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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

Read 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

E 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 a. 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

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Nd 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 high paying evangelical speaking gigs With its up close portraits of the leading figures of the American evangelical movement Crazy for God is a uniuely revealing and powerful memoir which tells its story with empathy humor and bite. Evangelical Sainthood ChallengedMake 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 CS 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 reuired by those who appreciate the intellectual and academic aura that they can provide for an evangelical movement that is desperate for such validationThere 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 uietly just point out that that person is obviously very bitter and not worthy of attentionWhat 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 DobsonReading 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 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 personallyThis 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 sympathetic figure between his parentsWhat 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 evangelicalismAll 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 seamy side and the dark underbelly of a movement that is about than it says for itself4 starsbart breen

Frank Schaeffer Æ 4 characters

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 h. 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 subseuent rejection of all that he had done I was hookedFrank 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 uestion 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 Serpent of Moses the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer By The Stars We Walked Upon the The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 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 Road Rage to Timothy Leary and Frank had joined his father on Linesman the evangelical circuit By Letters Never Sent the age of 23 h. As I made my way Healer's Choice though Ghostland the first Letters Never Sent two hundred pages of God Gave Us Easter this book I found Target (Alex Cross, the story of Frank's childhood interesting and revealing But when he began NEGUSTORUL DE MANUSCRISE to I Am Forbidden talk about his involvement in Llama Llama I Love You the founding of The Temporal Void the religious right all he and his father did you contribute The Temporal Void to something Wonder Woman, Volume 1 they were Wonder Woman, Volume 1 truly hesitant about and his subseuent rejection of all Perils of a Restless Planet: Scientific Perspectives on Natural Disasters that he had done I was hookedFrank is brutally honest and sometimes very brutal indeed but you do get The Old Guard, Book One: Opening Fire the sense His Birthday Gift that he is giving everyone a fair shake There are aspects of his childhood he is grateful for and Night Dogs there are aspects he came Bridges of Madison County to reject and he conveys both feelings with skill and clarity There can be no uestion Cities of the Red Night that The Odin Mission (Sergeant Jack Tanner, this is Frank's own perspective and so you can The Odin Mission take it for what it is worth but I Torpedo Run think Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God: (Srimad Bhagavata Purana Book X) this book is worth a lot and should be examined


10 thoughts on “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. says:

    Reviewed this for the British New StatesmanWhen 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 evangelicalismRaised 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 himAnd 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 hireWhat 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 uestion 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 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 offFran 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. says:

    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 subseuent rejection of all that he had done I was hookedFrank 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 uestion 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. says:

    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 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 rightThis 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 uotes verbatim the memories of peripheral characters Hard not to appreciate his energy and sincerity though So I land in the middle 3 stars


  4. says:

    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. says:

    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 heshe 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. says:

    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 humble


  7. says:

    Feeling guilty about enjoying this


  8. says:

    Evangelical Sainthood ChallengedMake 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 CS 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 reuired by those who appreciate the intellectual and academic aura that they can provide for an evangelical movement that is desperate for such validationThere 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 uietly just point out that that person is obviously very bitter and not worthy of attentionWhat 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 DobsonReading 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 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 personallyThis 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 sympathetic figure between his parentsWhat 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 evangelicalismAll 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 seamy side and the dark underbelly of a movement that is about than it says for itself4 starsbart breen


  9. says:

    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 weirdInstead 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 thereMost 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 uestions 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 dyslexiaSchaffer 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 ChristianSchaffer’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 storyDespite 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 uite 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 familyBy 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 bookI’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


  10. says:

    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


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