Pronuncation of “Buechner”

Two websites say Buechner is pronounced “Bushner.” Two others says it’s “BYOOK-nur.”

The website for Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, NC  ( claims to know the pronunciation of Frederick Buechner’s name from the horse’s mouth:

“The author Frederick Buechner, whose last name is something of a pronunciation challenge since it is spelled B-U-E-C-H-N-E-R, says of his own name:

“‘It is my name. It is pronounced Beekner. If somebody mispronounces it in some foolish way, I have the feeling that what’s foolish is me. If somebody forgets it, I feel that it is I who am forgotten. There’s something about it that embarrasses me in just the same way that there’s something about me that embarrasses me. I can’t imagine myself with any other name: Held, say, or Merrill, or Hlavacek. If my name were different, I would be different. When I tell somebody my name, I have given him a hold over me that he didn’t have before. If he calls it out, I stop, look, and listen whether I want to or not.'”

Someone named Em Griffin, in an article published in Leadership Journal exactly 29 years ago today, apparently knew this fact about him. He (or she) writes:


January 1, 1984

I walked into the large religious bookstore that had pyramid displays of hooks by Tim LaHaye, Ann Kiemel, and Keith Miller.

“What do you have by Fred Buechner?” I asked the clerk.

“Who?” she asked. Perhaps the pronunciation of the name had thrown her off. (The first syllable rhymes with “seek.”) But no, neither the clerk nor the manager were familiar with Frederick Buechner, and not a copy of his twenty-plus books was on the shelves. That’s too bad. I regard him as the most exciting Christian writer since C. S. Lewis.

Like Lewis, Buechner writes fiction for those who stand outside the church and yet are hungry for the mystery of what the Christian faith is all about. Like Lewis, his nonfiction is becoming must reading at seminaries. His ability to state old theological truths in new, vivid language is a model for all pastors.

Like Lewis, Buechner believes we are to take God seriously, but not ourselves. He’s the only author who can make me both laugh and cry-often on the same page. It’s appropriate that Wheaton College has just accepted all of Buechner’s personal papers and manuscripts to reside in the Wade collection next to those of the author of the Narnia Chronicles, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.

On the chance that you’ve yet to discover the delicious tang of Buechner’s words, I’ve pulled together a sampler of quotes under various headings. A few are taken from a recent interview at his home in Vermont, but most are from books available in your bookstore-if you ask real hard. . .

Making Scripture come alive

Buechner claims that words-especially religious words-get tired and stale the way people do. “If a person is going to be any kind of a preacher, he/she is going to have to avoid canned, religious, seminary, algebraic … To read the rest of this article you have to go to this site and join CTLibrary.


About Jessica Renshaw
This entry was posted in C.S. Lewis, Frederick Buechner, Literature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pronuncation of “Buechner”

  1. McGrath says:

    Thanks for this. I like to pronounce people’s names correctly if possible. Oh, I imagine this must be the Em Griffin who was a longtime Wheaton College communication professor and author of a textbook on communication theory:

  2. And might you be related to Alister?

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