Wishful Thinking

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 12/10/2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $59!
    Your order must be $59 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $13.99 Save up to $6.81
  • Rent Book $7.69
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


In Wishful Thinking, the first book in his much-loved lexical trilogy, Frederick Buechner puts the language of God, the universe, and the human spirit under his wry linguistic microscope. In his often ironic and always keen-sighted reflections on such terms as agnostic, envy, love, and sin, he invited us to look at theses everyday words in new and enlightening ways. Freshly revised and expanded for this edition, Wishful Thinking is a "beguiling" [Time] adventure in language for the restless believer, the doubter, and all who love words.


Wishful Thinking
A Theological ABC

Author's Note

For what Wishful Thinking means, see under W -- that is to say for what I think it means. Wishfully

What follows is a kind of mongrel litter by Pascal's Pensées, out of Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique, via The Devil's Dictionary of Ambrose Bierce. As in the case of any such enterprise, you stand to learn considerably more about the prejudices, limitations, and enthusiasms of the lexicographer than about the words in his lexicon. I suppose it can't be helped.

As for the words, most of them are so familiar or formidable or both that nobody pays much attention to them any more, and yet they stand for realities which everybody, religiously inclined or otherwise, has to keep on dealing with year after year like it or not. Faith, for example. One way or another, it is what gets us all out of bed in the morning. Or fails to. Needless to say, the definitions make no claim of being even close to definitive. At their best they may serve to raise an unsettled and unsettling question or two. It is in essence a Doubtful Dictionary -- dubious, full of doubts, and aimed especially at doubters.

From Paul the Apostle down through C. S. Lewis, W. T. Stace, and Paul Tillich, many a better man is echoed here, and I have also pillaged shamelessly from the miscellaneous utterances of the likes of David H. C. Read, James Muilenburg, Agnes Sanford, and more. I am sure that I have unconsciously cribbed from others too. My gratitude and apologies to them all.


Abraham (See Faith)

Adam And Eve (See Man)


An agnostic is somebody who doesn't know for sure whether there really is a God. That is some. people all of the time and all people some of the time.

There are some agnostics who don't know simply because they've never taken pains to try to find out-like the bear who didn't know what was on the other side of the mountain.

There are other agnostics who have taken many pains. They have climbed over the mountain, and what do you think they saw? Only the other side of the mountain. At least that was all they could be sure of. That faint glimmer on the far horizon could have been just Disneyland.


Sleight-of-hand magic is based on the demonstrable fact that as a rule people see only what they expect to see. Angels are powerful spirits whom God sends into the world to wish us well. Since we don't expect to see them, we don't. An angel spreads its glittering wings over us, and we say things like, "it was one of those days that made you feel good just to be alive," or "I had a hunch everything was going to turn out all right," or "I don't know where I ever found the courage."

Wishful Thinking
A Theological ABC
. Copyright © by Frederick Buechner . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review