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Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to give love, create beauty and find peace [Kindle Edition]

Frank Schaeffer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)

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Book Description

How to Create Beauty, Give Love and Find Peace
Frank Schaeffer


Caught between the beauty of his grandchildren and grief over a friend’s death, Frank Schaeffer finds himself simultaneously believing and not believing in God—an atheist who prays. Schaeffer wrestles with faith and disbelief, sharing his innermost thoughts with a lyricism that only great writers of literary nonfiction achieve. Schaeffer writes as an imperfect son, husband and grandfather whose love for his family, art and life trumps the ugly theologies of an angry God and the atheist vision of a cold, meaningless universe. Schaeffer writes that only when we abandon our hunt for certainty do we become free to create beauty, give love and find peace.


“As someone who has made redemption his work, Frank has, in fact, shown amazing grace.” — Jane Smiley, Washington Post


“To millions of evangelical Christians, the Schaeffer name is royal, and Frank is the reluctant, wayward, traitorous prince. His crime is not financial profligacy, like some pastors’ sons, but turning his back on Christian conservatives.” — New York Times


“Frank Schaeffer’s gifts as a writer are sensual and loving. He’s also laugh-out-loud funny!” — Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

"All we have is our stories," writes novelist Schaeffer (Crazy for God, 2008, etc.) in this entertaining,energetic new memoir. He follows through on this point by filling his book with story after story, all told with the clarity and catchy pacing of a born raconteur.... An intriguing, readable memoir aimed squarely at the post-faith modern era." (KIRKUS Review)


“Part of the impact here, admittedly, is a result of who Frank Schaeffer is and of the platform from which he writes. That cannot obscure the fact, however—indeed, must not be allowed to obscure the fact—that in places this theological meditation cum memoir is arrestingly beautiful in and of itself, that it is, in fact, absolutely redolent of all the power that beautiful suggests. Schaeffer’s openness about his own wrestling with the concepts of God and god-ness which he inherited from his parents is heartrending at times, but it is also deadly honest and always unshielded. It is also balanced in a most gentle way by Schaeffer’s quiet defense of the traditional and his appreciation for its place in well-lived life. In fact, one leaves the final pages of WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD aware yet once again that sometimes and in some circumstances, an artist is still the best theologian.” — Phyllis Tickle author of The Age of the Spirit

“Frank Schaeffer always writes well, but Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes In God is extraordinary. Somewhere between the sterile, absolute, and empty formulae of reductionist, totalitarian science and the earnest, hostile, excessively certain make-believe of religious fundamentalism, there is a beautiful place. There is room in this place for honesty. For tenderness. For fury. For wonder. For hope. For mistakes. For paradox. For grace. This book is written from that in-between place. It will help you get there too, if you're interested in finding it.” — Brian D. McLaren author/speaker/activist

“A delight and charmer of a read---deft insights, burnished gold probes, arrow hit bull’s eye well again and again.” — Ron Dart (Thomas Merton Society of Canada)

Product Details

  • File Size: 486 KB
  • Print Length: 164 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 149595501X
  • Publisher: Frank Schaeffer; 1 edition (May 15, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,437 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it! May 17, 2014
I met Frank Schaeffer briefly last summer at a festival I was attending. I didn’t know very much about him at the time, other than he was the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer. I have since read a few blog posts and heard friends talk about him. I had not read any of Frank’s books until this one. “Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” is beautifully written. Frank articulates the struggle between faith, doubt, and belief very well. I found myself drawn into his stories and thinking along the same lines throughout much of this book. I was encouraged by the story Frank shares of Holly and the eulogy her son, Noah, gave. “My mother’s creed was ‘create beauty, give love, find peace.’” And I agree with Frank that “That’s the best description of the point of living I’ve heard.” What I took away from reading “Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God” is that what we think, know, or believe is of little importance in the art of creating beauty, giving love, and finding peace. In the end, what is important is who we are becoming.
I highly recommend reading this book.
*This is my first review of a book. I'm crossing that off my bucket list!
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing and Authentic Work of Faith May 12, 2014
As a chaplain, in a hospital, I work with people from all walks of life. And what I've learned to do is to "leave space" for the stories that I hear. I try to listen without judgement. But I know that my experience is different from most people. Many people seem to have room for only one way of understanding because they are so busy that they do not want to take the mental energy for "leaving space" because that means taking time to really listen to the story of the other and then taking time to sit with the difficult questions posed by listening. Frank's book has been a refreshing read for me as he states a lot of what I think on a given day. He seems to have lived with the weird, wrestled with it and now has come to a place of allowing space for it all. He seems OK with recognizing that he does not have all of the answers. "You will always embody contradiction he says," and to that I say "Yes!" And maybe what is most endearing to me about the book is the insights that Frank has received from his own grandchildren, "Lucy and Jack just accept that life is weird, wonderful and defined by imagination." He listens to them and allows their stories to help him make sense of this very weird world in which we live. I appreciate Frank's authentic voice and his courage for putting words to paper. I hope to use this book as a book study with others……..a springboard for talking about what is and what might be.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Thoughtful Read May 9, 2014
By w brown
I was fortunate to receive a digital review copy of this book and was engrossed from the first paragraph. Mr. Schaeffer has an engaging writing style. It seemed the book was like one of his paintings, with the subject his life journey so far and his words the paint. He writes as if having a real conversation with a good friend.

Mr. Schaeffer is Eastern Orthodox and writes from a “progressive” Christian outlook. It seems this faith perspective allows him to openly explore doubts about God, hence the atheist slant. I find this point of view interesting, and his honesty refreshing. Even as he draws from the insight of others, his own thoughts and voice are clearly communicated. I felt as if he was saying, “This is how I am and operate in the world, a product of my particular time and circumstances. You probably will not change my mind, but neither will I try to change yours. Let's talk (and argue!)!”

This was, from start to finish, a very enjoyable read.
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80 of 99 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a mess June 18, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some books are self-published because they're such groundbreaking works of genius - Thoreau's Walden, for example - that conventional publishers don't know what to make of them. But other self-published books are such crap that no respectable publisher or editor wants to touch them with a barge pole. Frank Schaeffer's recent Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God falls into this category.

The book is an extraordinarily bad melange of half-baked thoughts on religion, art, and culture, all of which are sandwiched between autobiographical details that range from the bathetic to the tedious. The central thesis reads like a college sophomore's stab at post-modern-speak: we humans are narrative-making creatures who long for a "one-size-fits-all" framework. But there is no objective truth - "there are no other kinds of arguments than circular ones" (p. 78) - and any "paradigm," be it religious, philosophical, scientific, or whatever, is fictional. "There are no objective facts, just personal histories and the coincidences of time and place seen through the lenses of short lives. Deal with it." (p. 26)

Shaeffer's conclusion is that because all truth is a fiction, because what one believes is ultimately nothing more than arbitrary choice or environmentally programmed script, there's no shame in embracing contradictions. Hence the book's headline-grabbing title.

Look. Of course part of the human condition is learning to live with ambiguity. Even the most deeply-held beliefs are tinged with a certain degree of ambivalence and uncertainty, and we're wise to be wary of one-size-fits-all explanatory reductionism.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "Words fall short"
A week ago a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link about Frank Schaefer’s new book “Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Randy P Baxter
5.0 out of 5 stars but with kindness and love which from his understanding is the heart...
I met Frank Schaeffer a couple of years ago while he was speaking at a conference. I appreciated his honesty and deep character, and also appreciated his commitment to live outside... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Nita Belles
3.0 out of 5 stars Schaeffer Continues Exploring His Belief Systems
I liked reading the book, and it does reveal some of his personal choices about doubts and also a choice to regularly participate in worship and rituals of a particular... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Linda Muralidharan
5.0 out of 5 stars Letting God Out of the Box - Reflections on Frank Schaeffer's "Why I...
I wanted to write a formal "review" of this book, but initially couldn't think of anything to say other than, "Fabulous book! Everybody should read it. Read more
Published 9 days ago by M. Jamie Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is nicely written. I think the authors point is there ...
This book is nicely written. I think the authors point is there are many beautiful things around us including, but not exclusive to, religious services. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Charles Springer
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh . . . you can do bettter
My only justification for a third star would be the fact that, as a much more liberal adult than the one I was raised to be by my parents, I can relate somewhat to where he is... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Dan Loffer
1.0 out of 5 stars I was completely disappointed. While I applaude his disdain for empty...
I was completely disappointed. While I applaude his disdain for empty religiosity, the message was so overly couched in self-aggrandizement, cheap shots at his dad and fawning love... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Dave Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My heart understands the soul of this book. Words escape me. Deeply thankful for its expression.
Published 22 days ago by mary rockwell
4.0 out of 5 stars Frank has written about life and God and being human in a way that...
As usual, Frank has written about life and God and being human in a way that cuts to the chase like few others. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Ann Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! A must read for anyone searching for truth.
I bought this for Kindle and I want to buy the hardback so I can loan it out. I didn't know of Frank Schaeffer before although I knew of his Father. Read more
Published 28 days ago by jason Hungate
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More About the Author

New York Times best selling author of more than a dozen books Frank Schaeffer is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director and producer of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as "pretty terrible," and a best selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Frank is the author of "And God Said, 'Billy!'" and many other books. Frank's three semi-biographical novels about growing up in a fundamentalist mission: "Portofino," "Zermatt" and "Saving Grandma" have a worldwide following and have been translated into nine languages. Jane Smiley writing in the Washington Post (7/10/11) says this of Frank's memoirs "Crazy For God" and "Sex, Mom and God": "[Schaeffer's] memoirs have a way of winning a reader's friendship...Schaeffer is a good memoirist, smart and often laugh-out-loud funny...Frank seems to have been born irreverent, but his memoirs have a serious purpose, and that is to expose the insanity and the corruption of what has become a powerful and frightening force in American politics... Frank has been straightforward and entertaining in his campaign to right the political wrongs he regrets committing in the 1970s and '80s...As someone who has made redemption his work, he has, in fact, shown amazing grace."


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