Book review re Frank Schaeffer’s “Crazy for God”

Frank Schaeffer is the son of Francis Schaeffer who was a leading spokesman and intellectual for the Christian Right in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.  Frank himself was groomed in his childhood as their heir apparent for his father and did indeed step into that role as a young man.  But, safely ensconced in that prominent position, he became disaffected and disillusioned by the bigotry and closed-mindedness that he witnessed and eventually left the fold.  But, if that wasn’t enough, he began to speak and write about what he witnessed during his youth, not just with the Christian Right, but with his family itself.  His book, 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” is the story of his “conversion” from hyper-fundamentalist Christianity and political conservatism to a pronounced liberal stance in both regards.  If you are an ex-fundamentalist, or if you are a fundamentalist who would deign to look critically at yourself, you really need to read this book.

Politically and familial-ly his book is a story of a standard dysfunctional family, a family trapped inside its own limited world-view and incapable of dealing honestly and openly with the world.  Families of this sort are in service to the myth that they are caught up in and dutifully dedicate themselves to perpetuating that myth even at the expense of its members own soul. Yes, it is sheer lunacy at times.

However, let me note that the “lunacy” presented here cannot compare with the lunacy I noted last week when I discoursed re Muslim culture from the perspective of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Any closed-mindedness veers toward lunacy and will end up there unless reality sets in.  But, I much prefer our culture’s conservative lunacy over that of the Muslim world.  There are more limits set here, largely by the power of a liberal and critical press.


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