“Contrary to widespread religious belief,” he wrote in a 1994 essay for The Times, “I don’t think God changes things in the sense that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people, or from one person to another.” giving one party the victory over the other in wars, or pushing a bill through Congress to make school prayer constitutional.”
Mr. Buechner said he believed that chance largely ruled the universe, but also that “through the chance things that happen, God opens up possibilities for redemptive human change in the inner self, even for people who would not be caught dead by in Him.” to believe.” .”
Born from a chaotic childhood where his family was constantly moving when his father, an unsuccessful salesman for industrial chemical companies, drifted from job to job during the Depression and committed suicide when the boy was 10, Mr. Buechner went to a private boarding school and his father’s alma mater, Princeton, and taught for a few years before starting his writing career in New York City.
His first novel, “A Long Day’s Dying” (1950), about conflicts between a student, his widowed mother, his grandmother and his mother’s lovers, appeared when he was 23. It garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success. “All in all, this is a real work of art, fine sensibility and uncanny human understanding,” wrote David Daiches, a Cornell English scholar, in The Times Book Review.
It was only after the publication of his less successful second novel, “The Seasons’ Difference” (1952), which explored the moral vacuum in a group of sophisticated, that Mr. Buechner had his spiritual awakening. While attending Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, he heard a sermon from the famous pastor, George Buttrick, which inspired him.