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791 of 833 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Shock and awe" iconoclasm.
I became an evangelical Christian in 1984, and one of the first heavy-hitter apologetic authors I discovered was Francis Schaeffer. His son, known at the time as "Franky," was also writing books, and as my first Christian mentor said to me, "Franky's a bit more radical than his father." I liked both authors, since at the time I was big on Christian conspiracies and...
Published on April 3, 2008 by Erik Olson

180 of 205 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something isn't making sense?
I was first introduced to Francis Schaeffer in the early 1970's. As an aspiring young artist, I naturally gravitated to (son) Frank's early talks on art and faith. I attended L'Abri seminars into the 1980's... about the time Frank had stepped in for his father (then ill) to deliver several keynote speeches to religious broadcasters. I was on Frank's mailing list for his...
Published on December 5, 2007 by John D. Woods

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791 of 833 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Shock and awe" iconoclasm., April 3, 2008
Erik Olson "Seeker Reviews" (Ridgefield, WA United States) - See all my reviews
I became an evangelical Christian in 1984, and one of the first heavy-hitter apologetic authors I discovered was Francis Schaeffer. His son, known at the time as "Franky," was also writing books, and as my first Christian mentor said to me, "Franky's a bit more radical than his father." I liked both authors, since at the time I was big on Christian conspiracies and rigid theology as promulgated by such fundamentalist luminaries as Jack Chick and Bill Gothard. I dove deep into the evangelical world, attending various churches, serving in many ministries, and even graduating from seminary with a Pastoral Studies MA degree in 2002.

However, during the last year it all came crashing down, ironically after walking the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in Spain. During my trek I had plenty of time to think about the last two decades, and in the end I came to a decision. Yes, as an evangelical I'd made a few good friends and had some positive experiences. But the bad far outweighed the good. I'd had enough of trying to jam theological square pegs into the round holes of rationality. Plus, I could take no more cult-of-personality pastors, egotistical theologians, holier-than-thou legalisms, guilt trips, and plain goofiness. So when reality intruded on my faith, I either had to acknowledge it or shut my eyes even tighter. I chose the former option and abandoned evangelicalism.

As part of my journey I read the "new atheist" books by Hitchens, Dawkins, Stenger, and so forth. Although I found them challenging and relevant (along with abrasive and polemic), these authors have probably never bought into any religious belief. I wanted a story written by an intelligent, high-level Christian, someone who had originally dedicated their life to the evangelical church but ended up leaving for conscience's sake. With "Crazy for God" I found exactly what I was looking for. Here was fundamentalist firebrand Franky Schaeffer, now reborn as Frank, telling his fascinating story of living, as the cover blurb says, to "take it all (or almost all) of it back." I could barely put it down.

Mr. Schaeffer pulls no punches when it comes to evangelicals, family, and even himself. The most sympathetic figure is his father Francis, who seemed trapped in a joyless fundamentalist world he didn't create or desire. As for the author, it appears that his biggest problems with Christianity were its failure to overcome the baser instincts of human nature, and the ever-present stifling legalism he endured: witness the pious evangelical leaders who used the Schaeffers to advance their ministries (and themselves), his three sisters, who put up false fronts of stability while burning out and breaking down under Mrs. Schaeffer's relentless perfectionism, and young Frank, who goofed off, partied hard, and fornicated with abandon in plain sight at L'Abri, the family ministry center in Switzerland.

As one might expect in such a context, parts of this book are quite harsh - it's plain that the author is still nursing past wounds. Mr. Schaeffer is brutally transparent about everything from the voracious sensual appetites of his youth to the familial abuse within his household. In addition, he spares none of the evangelical royalty that his family encountered, including the "power-crazed" Dr. James Dobson, the "very weird" Billy Graham, and Pat Robertson, whose wacky exploits get more airtime than I can quote. He even rakes his radical "Franky" persona over the coals, offering a mea culpa for his entire ministry and political activist period. One glaring omission: despite some tantalizing glimpses, he doesn't seem to delve into whatever specific theological problems he had with evangelical Christianity. I struggled with doctrines like eternal damnation and predestination, and I'd hoped to get Mr. Schaeffer's insights on these and other troublesome topics. No such luck.

After such a wild ride, it's nice to see that Mr. Schaeffer has come to a calmer and more stable place in life. However, he inadvertently demonstrates that we can never entirely escape ourselves. He has transferred his evangelical zeal to patriotism, exemplified by his devotion to United States Marine Corps where his son honorably served in harm's way. I'm glad he's pro-America, and the USMC deserves good publicity. But as one who spent six years as a jarhead, I'd like to caution the author that the storied Corps, much like the Church he now eschews, is an imperfect institution where high ideals are limited by human frailties. As for Christianity, given the tone of this book I found it surprising that Mr. Schaeffer still bothers with God at all. However, awhile back he joined the Greek Orthodox Church and has found a semblance of peace within its walls. But as for the evangelical camp, he and his house are staying far away, thank you very much.

As a former evangelical, I heartily recommend "Crazy for God." Be forewarned that it's rough on evangelicalism, and a person of faith will certainly struggle with the author's profanity, sensuality, and negative conclusions about evangelical Christianity and some of its glitterati. But it is Christians who need to read this book the most, so that they can engage with the uncomfortable revelations of a former evangelical star, and either come to a clearer-eyed place in their faith - or leave it altogether for their own sake.
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230 of 245 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an honest and surprising book, March 15, 2008
Jim Forest (Alkmaar Netherlands) - See all my reviews
Frank Schaeffer doesn't really fit into a brief description. An American, he grew up in rural Switzerland. His parents were fervent Calvinist missionaries living in a Catholic culture which they regarded as barely Christian. Their chalet, known as L'Abri, became a house of hospitality in which a never-ending seminar on culture and Christianity was the main event. Though an Evangelical, a strain of Protestantism usually hostile to the arts, Frank's father was an avid lover of art done in earlier centuries by, in most cases, Catholic artists -- an enthusiasm that in time inspired his son to become an artist. Later Frank gave up the easel to makes films, first documentaries in which his father was the central figure, then more general evangelical films, and finally several unsuccessful non-religious films aimed at a general audience. Eventually -- profoundly disenchanted with the form of Christianity his parents had embraced, and still more alienated from the shrill varieties of right wing Evangelical Christianity that both he and his parents had helped create, Frank joined the Orthodox Church, where he still remains, though no longer in what he refers to as the stage of "convert zeal." After his son, John, became a Marine, Frank became something of a missionary for the Marine Corps, and the military in general, at the same time avidly supporting the war in Iraq in which his son was a participant. A statement I helped to write that urged George Bush not to attack Iraq was the target of a widely-published column Schaeffer wrote in the early days of that war. Now he regards the Iraq War as a disaster and has become an outspoken critic of George Bush.

"Crazy for God" is a gripping read, both candid and engaging. More than anything else, I was touched by Schaeffer's unrelenting honesty. There are pages in which you feel as if you are overhearing a confession. Yet it's a very freeing confession to overhear, in the sense that it allows the reader to make deeper contact with painful or embarrassed areas of his own wounded memory. The book also serves as an admonition not to create a self for public display which is hardly connected to one's actual self.

Being raised in a hothouse of Calvinist missionary zeal, in which Schaeffer and his three sisters became Exhibit A (especially whenever their mother wrote or spoke about Christian Family Life) is not something I would wish on any child. I expect Frank Schaeffer will always be in recovery from that aspect of his childhood.

Those -- and they are many -- who still revere his parents (or for that matter Schaeffer's earlier self, in the period of his life when he was a hot voice packing in the evangelical/Christian Right crowds) are furious at this lifting of the curtain.

Yet I found Schaeffer much harder on himself than on his parents, whom he sees as having been damaged, in some ways made crazy, by the burden of a harsh Calvinist theology. Nonetheless his parents emerge as real Christians whose loving care for others, including people whom many Christians would cross the street to avoid, was absolutely genuine. (I was impressed by the book's account of his parents' response to homosexuals who came to visit L'Abri. They were as warmly received as any other guest.)

While objecting to his parents' theology and the distortions that it created in their lives and in the lives of many influenced by them, clearly he loves them passionately and deeply respects the actual Christian content of their lives -- their "grace, generosity, love and unconditional support."

Schaeffer's book also reminds me that it's one of the recurring tragedies of US history that, from time to time, various movements of self-righteous, ideology-driven Christians decide it's time to try to impose their ideas on society at large. Schaeffer has to live with the painful memory of having been one of the key figures helping to create one of the constituencies that did the most to put George Bush in the White House in their one-issue hope that he would find ways to make abortion, if not illegal, at least less frequent. After eight years in the Oval Office, in fact abortion is no less deeply embedded in American life than it was before Bush's election. Little if anything was done by his administration to help women who felt they had no option but abortion find alternatives.

I was touched by Schaeffer's comments about the powerful influence children can have on their parents, far more than the children usually realize. As Schaeffer has come to understand, in reflecting on his relationship with his father, that influence is sometimes far from positive.

Schaeffer -- now far more caring about the quandaries others face than he was earlier in his life -- has in the process become aware that self-righteousness is often the hallmark of each and every "movement," whether religious or secular, and whether for the unborn, for peace, for those on death row, for animal welfare, for the environment, etc., etc.

In putting the book down, I find myself profoundly grateful for where Frank Schaeffer's journey has taken him so far, yet hope for further evolution in his views in regard to the military and how those in the armed forces are used. I take it as a given that he is aware there are men and women who died or live crippled lives in part because of the impact on their lives of several of Schaeffer's earlier books which viewed the military uncritically and seemed unaware of how often those sent into battle -- because of accidents, misinformation, panic, bad orders, or even the passion for vengeance -- kill innocent people. Nor does he seem aware of the damage, often unhealable, done to those who bear responsibility for such deaths. I hope Schaeffer will give more thought to why the early Church took such a radical stand in regard to warfare and other forms of killing, accidental or intentional, and what that might mean for any Christian in our own day.

Also I would have been glad to hear more about what drew him to the Orthodox Church and what keeps him there, now that he is past what he calls the "zealous convert" stage. In his autobiography, being Orthodox is a minor topic.

As "Crazy for God" bears witness, life is mainly shaped by one's parents and family, peer group pressure, and -- not least -- the white water of ambition. Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. I was reminded several times of one of Kurt Vonnegut's insights: "Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be." It's something of a miracle that Frank Schaeffer escaped from the highly profitable world of the Television Church.

"Crazy for God" also reminds me of what a dangerous vocation it is, more perilous than mountain climbing, when one becomes a professional Christian, writing or speaking about the Gospel, Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, making some or all of your living doing this. It's a danger I live with too.

-- Jim Forest
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184 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Apostasy Full of Grace and Truth, December 4, 2007
He was once the fair-haired boy wonder of evangelicalism, there at the creation of the American Religious Right. He helped define the culture war, especially over abortion. He helped create the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, the Republican majority, the conservative Supreme Court and the New Evangelicals. Now, he's an apostate, a unborn-again seeker, a member of an Eastern Orthodox church, and a a self-acknowledged failure. Which means that, strangely, he's a finally a success.

Frank Schaeffer, the son of evangelical theologians Francis and Edith Schaeffer has, in his memoir Crazy for God, provided a beautiful, touching, and painfully honest story of growing up in the evangelical sub-culture in the age before it emerged as the culture. His portrait of his famous (at least in some circles) parents, and their Swiss Christian community, L'Abri, will anger those evangelicals who regard the Schaeffers (especially Francis) as saints. But, if you're looking for a Daddy Dearest, you'll be mightly disappointed. There is no scandal here, other than the scandal of evangelical Christianity in America once it got itself fitted into Constantine's vestments.

Frank paints his father as an art-loving historian, a free-thinker more at home in the Florentine Accademia than on the radio with Dr. Dobson. The elder Schaeffer apparently detested the power-hungry theo-politicians like Dobson, Falwell and Robertson, and was far more concerned with reaching young people in search of life's big questions than in reaching the halls of power. Still he allowed himself to be manipulated by the theo-politicians, to become the most sought after evangelical teacher of the 1980's. Francis Schaeffer is revered in evangelical circles, where his books and film series (produced by Frank) are still best-sellers two decades after his death. He created the intellectual underpinnings of the Religious Right (yes, Virginia, there is such a thing) and did more than any other theologian to gain evangelicalism its entry onto the political stage.

Edith is considerably more God-crazy than her husband, but her son clearly adores her. Beautiful, stylish, and fiercely intelligent, she is the fire in L'Abri's stove, warming everything with her presence, all the while irritating the living hell out of her family with twenty minute sermons masquerading as prayers, and her passion to "save" every living being in earshot.

Frank Schaeffer is honest about the dysfunction of his family, his sister's mental illness, his own sexual coming of age (sometimes uncomfortably so--the man apparently was a world-class wanker as a teen), the family fights over theology (which nearly wrecked L'Abri), and his parents' love affair with art, music and literature. He's also painfully honest about his failed career as a secular film maker, and genuinely regretful at giving up his early and promising career as an artist to chase the big evangelical donors who were underwriting the Schaeffer phenomenon.

Where he's at his best is also where's at his angriest: about the destructive role he played in American political life and the unleashing of the monster that ate the Republican Party. These days, he's a post-evangelical who rejects "what the evangelical community became. It was the merging of the entertainment business with faith, the flippant lightweight kitsch ugliness of American Christianity, the sheer stupidty, the paranoia of the American right-wing enterprise, the platitudes married to pop culture." He also considerably more nuanced about abortion, though calling him "pro-choice" would be a stretch.

In this he taps into that ironic vein that has created most of us evangelical apostates: the very success of evangelicalism, its emergence as the dominant religious influence in America, and its naked lust for power have driven us far from our home. One of Francis Schaeffer's most famous works is a film series about abortion and euthaniasia entitled, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? His son wants to know: whatever happened to the Evangelical Church?

Frank Schaeffer's apostasy is full of grace and truth. But what else would you expect from Francis and Edith Schaeffer's boy?
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180 of 205 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something isn't making sense?, December 5, 2007
John D. Woods "jdwoodsjr" (Highlands Ranch, CO USA) - See all my reviews
I was first introduced to Francis Schaeffer in the early 1970's. As an aspiring young artist, I naturally gravitated to (son) Frank's early talks on art and faith. I attended L'Abri seminars into the 1980's... about the time Frank had stepped in for his father (then ill) to deliver several keynote speeches to religious broadcasters. I was on Frank's mailing list for his Christian Activist newspaper... followed his movie career... etc.

The disconnect for me is that I never thought of the Schaeffers (any of them... sisters, mother, brothers-in-law) as Fundamentalists. Far from it. In fact, they were a breath of fresh air against the tide of religious fundamentalism. I learned from them that faith was a lifestyle that should influence ALL of life in an honest way. In other words, in the arts and architecture... in creating meals and homes... influencing culture with all things beautiful and honorable. The Schaeffers stood against the narrow definition of "Christian culture" that many "in the faith" seemed to embrace that looked at outsiders only as "people to be saved" (rather than human beings to be honored for just who they were) and had turned the arts into advertisements for salvation. Frank(y) would say that if most Christians had their way they'd take the Scriptures and edit them down to a four page gospel tract (he said this in the 1970's).

It's hard to believe that the effort at L'Abri had such a fundamentalist foundation and still attract such a wide crowd of dissenters. (I don't recall that Timothy Leary, Bob Dylan or Mick Jagger signing up to sit at the feet of Dr. James Dobson or Jerry Falwell).

I never knew the (other) Schaeffers to promote any church denomination, or pastor, or other "Christian leader" or Seminary... although, it was no secret they generally came from the Reformed Presbyterian tradition.

Frank, on the other hand, embraced Orthodoxy (almost twenty years ago...) So, the disconnect for me is that I can't figure out a time that I knew of him as a fundamentalist (although some might argue that he's a fundamentalist in his Orthodoxy).

The book, at any rate, is still a good read. Although, I think Frank is better with comedy than sarcasm (read Portofini, it's laugh-out-loud funny). Regardless of how he presents his life in "Crazy" you have to admit that he has had experiences, met people, attempted grand things, and taken risks that most of us could only dream about.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Having been there. . ., November 16, 2007
Having come from both sides of Frank Schaeffer's experience (being a fundamentalist right-wing conservative Republican-voting Francis Schaeffer-idolizing whatever-you-call-it, then breaking away from that to eventually become Greek Orthodox, like Frank himself), I found this book enlightening. Frank's gift for detailed,and sometimes graphic, descriptions can be both enjoyable and occasionally painful. The best quality of this memoir is Frank's honesty. While not hesitating to tell how he saw life with his parents at L'Abri, he includes others' written perceptions, even when they are critical of Frank himself. He does not paint himself as a virtuous opposite of all that they were, nor as some innocent victim of abuse. Overall, I think Frank has done his parents honor in that they become, through this book, three-dimensional characters with very real strengths as well as faults. Also, I found his account of the development of the "religious right" as a political force fascinating and would recommend the book if only for understanding the history, purposes, and dynamics of that movement.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Messy, Flawed, Beautiful Family, March 28, 2009
This review is from: 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 (Paperback)
It would take me a week to describe all the emotions I felt reading Crazy for God; but by the end of the book, I just wanted to embrace every member of this all-too-human but incredibly gifted family.

The scenes of Frank painting picture after picture beside his dying father's bedside to cheer and remind Francis of the best memories they shared; Frank taking his 92 year old mother to a restaurant where she can now -- free from former mental or religious constraints - dance to the music her heart has always loved, but most of her life felt she had to avoid (to please God)... were transcendent.

Frank observed, poignantly, that maybe God answered all his mother's prayers for her family because all along God saw THIS childlike Edith, free to laugh and dance and relax, even during the years when she was working so hard to be saintly. (And sometimes driving the kids crazy as a by-product of a ministry that took over nearly every moment and nook and cranny of their lives as a family.)

To me these scenes sum up a grand theme in the story of Every Family. We are ALL a mess, some of us more than others but still.. a mess. The Schaeffers, to their everlasting credit, have stayed a family, continue to meet, talk, love through conflict and at this juncture, are a living portrait of redemptive love within their ranks. All God's children have issues. Some, like Frank's, lean toward the Prodigal Son perhaps. Others, like Francis and Edith, leaned too much toward the superiority complex of the Elder Brother. But we all need saving from ourselves. That's what Christ came to do.

What I do not understand is how so many Christians can be so reactive to Frank, walking in lockstep of near-hatred, as if he isn't allowed a viewpoint or his own story of growing up Schaeffer and beyond. Every person in this family drama is gifted and flawed. My parents studied at La'bri in the 70's and to this day, live out what they learned in those years. So I have enormous affection and admiration for Francis and for Edith, their books dotted my life for many years.

But living in a home that is never uninhabited by hordes of "seekers" does something to a family that is hurtful and unhealthy psychologically to all the children, though they acted out their pain in very different ways. (In fact, Edith counseled my parents to do it differently: to make their family their number one ministry. She admitted the toll their life had taken on their children.) Still, each Schaeffer deserves to be deeply listened to, with compassion, for what shaped each of their experiences.

Having collaborated on a book about the brain with Dr. Earl Henslin, recently, I also view some of the "sins and flaws" revealed in this book as potential organic brain imbalances, that could have shown up on a brain scan and been treated, balanced, and probably saved everyone a lot of mental agony. I feel compassion, not judgment. Empathy not anger.

From a purely literary viewpoint, in my opinion, Frank is far and away the best writer in the family. His books are a hundred times more readable and creative than his "don't edit my golden words" parents -- even if you disagree with his conclusions. (I'm scratching my head over Christians who gave him a one star review in spite of the many good things they noted about his fine abilities as a writer. That just seems small and spiteful. Is this really what Jesus would do?)

In healthy families each member gets a voice and viewpoint, to be seen as whole person with flaws and gifts... and reading some of these reviews reminds me why the Christian Family is so unhealthy as a whole. Even when I disagree with Frank, I feel like I just want to throw myself in front of him to protect him from Christian bullies who have attacked him for opening a vein and being as honest as a human can be (which is what good memoirists do), admitting over and over that this was his view, he could be mistaken, and humbly offering up his authentic experience without throwing pink paint over realities. Sometimes those realities included using profanity,rage, and stories of a sexually virile and rebellious youth. (His father was a man with a temper and high needs for sex, according to Edith. So anger and high testosterone may have run in the family!) Yes, some of the stories made me squirm. But not enough to stop reading. Even the tough scenes were a part of Frank's emotional tapestry. Right or wrong, these experiences were the threads of his life.

He gave pages to his siblings and children to tell their views as well, an extra attempt at fairness. Actual letters from his mother and father help to validate much of Frank's experience as their son.

Frank is now in his sixties, a father of a marine who served this country, and doting grandfather. He's now nearly lived as long as his famous father. I think Dr. Schaeffer would be enormously proud of where his son has arrived as a human being, even if he disagreed with some of his conclusions.

It is pure wonder to me that Frank is still open to the possiblity of God and Christianity, still attending church of any kind, still praying -- when so many of God's kids have been so immature and hateful as he wandered through his own oft-painful journey. I side with Mother Teresa here: If you are too busy judging people, how will you have time to love them?

(I apologize for the length of this review! I just can't summarize the boatload of thoughts into a short paragraph when it comes to this book.)
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I lived it, too., November 4, 2007
Mark E. Williams "markewilliams" (South Burlington, VT United States) - See all my reviews
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The reason this book means so much to me is that I grew up as a child of a missionary, too, and I believed fervently in all of the ideals of evangelicalism, read the Schaeffer books, and I voted Republican. So having Frank Schaeffer confirm what I know in my gut--that we need to take a good look at ourselves before we judge others--is deeply refreshing.

There are beautiful elements in the book--the fact that the author obviously loves each person in his family and longs to write something redeeming about each one after he has revealed their Achille's heel, and there are rough elements in the book--broad brush accusations against both the left and the right that could use refining.

But what this book does best is take you inside the heart and mind of someone who was formed by and helped formed the movement that about one third of America has been part of. Thank you, Frank!
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, and a quick read, November 5, 2007
Piedmont Lady (Winston-Salem, NC) - See all my reviews
Reading about Frank's childhood background was fun, but I was more impressed with his adult life and the changes he's been through. Frank points out that big time evangelicalism has turned into big business and has merged with the entertainment industry. No longer is Christian ministry based on a personal "calling" from God. It is now often like a business that fathers pass down to their sons and their son's sons. He points out that some of these famous families have lived in their own Christian bubble for so long that they are just plain weird. Bottom line - we should worship God, not famous Christian leaders.

Frank admits that his own upbringing was anything BUT normal. His parents were human and had faults like all the rest of us. His father, Francis struggled with an explosive temper. His mother, Edith was fiercely competitive with his father. The ministry at L'Abri seemed to come first, parenting came second. Yet, throughout the book, I never get the sense that Frank is bitter or angry at his parents. He talks about his own faults in trying to raise his kids, admitting things he's had to ask their forgiveness for. I was touched at the end of the book where he talks about how he enjoys visiting his mother now and how she has learned to love to dance, even though she is now in her 90's.

I have to give Frank credit for having the integrity to pull away from the intoxication of life in the evangelical spotlight. He sums it up well toward the end of the book when he discusses his conversion to the Greek Orthodox church and states, "I received more spiritual edification out of working on the annual fund-raising food festival, shoulder-to-shoulder with some remarkably lovely people, as we prepared lamb shanks and trays of pasticcio and swept up the church hall, than from speaking, let alone being a Christian leader. It was better than parading around in front of audiences, talking about things I barely understood."
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66 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAVO!!, December 1, 2007
Am so glad Frank has written this book which is honest, and even painful to read at times. His honesty will make some 'Christians' mad, since his experiences expose what goes on behind the scenes of some arenas in Christianity. But it was great reading how he was raised, how his parents upbringing effected them and the choices they made. Was sad to read how his Mom loved dancing as a young woman but gave it up because of religious dogma.

Was nice to read how his father evolved in his own Christian walk to the point that when Frank was considering converting to the Catholic faith, his father wasn't adverse. Which when you consider some of his earlier Catholic whoredom views, was a huge evolution.

What really makes the book a great read is the constant reminder of how when one read the Bible one sees how the men of the times, had made religion and politics almost one and the same and over time, both became corrupted. The author reminds us that we stared down this same path beginning in the 80's.

Most of all, this is a book by a man who as he has matured, has stopped, become still and has looked at his life and the mistakes made, as well as the majority of good choices, and has realized that no matter
how old we become. its never to late to change and own the words we speak, and actions we take.

Fact is, he admits he often went along to get along, as many young adults do. Then he married at a very early age, became a father and the process of facing ones demons or faults slowly started to happen. One wonders how many people would do well to heed his example.
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank Schaeffer's True Confessions, November 3, 2007
Crazy for God is such a deeply personal book that my first response to it is also personal. Ever since 1962, the year I lived within range of the radio station of Bob Jones University, I have been fascinated by, if not enamored, of fundamentalist, allegedly Christian preachers.
The Bakkers, Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson--I've watched them all on TV. For thirty years my home has been in the stomping ground of Carl McIntyre and within earshot of his radio "ministry." The Dallas church I grew up in was one block away from the First Baptist Church of W. A. Criswell. I've at least a glancing acquaintance with American revivalist traditions. My grandmother loved Billy Sunday, and I've heard Billy Graham make the altar call in a football stadium.

More recently I've been sufficiently alarmed by the Dominionist/Reconstructionist theology of Rushdoony and North to read some of their work. And I've been further alarmed by the equation of US foreign policy priorities with unquestioning support of the state of Israel, on grounds that the End of the World is nigh, much to be desired, and foretold in Isaiah and Ezekiel as well as in the Revelation of St. John. I find real danger in the gospel preached by Texas preachers like John Hagee, who is up to his eyeballs in pro-Likud politics and who looks forward with delight to the prospect of Jerusalem awash in a sea of human blood when Christ returns to kill unbelievers and reward the faithful.

Some time ago I was surprised when opposition to abortion became an issue for Southern Baptists as well as Roman Catholics, although on apparently different grounds. (Catholicism opposes abortion, as well as artificial contraception, on the basic of natural law;
the evangelical equivalent seems to grow more out of a fear of sexuality and a mean-spirited desire to see non-marital sexuality punished whenever it shows itself.)

But I had only the vaguest idea who Francis Schaeffer, a fountainhead of post WW II evangelical thought, was, and I never heard of his son, Frank, until I read Jane Smiley's review of Crazy for God in The Nation a few weeks ago. I ordered it immediately and read every page with surpassing delight.

Few books have made such an immediate impression. I place it with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Prison Letters, Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition, and Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death, although none of these made me laugh, as did Crazy for God. This is a read-aloud book, one that inspires this reader, at least, to nudge my partner in bed and say, "Hey, listen to this description of Pat Robertson and his snakes."

Crazy for God is not just a good read, however. It is historically important for its description of the emergence of abortion as a banner that united very diverse strains and sects within the Anabaptist and Calvinist traditions of Protestantism into a political force that was able--tragically!--to influence presidential and congressional elections and to move the US Supreme Court closer to right wing activism. Frank Schaeffer was highly instrumental in this movement, about which he has strong second thoughts.

There's another book to which Crazy for God is spiritually kin--Augustine's Confessions.
The two drift in different directions--Augustine from doubt to faith, Schaeffer from proclamations of certainty to relative comfort with ambiguity--but they are both deeply personal. I for one can read Augustine with pleasure, despite having lost long ago all theistic beliefs or convictions. I love Augustine's prayer, "Lord give me chastity, but not yet," I think his treatment of his mistress was abominable, I find his mother abominable, and his description of his love of his son is very moving. Crazy for God is in the same territory to a surprising extent. Schaeffer's mid-life recollections of the explosive sexuality of his adolescence and young manhood ring of the truth of experience, but they're also funny. His love of family, both family of origin and family of his own loins (to put it biblically) radiates throughout the book. He may criticize his parents, sharply at times, but he does not fail to honor them, either.

Finally, Frank Schaeffer embodies the ancient religious virtue of humility. He is unafraid to say that he was wrong on important matters.

Right now America could do with a whole lot more of this spirit, especially in those who claim to be our political and spiritual leaders.

Kudos to Crazy for God!
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