The Clown in the Belfry (1992)

Writings on faith and fiction

Book Description

"There are fourteen pieces here, six of them sermons which I preached at various times over the last five years or so...the remaining pieces are a real mishmash...'Faith and Fiction' is a lecture I gave one winter at the New York Public Library where I tried to say something about what I think those two expressions of the human spirit have in common and along the way to tell a thing or two about my own involvement with them. It is bats that are supposed to be found in belfries, but for a few incandescent moments in 1831 a man named Lyman Woodard was to be found in one that is still higher than any other building in Rupert, Vermont. The event is described in its proper place. Suffice it to say here only that one day he climbed up and stood on his head in that belfry. Why did he do it? Was he drunk? Was he crazy? Who knows? Who even cares? The point is that it was a gorgeous, clownish, inspired, and inspiring thing to do. It was a radically new way of looking at the mysteries of earth and heaven. It is Saint Paul writing, 'We are fools for Christ's sake.' It is David dancing naked before the ark. It is the rapturous shenanigans and holy abandon of faith kicking up its heels and considering the lilies of the field from an altogether different vantage. It is what virtually everything in this collection is trying to be about, and hence the title."
— Frederick Buechner in the Introduction to The Clown in the Belfry.


"The Clown in the Belfry is an edifying and illuminating read. Turn your contemplation of it into a spiritual exercise, and you are bound to be surprised by joy."
— Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice

"Frederick Buechner is without question one of the truly great writers of the 20th century and into the present. He is already being mentioned in the category of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton."

"Buechner defies the odds. His sermons read like wisdom literature."
— Jim Gordon