the book things improved and kept on improving until by the end Godric turned out to be everything I'd hoped for The book richly conveys medieval attitudes and beliefs which is partly why I chose to read it the kids and I are studying the medieval period this year so a fictionalized “biography” of a 12th century holy man seemed just the thing but I mainly chose it because I really loved On the Road With the Archangel In the last two thirds of the book once we are past Godric's youthful career did he have to be uite so wicked? there are some absolutely brilliant profound and beautiful passages


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Godric A Novel

characters ↠ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ↠ Frederick Buechner

Frederick Buechner's Godric retells the life of Godric of Finchale a twelfth century English holy man whose projects late in life included that of purifying his moral ambition of prideSin spiritual yearning rebirth fierce asceticism these hagiographic staples aren't easy to revitalize but Frederick Buechner goes at the task with intelligent intensity and a fine readiness to invent what history doesn't supply He contrives a style of speech for his narrator Godric himself that's brisk and tough sinewedHe avoids metaphysical fiddle em. Godric was leant to me by a friend but it sat on the shelf for almost a year awaiting a breach in my perpetual reading list Recently I was ready to just give it back without reading because I had held on to it so long but an endorsement on the back cover caught my eye literally moments before I handed it back “From the book’s opening sentenceany sensible reader will be caught in Godric’s grip” Peter Prescott Newsweek Well that sounded like a challenge “Five friends I had and two of them snakes” Upon reading that first line I was skewered like a live pig but suealing thenceforward with delight through the rest of book Frederick Buechner truly writes with a masterful literary and poetic uality It was irreverent but wonderfully so for it happened to balance out the sense of histrionic piety throughout other parts of the book It was hilarious crude and beautiful at the same time Some of the lines made me blush in modesty “My bullocks shriveled to beansize in their sack and old One eye scarce a barnacle’s length clear of my belly and crying a mercy” Some lines struck me dumb with awe “‘Hold fast to Christ’ I said and she to me ‘In Hell you are the only Christ I have’” It is raw and witty “He prayed to a God he must have hoped by then ruled elsewhere than the carcasses of mortal men” His prose sings “Why did we weep than anything I think we wept for us and so it is ever with tears Whatever be their outward cause within the chancel of the heart it’s we ourselves for whom they finally fall” He writes like he doesn’t have to work hard at it It flows too naturally to have been under stylistic duress of any kind and I imagine this sort of writing would have eventually unraveled had its author been overly cognizant of his own gifting It pays tribute to its medieval theme a middle ages saint yet it speaks with a modern poignancy and timeless relevance You have to be vigilant reading this book especially at first The meaning of a sentence will suddenly leap and twist mid sentence to double back on itself with another ending than you anticipated He brilliantly evades clichés and predictable interpretations of his characters If you place yourself in the shoes of the much derided Reginald Godric’s biographer you’d get a good feel for how Buechner chafes at conventional interpretations of religion He does only as much as he has to in order to help the reader understand something but he leaves some experience raw and undefined out of the reach of a deconstructing desire to digest the universe and God almighty with it Buechner is content with not knowing some things even about God “He learned that it was Jesu saved him from the sea though saved him why or saved for what deep end he did not learn nor has he learned it to this day”The foibles of his saint Godric comes with its medieval share of disgusting habits a mystical view of nature and religion slavish self flagellation inflation of God’s wrath deflation of his mercy and a devaluation of self as a parasite that God tolerates In worshipful moments Godric slithers and moans like a man who has not yet learned that if a creature can out moral his God then by all appearances at least he has bested his God in the only way that counts The saint cowers because he has not yet realized that if God need defend his belt against us then we must be formidable challengers indeed Thus it is pride and not humility that envisions God as monster and we the despised worms between his toes over which he glowers in greed for his breath back I for one want no god who suffers my existence merely to pave his roads and bejewel his throne by my praise and groveling adoration Such a god would be in greater need of my charity than I his There are some truly tragic moments in this story spoiler alert I hate that Godric left De Granville’s pre pubescent wife to suffer the shame and torment of De Granville’s cruelty I hate that his friend Mouse died without knowing how much Godric cared I hate that Godric’s brother was so desperate for a soul tether but drowned while searching in the night for his sister I hate how Godric and his sister fell in love with each other but were doomed to never find social acceptance of their relationship But I hated with the author because I loved with him his story and his charactersClearly Buechner loves the tragic heroic story of humanity as dark as it is in some places But ‘from the slime all gods have risen’ and the author’s celebration of the triumph of love and truth shines through the blackest shadows of human history He loves mankind for what he is—sexual sinful self punishing dirty smelly starving for a laugh drowning in his tears And he loves mankind for what he can be “As a man dies many times before he’s dead so does he wend from birth to birth until by grace he comes alive at last” Make no mistake Godric may have been written as a period piece but it is reflective of Buechner’s own beliefs With all of Godric’s flaws he is still honest a character trait uite possibly prized by Buechner above every other value except courage and faith I have one uestion that remains after my first bump into Buechner have I discovered a living Lewis Methinks so

Summary Godric A Novel

Bedding his narrative in domestic reality familiar affection responsibilities disastersAll on his own Mr Buechner has managed to reinvent projects of self purification and of faith as piuant matter for contemporary fiction in a book notable for literary finishFrederick Buechner is a very good writer indeed Benjamin DeMott The New York Times Book ReviewFrom the book's opening sentenceand sensible reader will be caught in Godric's gripGodric glimmers brightly Peter S Prescott NewsweekGodric is a memorable booka marvelous gem of a. This was the first of Buechner's fiction that I had ever read and it was such a good book Through the story of Godric which became my story Buechner explores the darkness of the human heart and how amazing and beautiful is the Love of Jesus My favorite part of out of the whole book is when he asked himself what prayer was It is a passage to re read several times and think over

characters ↠ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ↠ Frederick Buechner

Bookdestined to become a classic of its kind Michael Heskett Houston ChronicleIn the extraordinary figure of Godric both stubborn outsider and true child of God both worldly and unworldly Frederick Buechner has found an ideal means of exploring the nature of spirituality Godric is a living battleground where God fights it out with the world the Flesh and the Devil London Times Literary SupplementWith a poet's sensibly and a high reverent fancy Frederick Buechner paints a memorable portrait Edmund Fuller The Wall Street Journ. Buechner's reimagined biography of the saint is an empathetic account of the True Man whose reality plumbs the depths of everyone who wills to look into their darkness fear and grime and there discover life against the vastness of which death can barely fill a cup We assume Godric's sainthood as we tread his decrepit path of pernicious greed lust longing loneliness and sorrow; half a life as his alter ego Deric pilfering pilgrims whoring proffering religious hokum and killing incidentally comical in their correlation and feline bloodletting and robbing the poor to fatten the rich Yet it is in the dank and rags that Deric is finally buried after years of burying his own ill gotten gains on the remote isle of Farne and Godric finds his true self; that glimmer of humanity that can no longer bear life's vanity cruelty and pain God's existence is not negated by a broken world and broken lives; His reality is affirmed in spite of the dark as our humanity is stirred to a sense of hope of what should and shall be Godric guffaws at every attempt to sweeten the account of his life by the monk Reginald and the miracles ascribed to him the account of him curing a leper with a kiss is a hilarious highlight Sainthood is not cloaked in glory and the sublime The glory is in the grime Beneath all that religious affectation is the accretion of evil hate depravity and amidst the dark a kernel of true humanity as God intended it if we have the courage to confront our shameful obscenity and corruption; Godric admits even the most virginal sight by day is transformed to the most lustful dreams at night The whitewashed hypocrisy of clergymen makes such honesty debilitating acknowledging one's rot would invite condemnation and retribution by those no less fetid Yet when we remain closed to revealing the Truths of ourselves to each other we condemn ourselves to isolation and loneliness and retaliate in hurt and fear as the doomed love of Godric and his sister Burcwen attestsTime is an ever flowing stream of remembrance conscious living in the present moment as Godric personifies in his daily baptismal ablutions in the Wear rain snow or shine and the hope of what should be and shall come Through Godric's biography Buechner finds the timeless narrative of an unchanging God and the ordinary story of Christian faith one riddled with moments of doubt what if Godric had never met his friend Mouse and indulged in thievery; what if he had never left his sister Bercwen behind; what if he'd married and settled and clarifying visions Godric receives the word of a gutted porpoise at one point desolating silence and irrefutable foretelling Godric is led to his hermitage by the River Wear in a dream visitation by Saint Cuthbert where he remains the second half of his life despondency of one's moral ineptitude and the life giving moments of one's sacrifice and compassion Godric learns even in the moral ruins of Rome where he makes a pilgrimage with his mother God can be heard in silence While Godric lives a life of monastic contemplation and penance his mortification is less the means to perfection than a conscientious giving of the impoverished little he has; this giving should never be joyless unlike his mentor Elric who sees demons in every crevice recites every celebratory psalm like a dirge and imagines missing his mortifications in paradise Neither is God found in the denial of reality God resides in the muck; it is not some spectacular declarative proof from God we desire but the experience of a personal communion with Him And that can happen in any ordinary life even for a clod like William Godric's friendless brotherBuechner's novel condenses many of the theological themes in his sermons But this is not theology in the guise of a novel It is an artistic work that weaves an intriguing narrative a finger to the propagandistic lives of the saints in a convincing medieval voice that cajoles with humour cynicism and pathos

  • Paperback
  • 178
  • Godric A Novel
  • Frederick Buechner
  • English
  • 26 March 2019
  • 9780060611620

About the Author: Frederick Buechner

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 WinnerHis first book A Long Day's Dying was published to acclaim just two years after he graduated from Princeton He entere