web site hit counter Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back

Availability: Ready to download

Frank Schaeffer grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his fat Frank Schaeffer grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. By the age of 23, he had directed two multi-part religious documentaries and had helped instigate the marriage between the American evangelical community and the anti-abortion movement. But as he spoke before thousands in arenas around America, published his own evangelical bestseller, and worked with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jack Kemp, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson, Schaeffer felt alienated, precipitating his own crisis of faith and eventually resulting in his departure. Schaeffer has since become a successful secular author. He was reduced to stealing pork chops from the grocery store in LA, rather than take on any more high-paying evangelical speaking gigs. With its up-close portraits of the leading figures of the American evangelical movement, Crazy for God is a uniquely revealing and powerful memoir, which tells its story with empathy, humor, and bite.


Compare

Frank Schaeffer grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his fat Frank Schaeffer grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. By the age of 23, he had directed two multi-part religious documentaries and had helped instigate the marriage between the American evangelical community and the anti-abortion movement. But as he spoke before thousands in arenas around America, published his own evangelical bestseller, and worked with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jack Kemp, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson, Schaeffer felt alienated, precipitating his own crisis of faith and eventually resulting in his departure. Schaeffer has since become a successful secular author. He was reduced to stealing pork chops from the grocery store in LA, rather than take on any more high-paying evangelical speaking gigs. With its up-close portraits of the leading figures of the American evangelical movement, Crazy for God is a uniquely revealing and powerful memoir, which tells its story with empathy, humor, and bite.

30 review for Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Sharlet

    Reviewed this for the British New Statesman: When, in 1997, Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, decided to pay tribute to the late Francis Schaeffer, the theologian and popular writer must have seemed like an odd choice to those not familiar with the twists and turns of the evangelical world. Most of Schaeffer's work and life was at sharp odds with American-style evangelicalism. Raised in Pennsylvania, Schaeffer lived much of his life as an expatriate in a Swiss c Reviewed this for the British New Statesman: When, in 1997, Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, decided to pay tribute to the late Francis Schaeffer, the theologian and popular writer must have seemed like an odd choice to those not familiar with the twists and turns of the evangelical world. Most of Schaeffer's work and life was at sharp odds with American-style evangelicalism. Raised in Pennsylvania, Schaeffer lived much of his life as an expatriate in a Swiss chalet. His early books in the 1960s struck out against American evangelicalism's know-nothingism. When he lectured in the US, he would discuss the films of Bergman and Fellini on Christian campuses that wouldn't allow screenings of Bambi. He welcomed seekers from all faiths at his Swiss retreat, and didn't worry about the baggage they brought with them. "Backpacking private pharmacies," as Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis, characterises his father's disciples. L'Abri (or "the shelter"), as his father called the home they opened to all-comers, was in the 1960s and 1970s - the height of Schaeffer's intellectual production - a place of blasting music at all hours, drugs, sex and rock'n'roll. When a young Frank Schaeffer happened to meet Jimmy Page in 1969, Led Zeppelin's guitarist pulled a copy of one of Schaeffer Sr's early books, Escape From Reason, from his pocket and declared it "very cool". He said Clapton had given it to him. And yet here Schaeffer was, filling pages in Christianity Today. To make the case for his relevance, the magazine noted the heirs to his legacy, the men who had carried his counter cultural theology into the world: among them Jerry Falwell; Pat Robertson; Randall Terry, founder of the militant anti-abortion crusade Operation Rescue; and Tim LaHaye, founder of the ultra-right Council for National Policy and co-author of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels that have sold 65 million copies around the world. These men claimed Schaeffer not just as a major influence, but as one of the most important thinkers of conservative evangelicalism of the 20th century. Indeed, one of its only "thinkers": Christian right leaders have long been aware of their movement's relative lack of gravitas. "From the mid-1970s until he died," recalls Frank, "Dad was drafted . . . by the Missouri Synod Lutherans, Southern Baptists and other conservative denominations as a kind of intellectual heavy-gun-for-hire." What happened? How did Francis Schaeffer's work go from Jimmy Page's back pocket to the hate-filled pulp of LaHaye, the spittle of Falwell? In 1969, Eric Clapton recorded a song called "Do What You Like" with a band called Blind Faith; almost three decades later, another Schaeffer fan, James Kopp, with Schaeffer's ideas swirling around his head in a toxic stew of bad theology, shot an abortion provider, Dr Barnett Slepian, to death. Who got Schaeffer wrong? The hippies who flocked to L'Abri, or Falwell? Clapton, or Kopp? That question haunts Frank Schaeffer's new memoir of being Francis Schaeffer's son, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. (My pre-publication copy sports a blunter subtitle: How I Helped Found the Religious Right and Ruin America.) It's a brilliant book, a portrait of fundamentalism painted in broad strokes with streaks of nuance, the twinned coming-of-age story of Frank and the Christian right. But this story moves in more than one direction: both coming-of-age narratives are pulled against the current by the tragedy of Francis Schaeffer, a man who let his children, biological and ideo logical, guide him down a path from which he'd spent his whole life struggling to get off. "Fran" Schaeffer grew up working-class in Germantown, Pennsylvania, a short, muscular boy abandoned by his father at age 12, berated by his mother his whole life, and born again in a tent revival at age 17...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    As I made my way though the first two hundred pages of this book, I found the story of Frank's childhood interesting and revealing. But when he began to talk about his involvement in the founding of the religious right, all he and his father did you contribute to something they were truly hesitant about, and his subsequent rejection of all that he had done, I was hooked. Frank is brutally honest, and sometimes very brutal indeed, but you do get the sense that he is giving everyone a fair shake. T As I made my way though the first two hundred pages of this book, I found the story of Frank's childhood interesting and revealing. But when he began to talk about his involvement in the founding of the religious right, all he and his father did you contribute to something they were truly hesitant about, and his subsequent rejection of all that he had done, I was hooked. Frank is brutally honest, and sometimes very brutal indeed, but you do get the sense that he is giving everyone a fair shake. There are aspects of his childhood he is grateful for and there are aspects he came to reject, and he conveys both feelings with skill and clarity. There can be no question that this is Frank's own perspective, and so you can take it for what it is worth, but I think this book is worth a lot and should be examined.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    I had hopes for Frank Schaeffer's memoir for a couple reasons: Like him, I grew up in a "crazy" conservative, evangelical milieu (although his was far more colorful). Second, it was his father's early books which liberated me from that milieu, even though (as his son documents) Francis Schaeffer was sucked back into the worst aspects of the religious right. Frank's father was a genuine paradox – a man in love with art and ideas, the passion of humanism, yet who for complicated personal reasons c I had hopes for Frank Schaeffer's memoir for a couple reasons: Like him, I grew up in a "crazy" conservative, evangelical milieu (although his was far more colorful). Second, it was his father's early books which liberated me from that milieu, even though (as his son documents) Francis Schaeffer was sucked back into the worst aspects of the religious right. Frank's father was a genuine paradox – a man in love with art and ideas, the passion of humanism, yet who for complicated personal reasons could never escape the dead weight of fundamentalist obsessions – and ended up betraying the very ideals for which his early readers valued him most. I'm sure there must be many ex-evangelicals out there who owe their first taste of intellectual freedom to Francis Schaeffer – and who were dismayed to see his weird turn to the anti-intellectual right. This memoir doesn't do the father justice – if only because it's mainly about his son who's not nearly as interesting. To do him justice, Frank comes off as a thoroughly decent guy - and as readers of Portofino know – occasionally a very funny writer. His memoir is brave, a bit sad, and often boring (particularly when he quotes verbatim the memories of peripheral characters). Hard not to appreciate his energy and sincerity, though. So I land in the middle: 3 stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    I don't remember why I happened to read this book (or L'Abri, by Frank's mother Edith Schaeffer) but it was fascinating to read them together; they are two versions of the same events, from a mother and a son. And both books are interesting from their own perspective. I don't remember why I happened to read this book (or L'Abri, by Frank's mother Edith Schaeffer) but it was fascinating to read them together; they are two versions of the same events, from a mother and a son. And both books are interesting from their own perspective.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Maybe you can judge a book by its cover; or at least its title. Yes, Frank Schaeffer is long winded and doesn’t know when to stop writing. As a former evangelical I was very interested in this book since I also left the movement and had to deal with family members who still do not agree with my decision. I thought Schaeffer, being a pastor’s son, might have stories even crazier than my own. My need for drama was not satisfied. I still feel that I have even bigger “fish” stories than the ones Sch Maybe you can judge a book by its cover; or at least its title. Yes, Frank Schaeffer is long winded and doesn’t know when to stop writing. As a former evangelical I was very interested in this book since I also left the movement and had to deal with family members who still do not agree with my decision. I thought Schaeffer, being a pastor’s son, might have stories even crazier than my own. My need for drama was not satisfied. I still feel that I have even bigger “fish” stories than the ones Schaeffer relates, and there were only a few pages of low down dirt on the big name evangelical leaders. Unfortunately, I had to wade through pages upon pages of extraneous material just to get to the little bit of juice. Schaeffer loves adjectives, but to his readers’ dissatisfaction he can’t ever find one he is satisfied with so he just uses them all. I don’t know who his editor is, but he/she works hard to earn that salary. Or maybe not. The book really could have been condensed down to 150 pages if redundant material had been cut. I must compliment Mr. Schaeffer however. After having very little formal education it is an amazing feat to become a published author. He has overcome much to get to where he is now so maybe some of his grammatical blunders and run-on sentences are permissible. Looking past these, the book did give me a clear view of how much the evangelical world has changed. If I had grown up when Schaeffer did, I would not be nearly as ashamed to have belonged to this movement as I am now. There has been a snowball effect. Although I did gain a small amount of insight, Schaeffer's writing is similar to the ranting of a teenage girl. He is still too emotionally affected by it all to give the world a clear picture of the issues that anger him. Just like a fifteen year old girl who has recently been dumped by her boyfriend, Schaeffer has not yet distanced himself emotionally and feels the need to include every little detail of his life that is interesting to him. While the premise of the book is a good one, I really would not recommend it to anyone. But if you are curious, read from page 300 on (I have the hardback edition). Those last 15 chapters contain most of what Schaeffer is trying to say, and you won’t feel that you have missed out on anything.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Felicia J.

    Frank Schaffer’s sometimes fascinating, but ultimately frustrating, memoir never delivers on the promise of its subtitle, “How I .. helped found the religious right, and lived to take all (or almost all) of it back.” In fact, Crazy for God suffers from an almost complete lack of context. The listener doesn’t learn much about how the religious right formed or how it influenced Republican politics, or anything about the movement’s champions beyond Schaffer’s terse judgments of them. (James Dobson i Frank Schaffer’s sometimes fascinating, but ultimately frustrating, memoir never delivers on the promise of its subtitle, “How I .. helped found the religious right, and lived to take all (or almost all) of it back.” In fact, Crazy for God suffers from an almost complete lack of context. The listener doesn’t learn much about how the religious right formed or how it influenced Republican politics, or anything about the movement’s champions beyond Schaffer’s terse judgments of them. (James Dobson is power hungry; Billy Graham just plain weird.) Instead, Schaffer paints a vague picture of his intellectual father as an early “culture warrior” – determined to take art, music and philosophy back from the secularists and root it firmly in a Christian worldview. Touring the United States to lecture and to screen their documentary series, father and son light a spark beneath the evangelicals who will create the Christian Right – but it takes nearly two-thirds of the book, a meandering journey through Schaffer’s childhood and teenage years, to get there. Most of the memoir centers on Schaffer’s childhood growing up in L’Abri, the Christian retreat center his parents founded in Switzerland. Francis and Edith Schaffer worked to change the image of Christianity as “dumbed down” by offering a place for young seekers to discuss life’s big questions in a cultured, intellectual environment. Unfortunately, doing the all-consuming “Lord’s work” left them with little time to raise their youngest child and only son. (When they thought to send him to an English boarding school, young Frankie could barely read or write, a deficiency complicated by his undiagnosed dyslexia.) Schaffer abandons a narrative arc for a stream-of-consciousness portrayal of his family, warts and all. His father is revealed as an introverted, passionate thinker and lover of art and music, who chafed at a life filled with European lecture tours and discussing theology with L’Abri students over the dinner table. He suffered bouts of deep depression and all-consuming rage. His mother emerges as a snob working to win the “right sort” of cultural elites to Jesus and a practiced martyr who let everyone know she could out-work and out-pray them all. She competed endlessly with her husband to be seen as the better thinker, writer and Christian. Schaffer’s childhood recollections jump haphazardly between topics such as his parents’ marital troubles, family vacations in Italy and the Swiss Alps, his much-older sisters’ early efforts to educate him, and later, his obsession with sex and the attractive women staying at L’Abri. Taken individually, some of the chapters are memorable, offering stunning descriptions of the beautiful valley where L’Abri was located and tidbits of humor, wisdom or insight. But as one chapter after another continued to describe Schaffer’s youth, I started glancing at the time left in the book, wondering when he would get on with the story. Despite Schaffer’s unflinching portrayal of his parents’ faults, I never felt I knew these people. Why did they devote their lives to L’Abri, when Schaffer asserts they were ill-suited to such a lifestyle? (Both would seemingly have been much happier as college professors teaching about art or music.) Why did Schaffer himself emerge in his 20s as an anti-abortion crusader and uncompromising evangelical firebrand, when his family’s Christian work left him feeling so odd and alienated as a child? He doesn’t offer any answers. He shares scandalous tidbits (such as his mother telling him, when he was quite young, she had to travel with her husband to all his lectures because he expected sex every night) but doesn’t reveal enough about their motivations or why they held such cherished beliefs. Again, his memories lack any context to help the listener make sense of this odd family. By the time Schaffer, an ambitious young filmmaker, persuades his father to denounce abortion in their first Christian film series, the payoff isn’t worth slogging through the book’s first two parts. After taking so much time to ruminate on his childhood, Schaffer must rush the rest of the story along. It feels almost like a “tell all” for former evangelical Christians, people already familiar with the religious right and its leaders who just want to hear the salacious details. Those of us who are outsiders looking in, hoping to gain some insight on the movement, are left with nothing new. It’s always a bad sign when I search Wikipedia for information that should have been in the book. I’ve recently become fascinated with the memoirs of people leaving extreme religious movements, but I will have to look elsewhere for a solid insider's account of the Christian right. Schaffer’s book offered a lot of unorganized details but not much substance.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I heard Frank Schaeffer interviewed by Terry Gross and went right out and got this book at the library. I was intrigued to find out how someone who had been a right-wing Christian could throw it all out. I was also intrigued because he grew up in a Christian community in Switzerland called L'Abri, which one of my brothers visited around 1980. Schaeffer is a very good writer, and he makes his memories of growing up easy to "see" and "feel." He's entertaining. I get the feeling that he's both full I heard Frank Schaeffer interviewed by Terry Gross and went right out and got this book at the library. I was intrigued to find out how someone who had been a right-wing Christian could throw it all out. I was also intrigued because he grew up in a Christian community in Switzerland called L'Abri, which one of my brothers visited around 1980. Schaeffer is a very good writer, and he makes his memories of growing up easy to "see" and "feel." He's entertaining. I get the feeling that he's both full of himself and aware of that fact, and in the end, wishing he were more humble.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Feeling guilty about enjoying this...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian Griffith

    Schaeffer's biography is painfully honest, both about his personal life and his involvement with America's religious right movement in the 70s and 80s. Most of the book concerns his youth, his generous but driven parents, and his own journey as an artist. The political right-wing movement forms a relatively minor portion of his life. Through it all, Schaeffer faces his own failings and delusions unflinchingly -- sometimes it is hilarious. At one point he writes "Honesty is the only thing that is Schaeffer's biography is painfully honest, both about his personal life and his involvement with America's religious right movement in the 70s and 80s. Most of the book concerns his youth, his generous but driven parents, and his own journey as an artist. The political right-wing movement forms a relatively minor portion of his life. Through it all, Schaeffer faces his own failings and delusions unflinchingly -- sometimes it is hilarious. At one point he writes "Honesty is the only thing that is satisfying about writing." And he proceeds with such disarming honesty as to give a clear window, not just on his personal trials and errors struggles soul, but on a whole era of American history.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bart Breen

    Evangelical Sainthood Challenged Make no mistake about it, Evangelicalism very much has a list of patron saints who are appealed to as authoritative and in many cases such an appeal to authority is considered to settle most any matter that can be brought up. Two in particular who meet this criteria are C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, both of whom, ironically, would likely not have been particularly welcome personally in many actual evangelical fellowships given some of their personal habits and Evangelical Sainthood Challenged Make no mistake about it, Evangelicalism very much has a list of patron saints who are appealed to as authoritative and in many cases such an appeal to authority is considered to settle most any matter that can be brought up. Two in particular who meet this criteria are C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, both of whom, ironically, would likely not have been particularly welcome personally in many actual evangelical fellowships given some of their personal habits and beliefs. Nevertheless, it's particularly convenient that both of them are dead and therefore can be molded into whatever image is required by those who appreciate the intellectual and academic aura that they can provide for an evangelical movement that is desperate for such validation. There can be some difficulty with that approach however. For one thing, family and friends exist who if they are not a part of or invested personally in the need to maintain that facade, may come along and drop the curtain. When that happens the person pointing out that the emperor has no clothes can be subjected to a great deal of vitriol from the faithful. Those who don't take the offensive against them will quietly just point out that that person is "obviously" very bitter and not worthy of attention. What to do then with Frank Schaeffer's book which lays bare some very uncomfortable elements about his famous parents Francis and Edith Schaeffer? To add injury to insult, Frank includes in his expose some pretty stark evaluations of other evangelical icons such as Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and James Dobson. Reading this book as someone who has been deeply engaged since the age of 12 in the world of evangelicalism as a member of evangelical churches, a student at a major Christian university, a pastor and worker within evangelical churches and who now describes himself as post-evangelical, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, clearly there is a significant amount of pain that I observed in the words and experience of Frank Schaeffer that I identified with. I can recount examples of hypocrisy, political manipulation, hucksterism etc. in my past as well and I know for a fact that evangelicalism has succumbed in many ways to a series of personality cults set up around many of the people that Schaeffer mentions. In fact, Frank himself was a part of my serial progression as I read some of his earlier books and heard him speak in the 1980s. Frank's pain comes through, but this book is more than his sitting back and tossing sour grapes upon his past. Frank is not any gentler on himself and much of this book comes across as a mea culpa for his own involvement in what he believes happened to his father and mother and also how he capitalized upon it personally. This will be a very difficult book to read for those who have elevated the Schaeffers to sainthood and who have some of their own identity staked to their materials. The frankness of the material, some of the language used and the events described come across in some ways as almost designed to shock and offend those whose gentler natures are not used to this type of material. It's also clear, and owned up to within the book itself by Schaeffer, that he is still conflicted and experiencing some hurt and pain over many elements of his past. It seems especially clear that his relationship with his mother is strained and that he views his father, for all his own faults, as the more sympathetic figure between his parents. What impressed me however and was a fitting end to the book was Frank's sharing of his own journey back to faith in the context of the Greek Orthodox Church. This will no doubt for many within Evangelicalism be the proverbial "last straw" but I found it gave some nice rounding out and to me made it clear that whatever else Frank may be seeking to accomplish with this book, it's not simply a diatribe or lashing out to his difficult past in dancing with the extreme right wing of evangelicalism. All in all, I'm glad I read this book. I was not particularly surprised or offended by the revelations Frank has as to the upper echelons of the evangelical pecking order of modern day "emperor worship." I've seen it myself not only on the broad scale but also the local church level in some of the contexts I've lived and worked in. I've also been a part of what I now reject and have my own mea culpas to share and lament. But there is much here that needs to be read and heeded by those who have molded their evangelical world into a Utopian reality and who meet these types of challenges with denial and outright anger. I'm glad it's here for those who are willing to read and see some of the more seamy side and the dark underbelly of a movement that is about more than it says for itself. 4 stars. bart breen

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I haltingly recommend this book, and so far only to two people (adults) on my goodreads list! It's somewhat shocking due to brutal honesty, but I was reading it to gain perspective, and that I did. The insights I consider invaluable, and only serve to bolster a growing conviction that there are no perfect people, families, marriages, relationships, or churches. Besides that, Frank Schaeffer aptly uncovers the unlikely origin of so much of what we take for granted today as the Christian's evangel I haltingly recommend this book, and so far only to two people (adults) on my goodreads list! It's somewhat shocking due to brutal honesty, but I was reading it to gain perspective, and that I did. The insights I consider invaluable, and only serve to bolster a growing conviction that there are no perfect people, families, marriages, relationships, or churches. Besides that, Frank Schaeffer aptly uncovers the unlikely origin of so much of what we take for granted today as the Christian's evangelical conservative mindset, how some parts of it distilled into the homeschooling movement, and other parts into our political ideas. These things were my Christian inheritance as a child of the 60's, but who knew so much of it started in Switerland? Additionally, there are incredible lessons in grace to be learned from the mission at LaBrie, Switzerland, lessons I need to practice in my own home. Not everything that went on there is worthy of repeating, but as said previously, there are no perfect churches-only a perfect Savior.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Well-written but mean-spirited memoir by the son of Francis Schaeffer... he takes a number of potshots at evangelical & fundamentalist figures without really substantiating his claims - or writing them off based on one incident. Oddly enough, it's not his "loss" of faith that bothers me about the book - those parts seem to be honestly & forthrightly told. It's the "I love my parents but let's see if I can find more ways to besmirch their memories & ministry" attitude - and the gleefulness with w Well-written but mean-spirited memoir by the son of Francis Schaeffer... he takes a number of potshots at evangelical & fundamentalist figures without really substantiating his claims - or writing them off based on one incident. Oddly enough, it's not his "loss" of faith that bothers me about the book - those parts seem to be honestly & forthrightly told. It's the "I love my parents but let's see if I can find more ways to besmirch their memories & ministry" attitude - and the gleefulness with which he shares some of his stories. As other reviewers have noted, he seems to be obsessed with sex & likes using foul language purely for shock value. Sigh. I finished the book and felt like I needed a shower.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This is a thought-provoking memoir that helps shed some light on how the major social/moral issues dividing us today became such "culture war" fodder. (Hint: Not only are these political battles relatively recent, but many of their "champions" are rather cynical folks using the topics as a launching pad to fame.) Schaeffer once made broad, sweeping political statements, never saw grey areas, and demonized anyone he saw as liberal or secular. Even though he remains a man of faith, today, his view This is a thought-provoking memoir that helps shed some light on how the major social/moral issues dividing us today became such "culture war" fodder. (Hint: Not only are these political battles relatively recent, but many of their "champions" are rather cynical folks using the topics as a launching pad to fame.) Schaeffer once made broad, sweeping political statements, never saw grey areas, and demonized anyone he saw as liberal or secular. Even though he remains a man of faith, today, his views have become much more nuanced, and some, he has changed entirely. These days, he advances his opinions in a thoughtful, rational manner, with supporting evidence, and I respect that. However, only the second part really deals with the author's experiences with the founders of what would be known as the "Religious Right." The first half of the book recounts his growing up and coming of age in detail, and while interesting, may not feel like the book you were expecting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carol Merritt

    It's a really interesting book, an honest insider reflecting on a significant religious/political movement. It's awfully funny at times, a bit of an evangelical kiss-and-tell, and I marveled how Schaeffer could remember what each woman was wearing 30+ years ago. But, there are some poignant struggles, too. I was touched by his admiration for his dad, and I felt that his love for his mom came through, along with the (understandable) irritation. I appreciate that Frank Schaeffer told his story. It' It's a really interesting book, an honest insider reflecting on a significant religious/political movement. It's awfully funny at times, a bit of an evangelical kiss-and-tell, and I marveled how Schaeffer could remember what each woman was wearing 30+ years ago. But, there are some poignant struggles, too. I was touched by his admiration for his dad, and I felt that his love for his mom came through, along with the (understandable) irritation. I appreciate that Frank Schaeffer told his story. It's an important piece of history. But more than that, it's written by someone who struggles, and doesn't mind letting his readers in on his internal wrestling. Leaving evangelicalism is not an easy thing for anyone to do, and I appreciate the fact that Frank Schaeffer had the courage to do it, and strength to tell us about it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elf

    A second read is always a good thing. It was on my second read that I figured out that this is truly a brilliant book by an insider of the corrupt American Evangelical scene who is also an incisive writer. This is a mandatory textbook for Evangelicals in India who lick the arses of their white, imperial, neo-colonial masters across the sea for giving them an 'anchor' ideology and the support of the almighty dollar on how to or how not to follow Yeshua the Messiah, depending on how you read it! Th A second read is always a good thing. It was on my second read that I figured out that this is truly a brilliant book by an insider of the corrupt American Evangelical scene who is also an incisive writer. This is a mandatory textbook for Evangelicals in India who lick the arses of their white, imperial, neo-colonial masters across the sea for giving them an 'anchor' ideology and the support of the almighty dollar on how to or how not to follow Yeshua the Messiah, depending on how you read it! This is the story of an honest child of the die-hard American Evangelical parents and proselytisers, Francis and Edith Schaeffer who founded the L'Abri community in Switzerland, and influenced the lives of tens of thousands of youth (for the better) and American Evangelicals over time (for the worse). “Professional proselytizers were raising me: sweet, sincere—but preoccupied—proselytizers”, confesses Frank. Yeah, Francis Schaeffer had a hold of me too from the late 70s to the 90s during the Evangelical phase of my life. He seemed erudite and intellectual, acknowledging the firestorm critique of existing systems in the USA and elsewhere because of the 60s revolution(s) and deeply concerned about the values that were in free-fall and cutting loose from so-called Christian absolutes. L'Abri as an accepting community and a fundamentalist Christ-centred hermeneutic laced with genuine compassion were the solution the Schaeffers offered the 'lost sheep' and Frank grew up in this atmosphere. Frank acknowledges his mother Edith's deep influence over his life and is grateful for his father's life too, especially his transformed self during his last cancer-stricken days. Francis suffered from depression and had an angry, abusive violent side that Edith endured. She was a praying super-mom. Frank was dyslexic and is an example of the sort of confused wonkiness embodied in kids homeschooled by Evangelicals and who are especially the offspring of missionaries. The good thing about the latter is they can enjoy the advantages of Evangelical nepotism, becoming heir to The Work and monies of their fathers (think, Franklin Graham!). Frank was blessed because his dyslexia combined with a curious, questioning mind gained him penetrating insights into the dark side of Evangelicalism which has now ripened and manifested itself as the Evangelical Right in America. Frank takes us on a humorous and sarcastic ride through his own life and that of his parents whom he dubs as 'Evangelical royalty'. He is careful to list all the good that they did in their life in spite of their blind and dark sides. For instance, his father was not exactly a Calvinist zombie. L'Abri was welcoming to unwed young women, pot smokers, gays, those ravaged by drugs and sexual issues, even some mentally unstable people, and provided them with short periods of study in community during which they could in some way be rehabilitated through a certain authentic encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is, though the Schaeffers had their ideological idiosyncrasies, they ultimately demonstrated the goodness and love of Christ to thousands, transforming their lives. In this book though, Frank is unafraid to show the dirty underbelly of the enterprise. He is part of a family that is part crazed because of Evangelical beliefs and practices. For instance, aunt Janet joins the Closed Plymouth Brethren and stops sleeping with her pagan husband or eating with her pagan children. In L'Abri too, he saw this principle of Us Evangelicals vs Them Pagans played out resulting in his father excommunicating his son-in-law from the core of The Work towards the end of his life when he had regressed into a virulent form of right-wing Evangelicalism. The Schaeffers were earlier into the business of 'repairing the image of fundamentalism'. So they delved into books, art, theatre, dance and philosophy and hoped to bring up a generation of fundamentalist Evangelicals familiar with 'culture' who could engage with their liberal humanist pagan detractors, The Enemy. L'Abri thus spawned the likes of Os Guinness, Michael Card, John Whitehead and others who saw that apologetics was not about aggressive debate and crushing a doubter or seeker a la Ravi Zacharias and his acolytes, but a mode of intelligent, sensitive discussion that involves mutual respect and engagement with the worldview of the 'Other'. The trademark method of The Work was combining Evangelical theology, scripture and culture, an approach well appropriated by contemporary successful pastors and proselytisers like Timothy Keller. What is truly beautiful about the book is that Frank realises that a lot of Evangelical fundamentalist positioning is hogwash and not logically or intellectually convincing for a perceptive mind, and that another lot of it is about lies, politics, power, and the control of dumb American Evangelicals by hordes of smart vacuum-cleaner salesmen-pastors and preachers like Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jack Kemp, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson who have subverted democratic America and its Constitution, thanks also in large to the seminal contributions of both Francis Schaeffer and Frank Schaeffer. They built the Religious Right in America brick by brick and this book is both Frank's confessional and act of redemption. Why I respect Frank Schaeffer is because he abandoned it all, got chrismated in the Greek Orthodox Church, and now considers himself 'an atheist who believes in God' whilst praying to Jesus when in confusion or darkness. He finds that he cannot escape or entirely negate a certain 'habit of faith' inculcated in him by his mother and his experiences at L'Abri. "Mom won." The book is a romp through his childhood, the portraits he draws of his family, his infirmities, love for skiing and the arts like painting, writing, film-making, and music fostered by his parents, his adolescent experiences of mutual masturbation and, later, sex and drugs and rock and roll, the spearheading of the pro-life movement following the Roe vs Wade verdict along with the Catholics, aiding and abetting the powerful scum of Evangelicalism to turn America into its present-day fascistic and racist form, the ensuing disgust and, finally, his escape from the deliberate sins of Evangelicalism into a space of Self-actualisation through his seed-faith in Jesus. I'd like to end this review by citing some of Frank's insights into the nature of fundamentalism and especially their prayer formula that grabbed me or had me rolling in fits of laughter. “Fundamentalists never can just disagree. The person they fall out with is not only on the wrong side of an issue; they are on the wrong side of God.” (Eg; the falling out between Carl McIntyre and Francis Schaeffer). “A church split builds self-righteousness into the fabric of every new splinter group, whose only reason for existence is that they decide they are more moral and pure than their brethren.” (Eg; “The Puritans left England because they believed they were more enlightened than members of the Church of England.”) “It is about being better than one’s evil opponent. We don’t just disagree, we demonize the “other.” And we don’t compromise...At times it seemed that only God knew how important we were, how right, how pure. But isolation and rejection by “The World” only confirmed our self-importance...We were busy judging everyone’s spiritual state.” “There was also an unintended message that I picked up, which has shaped my life: we were outsiders doing everything we could to be mistaken for insiders, so that we could be accepted by the insiders and then convert them to being outsiders, like us, until everyone became an outsider and therefore we got to be insiders forever!” “A non-Christian boyfriend or unbelieving girlfriend was the worst lure to backsliding.” “The most ridiculous thing in the world is a PhD in theology, an oxymoron if one ever existed.” “Since presumably my parents believed that God already had correct theology, and didn’t need instruction, it was clear that they were praying AT the person with them, not TO God... the prayers were often a not-so-subtle vehicle for sermons... Prayer was a way to remind God not to let his attention wander or forget that we, and we only, really understood what he was supposed to be doing. So we prayed AT him, too.” “The logic of those prayers, if one was reading between the lines, was something like this: “Dear Heavenly Father, in Your Word You say that when two or three are gathered together, You will be in the midst of them. Well, we’re gathered here, so do what we’re telling You to do because we have You over a barrel and can quote Your own book back at you! And in case You’re thinking of weaseling out of this deal, we claim Your promises, and because You can’t break any of those since You wrote it all in the Bible, You’ll do what we say, and “You’ll do it NOW! Amen!” “Theologically speaking, we believed in an absolutely powerful omnipotent and sovereign Lord. But in practice, our God had to be begged and encouraged to carry out the simplest tasks.” All in all, I highly recommend this book, chockfull of delightful characters, dear familial memories, community dynamics, crucial Evangelical and political history, quick sketches of Evangelical and other personalities, humour, sarcasm and scepticism, and a melting down ultimately of the Golden Calf of Fundamentalist Evangelicalism by the gifted, sensitive and perceptive scion of one of its greatest leaders, Francis Schaeffer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Lennon

    Fascinating, informative, chilling, engaging, and disturbing, this memoir is both multi-layered and a wild ride, with many twists and turns, often unresolved issues, and a realistic portrayal about how complex a life, any life, can be. In this case, Schaeffer lets us into the evolution and then abrupt turn of a set of religious principles set by his parents that turned into a caccooning of their son, a caccoon that it took decades to emerge from. If anything, this book demonstrates how parents, Fascinating, informative, chilling, engaging, and disturbing, this memoir is both multi-layered and a wild ride, with many twists and turns, often unresolved issues, and a realistic portrayal about how complex a life, any life, can be. In this case, Schaeffer lets us into the evolution and then abrupt turn of a set of religious principles set by his parents that turned into a caccooning of their son, a caccoon that it took decades to emerge from. If anything, this book demonstrates how parents, belief systems, and their way of life affect the choices and self-perception of their children. Some become locked up and others find a new path. The chilling part of this book is its depiction of how vulnerable we can be to religiosity, how much people crave answers to the unanswerable, the need to belong to a community of like thinkers, the lure of right-and-wrong rules to avoid independent thinking, and the desire for influence, fame, power, wealth, and affiliation. It's a book about how easy and tempting it is to prostitute the purity of the search for answers in order for political gain. This memoir is just one of the many that could be written by those who have also drunk the Kool-Aid. The book is a wonderful example of the value and impact of the memoir a a genre, which Schaeffer differentiates neatly from biography because it is about perceptions and not chronology. He has an engaging style, an relatively easy way of moving between stages in his life, and a readable tone even though at times I felt details were over done and tangled up. In all it was a worthwhile read and a open one with no apparent holes barred.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nelleke Plouffe

    As a "Crazy for God" evangelical, Calvinist person myself, I did not expect to appreciate this book as much as I did. I have always had great respect for Francis and Edith Schaeffer and their work, and this book really didn't take away from that for me. It revealed that they were human and made mistakes and had blind spots, serious ones that sometimes resulted in harm to people they loved. This book had me thinking long and deeply about the dangers of putting people up on a pedestal, about the n As a "Crazy for God" evangelical, Calvinist person myself, I did not expect to appreciate this book as much as I did. I have always had great respect for Francis and Edith Schaeffer and their work, and this book really didn't take away from that for me. It revealed that they were human and made mistakes and had blind spots, serious ones that sometimes resulted in harm to people they loved. This book had me thinking long and deeply about the dangers of putting people up on a pedestal, about the need for humility, and about personality and how our strongest traits are also often the ones that trip us up. I found the first part of the book a strange and inconsistent mixture of bitterness and affection, judgment and generosity. In the end, though, I was disarmed by Schaeffer's honesty about the subjectiveness of his own perspective. I appreciated that he occasionally included others' perspectives about the same events without comment. His sisters' and his daughter's words were particularly insightful. My three stars are not so much to say "This is a great book" as to say that I found it worth reading for the ideas it provoked. I know many evangelicals like me would be offended by things in this book (as I was at times), and yet there are ideas here that we need to think about and discuss.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    favorite quote.... “The public image of the leaders of the religious right I met with so many times also contrasted with who they really were. In public, they maintained an image that was usually quite smooth. In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to Pat Robertson, who wo favorite quote.... “The public image of the leaders of the religious right I met with so many times also contrasted with who they really were. In public, they maintained an image that was usually quite smooth. In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to Pat Robertson, who would have a hard time finding work in any job where hearing voices is not a requirement.” Reading some of the reviews below, I can understand the frustration from some readers. The author hints at certain things about his parents----his father beating his wife, the mother driving one of the daughters into mental illness, intellectual dishonesty on the part of the father in what he presented to readers and audiences----but refuses to go into detail. The author also stops short of explaining what he actually believes today, short of leaving the Moral Majority.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Well, I finally finished this book - 1 week shy of a full year (!!) I have been reading it in between library books. Let the time it took not reflect the enjoyment I had. I started it not long after I finished Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal. So I had had my fill of nauseating evangelical behavior. Thus, I wasn't sure how I would take to this story. I was very pleasantly surprised. I actually found his family quite lovable. Even though he became disillusioned with the religious right, it se Well, I finally finished this book - 1 week shy of a full year (!!) I have been reading it in between library books. Let the time it took not reflect the enjoyment I had. I started it not long after I finished Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal. So I had had my fill of nauseating evangelical behavior. Thus, I wasn't sure how I would take to this story. I was very pleasantly surprised. I actually found his family quite lovable. Even though he became disillusioned with the religious right, it seemed to me that his family was apart from all that. They were overly devoted to their religion, but it seemed they never became overly judgmental and intolerant. Also, Mr Schaeffer has a very nice writing style. so much so, I am interested in reading more from him.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    I enjoyed reading about Frank Schaeffer's journey as he examines both his faith and upbringing in a very right wing evangelical family. I enjoyed his comments and openness about his family and personal struggles. He can come across at times very bitter, but this is to be expected and is part of his struggle. I was most interested as to the effects all of this had on his own family and the steps he was willing to take to build a relationship with his children. I enjoyed reading about Frank Schaeffer's journey as he examines both his faith and upbringing in a very right wing evangelical family. I enjoyed his comments and openness about his family and personal struggles. He can come across at times very bitter, but this is to be expected and is part of his struggle. I was most interested as to the effects all of this had on his own family and the steps he was willing to take to build a relationship with his children.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Sullivan

    Frank Schaeffer has grown. When he was young and immature, he knew everything. After growing up and experiencing life and love, he acknowledges that he doesn't know everything, and he's cool with that. A remarkable journey story by a remarkable man, thinker, and artist. Frank Schaeffer has grown. When he was young and immature, he knew everything. After growing up and experiencing life and love, he acknowledges that he doesn't know everything, and he's cool with that. A remarkable journey story by a remarkable man, thinker, and artist.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    “There is no way to write the absolute truth about any family, much less my family.” Francis and Edith Schaeffer and the L’Abri mission they founded in rural Switzerland are huge names in Evangelical Christian history, even though in some ways the family was beyond the pale: they were theologically fundamentalist, yes, but they were sophisticated, cultured intellectuals – more European than American in outlook, really – and didn’t have the sexual hang-ups that have so plagued the American Church “There is no way to write the absolute truth about any family, much less my family.” Francis and Edith Schaeffer and the L’Abri mission they founded in rural Switzerland are huge names in Evangelical Christian history, even though in some ways the family was beyond the pale: they were theologically fundamentalist, yes, but they were sophisticated, cultured intellectuals – more European than American in outlook, really – and didn’t have the sexual hang-ups that have so plagued the American Church. Edith was very open about sex to her children (a major focus of the author’s later memoir, Sex, Mom, and God), L’Abri tolerated homosexuality if perhaps in a don’t-ask-don’t tell sort of way, and when Frank impregnated his girlfriend as a teenager in 1970 it wasn’t seen as the end of the world. (Remarkably, he and Genie have been married ever since.) For the most part, this gives a traditional chronological tour through Frank’s life – his idyllic childhood in a Swiss village, the youngest in a family with three much older sisters; an operation for polio; boarding school in England; his stalled painting and film directing careers; an unexpectedly early introduction to fatherhood; and the strange sequence of events that led to him and his father being talked into becoming poster boys for the anti-abortion movement. They created two documentary series on history and culture, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, that posited Christianity as the basis of Western culture and democracy and played on fears of humanism and a secular society eroding the freedoms and values Americans hold dear. Schaeffer isn’t afraid to name names, though I imagine that by 2007, when this was published, he was too low-profile for any of these figures to care what he had to say: “The public image of the leaders of the religious right I met with so many times also contrasted with who they really were. In public, they maintained an image that was usually quite smooth. In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to Pat Robertson, who would have a hard time finding work in any job where hearing voices is not a requirement.” While the book is on the long side and the contributions from others (family members, collaborators, etc.) could be better integrated rather than just inserted as letters/e-mails, my interest in the religious history propelled me along. Even if you’re not particularly interested in the Evangelical movement, the first five-eighths is an intriguing family memoir thanks to his parents’ volatile relationship and all the comings and goings at L’Abri. (An interesting footnote: after all this was over, Schaeffer joined the Orthodox Church in 1990.) Favorite lines: “We were earnest and my parents were sincere. Dad had a vicious temper. Mom was a high-powered nut. But so what? Given the range of human suffering, I had a golden childhood.” “I have sometimes wondered, when my parents ‘converted’ people, if those people really accepted Christ, or if they had just fallen under the spell of my energetic and attractive parents.” “The superspiritual pietistic grid through which Mom saw life was a heavy load for her children to bear.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    One of the things I most enjoy in reading any book, it to be taken into a world I have never experienced. For an autobiography to take me into a new world is a double achievement. Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God, achieves this and more. I came to this book hoping to learn about a religious world that was unknown to me. I finished with a better appreciation for more than just the theology of the evangelical. Who knew that American Evangelicals would ever think of sending a mission into Switzerland One of the things I most enjoy in reading any book, it to be taken into a world I have never experienced. For an autobiography to take me into a new world is a double achievement. Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God, achieves this and more. I came to this book hoping to learn about a religious world that was unknown to me. I finished with a better appreciation for more than just the theology of the evangelical. Who knew that American Evangelicals would ever think of sending a mission into Switzerland? Switzerland? Really? One of the most conservative peoples in Europe, at last hearing more than majority Christian and some bright mind sends them a Christian ministry. One cannot help but think of Ambrose Bierce writing in the 19th century that America would benefit more from the presence of Chinese missionaries than the squads of American believers could achieve there. Young Frank Schaeffer would have one of the most unique and unlikely experiences of any child of the post WWII generation. His is a living example of truth being stranger than fiction. The extremes he would experience would take him through extreme changes and extreme places before allowing him to find his own truth. An autobiography wherein you share author's odyssey to his truth is another sign of good writing. This opens a first point. Too many people will come to this book expecting confirmation of their needs and opinions. In the case of any book with any religious connection this will mean that there will be a limited tolerance for any narrative that is not slavishly pro or anti religion, depending on the preferences of the reader. Given the connection between the Schaeffer's name and evangelical beliefs too many extremes will want to slave Frank's story to a preconceived narrative. The sub-title to this book is: "How I Grew up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost all) of it Back." Clearly this is Frank Schaeffer's personal narrative, intended to serve his purposes and you the reader are forewarned to take his story as he writes it, not as you want it to be written. The elder Schaeffer, as described by his son was fonder of a religious heaven, L'Abri. One of the most important beliefs of L'Abri was that all of us are sinners and all sins are wrong and therefore trying to create distinctions between sinners as more or less wrong is a waste of time. Functionally, this meant that the Schaeffer's provided time and a place for people to heal, to learn and to find the better person they could be. Visitors to The home Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith would make for visitors was a good place doing good work. The home they made for their children was more complex and not in always `good'. Frank would be ignored to the point that his sister, Susan would be first to notice that he had not learned to read and would help him get sent to his first formal schooling at age ten. Later his parents would again be so unaware of him that he could freely engage in drugs and sex with members of what was for others a rigorously Christian retreat. Alternately he would share long walks and conversations with his father that would enable the younger Schaeffer to revere his father and so follow his father's philosophy that together they would serve a critical role in organizing and energizing America's religious right. Meantime his father was a manic depressive capable of violence towards his passive aggressive but devoted and loving wife. All of the Schaeffer children would inherit some variation of their father's metal issues and all would have to undergo dark times before science would reach a point of being able to help them deal with their individual demons. Many who will review this book will speak of egotism of self-absorption. That is the essence of autobiography. Try to imagine a person sustaining a 400 page book about a topic that bores them. Others will complain that he is insufficiently respectful when dealing with the politics and personalities of America's Religious Right. It is his honest opinion that his father was the best of the movement and the shortcoming of too many of the others was beyond his ability to excuse. Others will use this conclusion to challenge Frank for his failure to reject all things religious, or at least fundamentalist. This is Frank's story and his opinion, you need not agree; just respect his right to find a peace that works for him and his. At least give his case a fair hearing. As a reader you are in his book. As a volunteer you may leave it anytime, as long as you stay, pay attention. Frank Schaeffer is a man who has lived a convoluted life. In Crazy for God, he will admit to missteps. He will have to draw the best from and overcome the worst of his strange upbringing and ultimately to overcome himself. There is much here for you the reader to think about, wrestle over and celebrate. Come into this book willing to follow the writer. He is not here to confirm your beliefs, but to relate how he came to his.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David L.

    The Schaeffers loomed large back when I was growing up a fundamentalist, home-schooled, son-of-a-preacher Baptist. Frank Schaeffer's father Francis was a huge influence on my parents and on most of the people around us in church and homeschooling circles. When I was eighteen, I read Francis Schaeffer's theological trilogy over three consecutive days on a Greyhound bus. Schaeffer the younger's memoir helps to explain why his father's theology both dovetailed with Right-wing Christianity and offere The Schaeffers loomed large back when I was growing up a fundamentalist, home-schooled, son-of-a-preacher Baptist. Frank Schaeffer's father Francis was a huge influence on my parents and on most of the people around us in church and homeschooling circles. When I was eighteen, I read Francis Schaeffer's theological trilogy over three consecutive days on a Greyhound bus. Schaeffer the younger's memoir helps to explain why his father's theology both dovetailed with Right-wing Christianity and offered a haven of sorts for those of us within Right-wing Christendom who didn't really dovetail with it ourselves. In Frank's telling, his parents' L'Abri mission in Switzerland was alienated from American, pietistic, hellfire Christianity. The Schaeffers weren't very interested in sexual politics. They despised the judgmental American preachers who sent unwed, pregnant daughters to L'Abri to keep them out of sight of their home congregations. They'd rather talk about art than the Bible, listen to Jefferson Airplane than schmaltzy Christian music, and when they became evangelical superstars on the strength of their books, they quietly (and hypocritically) regarded James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the rest as "fools" and "idiots." Billy Graham was just "weird." But because they were engaged with the broader culture, the Schaeffers were uniquely placed to speak to the issues pulling young people out of their parent's churches in the 1960s and 70s: the sexual revolution, the counter-culture, disaffection with hollow bourgeois values. Francis Schaeffer thought the kids had the right complaints but the wrong solution. Then, Frank - as a budding young filmmaker - convinced his dad to take on the abortion question, despite the elder Schaeffer's initial lack of interest in this "Catholic" and "political" question. Thus the modern Christian Right - and the Schaeffer media empire - was forged. I remember Frank (then "Franky") Schaeffer for his anti-liberal, culture-war screed "A Time for Anger," a book my own dad admired but which I found, to my disappointment, clearly inferior to Francis's more intellectual endeavors. These days, Frank Schaeffer would agree with me. He regards his early evangelical work as propaganda. "Crazy for God" is his confession, an attempt to undo some of the damage he wrought in his crusading days. Still, readers interested in a juicy tell-all about "those wacky Christians" may be frustrated. Frank's memories are presented as such: a mixture of good and bad and only partly reliable. He conveys the complexity of his life history (and his feelings about it) with frequent anecdotes only tangentially related to matters theological or political. He frequently prints - at length - the memories of his sisters and others who remember differently, including those who are still evangelical Christians. The point is not to take down the Schaeffer brand. Rather, he wants us to know that his family was human, all-too human, and that their special variety of Biblical literalism, Calvinism-light, and cultural sophistication didn't make them any more saintly than the rest of us. By abandoning their exacting, misguided standards, he can see them more clearly, and more clearly express his abiding love.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Denise Ballentine

    This book has is filled with paradoxes, just like Frank himself. At times cynical, sarcastic, even crude, it is also honest, sincere, touching, and sentimental. Too many adjectives, I know. I was eager to hear his take on the whole evangelical movement. As one who still holds to her evangelical, fundamental faith, I half expected to hate most of this. But I didn't. I had a passing awareness of L'Abri, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and Frank (whom I knew as Franky). The first part of the book cent This book has is filled with paradoxes, just like Frank himself. At times cynical, sarcastic, even crude, it is also honest, sincere, touching, and sentimental. Too many adjectives, I know. I was eager to hear his take on the whole evangelical movement. As one who still holds to her evangelical, fundamental faith, I half expected to hate most of this. But I didn't. I had a passing awareness of L'Abri, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and Frank (whom I knew as Franky). The first part of the book centers on his life in Switzerland, growing up in the ministry, his experiences at boarding school in London, and as his time as a young rebellious artist. Later, as one who was on the inside of the new religious right in America (as he calls it), Frank takes us behind the scenes of some of the most famous evangelical leaders of the time. This part of the book can be a little painful for those who really looked up to some of these men. I can't judge how much of his perceptions are valid, but I think he tries to be honest, most of the time. I admit that sometimes (like Frank) I am a little turned off by so much "selling God." I mean really--towels that are a takeoff on a beer ad with the saying, "This blood's for you?" Makes me feel a little queasy,too. Frank continues on to wrap up his life with tales of his forays into the film business, and ultimately, as a serious author. This is an important book, especially for discerning Christians to ponder. I think he went overboard on the use of profanity. The abundance of the "f" word, in particular, detracted from his story. Also, be aware that Frank talks bluntly of sex. Frank did not hate his mother, father, and family. He shares many poignant moments he had with his father. The last chapter in the book about his elderly mother Edith even had me a little teary-eyed. Frank admits that he hasn't completely thrown off his religious teaching. He has found his place within the Orthodox Greek Community. He loves his wife and his children. He is seeking purpose in his own way, and I believe he is still actually seeking God.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    I picked this out at some point based entirely on the title, without knowing who this guy or his father were. I was looking for something more of an escaping a cult memoir, I guess. Instead this book is about 70% random personal memoir, mostly of his quirky childhood in Europe, and 30% about how he ended up finding himself a leader of the evangelical movement while thinking all these other guys like James Dobson and Pat Robertson were crazy, and eventually getting himself out of that while still I picked this out at some point based entirely on the title, without knowing who this guy or his father were. I was looking for something more of an escaping a cult memoir, I guess. Instead this book is about 70% random personal memoir, mostly of his quirky childhood in Europe, and 30% about how he ended up finding himself a leader of the evangelical movement while thinking all these other guys like James Dobson and Pat Robertson were crazy, and eventually getting himself out of that while still remaining a pretty conservative guy. This part of the book contains a lot of opining about how awful Roe v. Wade is and how it's just GONE TOO FAR and abortion maybe shouldn't be totally outlawed but only mostly so (and some nice sexist hypocrisy thrown in, where he bemoans how it's so terrible that teen girls are having so much sex, despite the first half of his memoir being about how horny he was as a kid, constantly masturbating and, as he got a little older, having lots of sex). I like quirky memoirs, but this isn't particularly compelling as one of those, and if I'd realized it was written by an anti-abortion conservative who was going to whine about awful liberals who are just too PC, all the while patting himself on the back for being more open-minded than the other evangelicals he got away from, I wouldn't have bothered with it in the first place.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Frank Schaeffer provides a glimpse into the life of a family that is greatly loved and revered in Christian circles, especially Reformed circles. He tells his story honestly from his own perspective. While he does write about positive aspects of his family life and characteristics of his parents that he valued, his overall tone is critical and full of regret. He makes the point that "superstar" Christian families are not perfect, and he seems to be seeking to expose the imperfections, whether to Frank Schaeffer provides a glimpse into the life of a family that is greatly loved and revered in Christian circles, especially Reformed circles. He tells his story honestly from his own perspective. While he does write about positive aspects of his family life and characteristics of his parents that he valued, his overall tone is critical and full of regret. He makes the point that "superstar" Christian families are not perfect, and he seems to be seeking to expose the imperfections, whether to balance the tendency of idolizing Christian leaders or in an effort to right the wrongs of his childhood (or some combination involving both). The book was interesting, especially for one who grew up hearing the name "Francis Schaffer" often and was raised in an environment influenced by some of his ideas. In spite of that influence, I have never read any of his books, and I want to now so that I may know more of him and his ideas from his perspective and not merely his son's. I do think Frank Schaeffer is a gifted writer. It was a well-written and thought-provoking memoir.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    An absolutely brilliant memoir. I particularly enjoyed it because I had been deeply influenced by the author's father's (Francis Schaeffer) books back in the 70s when I devoured them as a teenager sitting in a laundromat doing my washing. The book is wonderfully frank and exposes the hypocrisy and stupidity of so much of the American evangelical Christian movement. He pulls no punches even when writing about himself and his family. Superbly written with wit and insight. An excellent read. An absolutely brilliant memoir. I particularly enjoyed it because I had been deeply influenced by the author's father's (Francis Schaeffer) books back in the 70s when I devoured them as a teenager sitting in a laundromat doing my washing. The book is wonderfully frank and exposes the hypocrisy and stupidity of so much of the American evangelical Christian movement. He pulls no punches even when writing about himself and his family. Superbly written with wit and insight. An excellent read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Francis Schaeffer’s influence on my life was profound, and I’m hardly alone in that. As an academically-oriented kid growing up in a reformed (Calvinist) church, Schaeffer’s books were my first introduction to western philosophy (later followed by learning how much he got wrong). Schaeffer made the merging of evangelicalism and political conservatism seem intellectually feasible (if not inevitable). He also, inadvertently, wrote one of the earliest books (Pollution and the Death of Man) that sta Francis Schaeffer’s influence on my life was profound, and I’m hardly alone in that. As an academically-oriented kid growing up in a reformed (Calvinist) church, Schaeffer’s books were my first introduction to western philosophy (later followed by learning how much he got wrong). Schaeffer made the merging of evangelicalism and political conservatism seem intellectually feasible (if not inevitable). He also, inadvertently, wrote one of the earliest books (Pollution and the Death of Man) that started me on my slow, sometimes painful swing to the political left. Frank Schaeffer’s memoir of his family is a mixed bag. It received a lot of press when it came out for ripping away (in non-fiction form) the façade of his parent’s saintliness. It does do that—presenting Edith Schaeffer as vain and Francis as occasionally abusive and given to bouts of depression. More interesting, however (to me at least), were the descriptions of L’Abri—in all its complexity—in the pre-politicization-of-abortion years. Toward the end, the book suffers from a few too many name-dropping cheap shots—mostly directed at prominent evangelical/fundamentalist leaders. Some are certainly deserved, but they come too quick and easy. They expose a lack of care and introspection on the author’s part that separate this book from other, better “rough family” memoirs like Educated or The Glass Castle.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caden

    I was unsure of what to think of this book. Initially, I disliked it. There were a lot of parts that seemed to drag on, the author providing too many details that distracted from the overall picture. Chapter 57 is what redeemed the book for me. The main focus is on Roe v. Wade and the ideas surrounding abortion, politics, and the political landscape that we have a nation have become victims to. There were many thought provoking ideas in this chapter and subsequent ones that really caught my atte I was unsure of what to think of this book. Initially, I disliked it. There were a lot of parts that seemed to drag on, the author providing too many details that distracted from the overall picture. Chapter 57 is what redeemed the book for me. The main focus is on Roe v. Wade and the ideas surrounding abortion, politics, and the political landscape that we have a nation have become victims to. There were many thought provoking ideas in this chapter and subsequent ones that really caught my attention, to include the consequences of one-issue politics, Roe V. Wade and the historical times surrounding the decision, and Roe V. Wade compared to international policies at the time. There were several moments throughout the book I took a pause and thought about what Mr. Schaeffer was actually saying and how my own life experiences impacted what I heard. That is the measure of a good book to me.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.