Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Peter T Chattaway

frank(y) schaeffer

Recommended Posts

Christian, in this lies a worthy discussion topic. They are obviously thinly veiled, as is the POV of a cloistered-doesn't-miss-a-thing pubescent boy. The question is, does such implied revelation and the possible further upfront revelations really corrupt the legacy? I always thought that evangelical expectations for pastors and their families were so impossibly idealistic and unrealistic that I never ever wanted the job. I always thought that the Scheaffers were expected to conform to worse. Does it really mess up the legacy to realize that humans with egos and sins existed behind the public facade? Can this sort of thing waft fresh air on the image to which ministers and religious must conform?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Christian, in this lies a worthy discussion topic. They are obviously thinly veiled, as is the POV of a cloistered-doesn't-miss-a-thing pubescent boy. The question is, does such implied revelation and the possible further upfront revelations really corrupt the legacy? I always thought that evangelical expectations for pastors and their families were so impossibly idealistic and unrealistic that I never ever wanted the job. I always thought that the Scheaffers were expected to conform to worse. Does it really mess up the legacy to realize that humans with egos and sins existed behind the public facade? Can this sort of thing waft fresh air on the image to which ministers and religious must conform?

I think much would depend upon the tone that Schaeffer uses to describe these scenes. But I don't think such a thinly-veiled approach would mess up the legacy so much as provide an unfortunate commentary on Frank(y) Schaeffer. Yes, Christian leaders are human, and they sin. And if Frank(y) describes his fictional Christian leaders as wearing beards and knickers, then he needs to go to counseling, not write novels. He also needs to gain some perspective. There are plenty of people in the world whose parents were philandering adulterers and violent alcoholics. Many of them seem to have recovered and are leading normal lives. It's difficult to sympathize with a middle-aged whiner whose dad and mom happened to be flawed, imperfect, and perfectly wonderful Christians.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try not to idolize people, and I wouldn't put his parents on a pedestal. I doubt that's what they would've wanted for themselves. Maybe I'm wrong. But judging from what I know of his parents, and what I know of Franky, I'm more willing to believe the apparent "myths" of so many others who speak glowingly of the parents than I am the first-hand stories of the angry son.

I think, however, that I've opened a can of worms better left sealed until the release of Franky's book, and even then, maybe best left undiscussed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK. You two have gone back to some form of "Franky" in referring to him. Having watched him for a while, I see a difference between Franky and Frank. Frank has been in and out of the movie business and created a reasonably comfortable life for himself as an author. He probably still feels as he always had on abortion, but has channeled his anger. He surprisingly evolved with respect to a prized son becoming a Marine, rather than going to college from the springboard of a respected Ivy League feeder prep. He went from "not-in-my-family" to understanding father to writing at least two books on the process with his son that are well respected.

And remember, it was Francis that chose the Eidelweiss goatee and leather shorts for a uniform, not his son. Most fathers not given to elegant wardrobes embarrass their sons with their choices. Mine did. And mine wasn't so ostentatiously eccentric with his (words fail me, to use the word "choices" gives Dad too much credit for putting any thought into what he wears other than to avoid getting arrested for not covering himself) .... I of course, am something of a clothes horse.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sadly, the trend toward associating Francis Schaeffer with theonomy is heating up. Douglas LeBlanc:

Schaeffer affirmed the common Christian belief that Jesus is Lord of all creation. Nothing in his work suggests, however, that Christians therefore ought to establish a theocracy in the United States or any other nation, much less to gather stones to hurl at anyone. I

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sadly, the trend toward associating Francis Schaeffer with theonomy is heating up. Douglas LeBlanc:

Schaeffer affirmed the common Christian belief that Jesus is Lord of all creation. Nothing in his work suggests, however, that Christians therefore ought to establish a theocracy in the United States or any other nation, much less to gather stones to hurl at anyone. I

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Besides, L'Abri is now an industry and institution in and of itself and I don't mean that in a bad way. When you are starting from scratch on an eccentric ministry, there is no "book" to go by. A lot falls through the cracks and gets pinched between the floorboards, so to speak.

I've actually felt this a lot at L'Abri. When I came, nobody knew we were coming, and everyone kind of expected us to know how to fit in, as if people just know what L'Abri is about before they come. It's not as much a place where people pass through anymore. And to be honest, I don't think there are any non-Christians here. It's become a little bit of a bubble, to be honest.

And that's not a terrible thing. There's a lot of good Christian discussion here. But I think it's a far cry from the original Swiss L'Abri vision that the Schaeffers had, and very different than what I expected from reading the Schaeffer's work. It's much more individual; it feels as if there's almost a defined distance between the students and the workers. My perception of L'Abri from reading the Schaeffer's stuff was that L'Abri was supposed to be a family-run organization, and was much more about helping students to come to terms with their faith. There's much more focus on the schedule, in terms of study and work, and not a lot of community-type interaction with the workers. That may be more my fault for not being intentional about developing friendships. But I also feel like there's a semi-defined heirarchy that people are expected to follow.

I don't mean to be negative about L'Abri either. There's a lot of good that goes on here. Just some things I've noted during my stay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You -- was your critique addressing the Keyes' house? I only stayed overnight once, but visited unnerable times, although at the first visit I was brough by a friend who knew the place (and was with a group of about six folks).

Maybe it was a New England thing--we're not very friendly, y'know.

Not trying to critique, more offer some observations. Actually, I'm in Greatham, "Old" England. Over here for a two-month internship in Cambridge with this organization. They suggested we (my sister and I) start with a two-week stay at L'Abri.

I don't think that it's about people being cold or rude, but rather there's just a feeling of complacency, or that things are so in-grown that you either jump into the system, or sit on the outside and feel neglected. Not a bad thing, but only works for certain people; most of the students here are people who have come numerous times before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a side, I've only got limited access to wireless, so my responses might be a couple days apart. Sorry! I have to run up to the local pub where they have free wireless, and I can only get up once every couple days. Anyway, I'm about to take off, and I'm not purposely neglecting this conversation! Perhaps this is a way that L'Abri should change: Open, free wireless system!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Indeed. Even at his most overtly political (e.g., A Christian Manifesto), Schaeffer based his arguments on the foundation of law in the western world. He was a fan of democracy, not theocracy. Having said that, some of Schaeffer's hyper-Reformed followers (e.g., Dr. Greg Bahnsen) went down the path of theocracy. But it's hardly fair to pin that on Schaeffer.

Was Bahnsen a follower? I didn't know that. His father-in-law was the Roussas Roshdouney the sort of founder of modern theonomy. I figured he'd always been in that camp.

Anyway, yes. You are quite right about Scheaffer. He was a fan of Scottish Reformed thought in theology and politics. He quoted Lex Rex often in his political stuff. The author's name escapes me. OTOH, even Pat Robertson has borrowed from theonomy in the past. I don't know if some evangelicals get a whif and run with it, or there is theonomy leaking into some unusual areas. APB, where are you when we need you?

Joel (whenever you can get to this, not rush): My comments about not having a book to go by refers to the Scheaffer ministry and that young Frank probably fell through the cracks. I sympathize because I felt the same way at TWR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sadly, the trend toward associating Francis Schaeffer with theonomy is heating up. Douglas LeBlanc:

Schaeffer affirmed the common Christian belief that Jesus is Lord of all creation. Nothing in his work suggests, however, that Christians therefore ought to establish a theocracy in the United States or any other nation, much less to gather stones to hurl at anyone. I

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Indeed. Even at his most overtly political (e.g., A Christian Manifesto), Schaeffer based his arguments on the foundation of law in the western world. He was a fan of democracy, not theocracy. Having said that, some of Schaeffer's hyper-Reformed followers (e.g., Dr. Greg Bahnsen) went down the path of theocracy. But it's hardly fair to pin that on Schaeffer.

Was Bahnsen a follower? I didn't know that. His father-in-law was the Roussas Roshdouney the sort of founder of modern theonomy. I figured he'd always been in that camp.

Anyway, yes. You are quite right about Scheaffer. He was a fan of Scottish Reformed thought in theology and politics. He quoted Lex Rex often in his political stuff. The author's name escapes me. OTOH, even Pat Robertson has borrowed from theonomy in the past. I don't know if some evangelicals get a whif and run with it, or there is theonomy leaking into some unusual areas. APB, where are you when we need you?

Joel (whenever you can get to this, not rush): My comments about not having a book to go by refers to the Scheaffer ministry and that young Frank probably fell through the cracks. I sympathize because I felt the same way at TWR.

The Lex Rex (1644) author is Rev Samuel Rutherford. And yes, Schaeffer is quite fond of his ideas. I've never read Lex Rex, but I did skim it online, and from a very cursory overview I think it's fair to say that theonomists would be big fans of Rev. Rutherford.

Nevertheless, I don't think Schaeffer was directly advocating theonomy.

As someone whose early Christian life was heavily influenced by Francis Schaeffer and by the L'Abri model of house churches, I can certainly sympathize with those who " fell through the cracks" in the midst of those who were attempting to re-enact "the New Testament Church" and reinvent a 2,000-year-old wheel. It takes enormous energy to struggle through every doctrinal issue that the Church has ever faced, energy that was lost on the little kids who wondered where dad and mom were when they needed them, and I've seen a lot of children of those zealous '70s Jesus Freaks who have either left the Church altogether, or who have reacted the other way and headed to the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, where there is little to no debate about those issues. I assume that that's at least part of what is behind both Frank's current theological beliefs and his (at least former) vehemence toward his upbringing.

There was a lot of good that came out of that time, but there were casualties as well. Frank may be one of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Was Bahnsen a follower? I didn't know that. His father-in-law was the Roussas Roshdouney the sort of founder of modern theonomy. I figured he'd always been in that camp.

You're certainly right about the Roussas Rushdoony connection.

Dr. Greg Bahnsen taught at Ashland Theological Seminary when I was a student there in the early '80s. I think I still have his weighty, 800-page tome Theonomy and Christian Ethics gathering dust on a bookshelf somewhere in my house. He was (and is, as far as I know) a good man and a fine teacher, but crazy as a loon, and seemingly confused about the nature of (then) 20th-century America and 9th-century-B.C. Israel. What made this strange situation even stranger is that he taught at ATS, a Brethren seminary, and part of the Anabaptist theological tradition -- about as far removed from the kind of hyper-Calvinism he was advocating as can be imagined. Needless to say, he didn't stick around Ashland very long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He lasted at RTS all of one year. His exit was very controversial, with his followers claiming RTS couldn't answer Bahsen's arguments, and so forced him out.

Several years ago I was assigned a Bahnsen text, "Always Ready" (I think that's the name of the book) in an RTS class.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank Schaeffer has a new book coming out in October. I read a short review of it in Kirkus and it sounds interesting. I'm not sure what the final title is (probably what is on Amazon) -

Amazon - 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

Kirkus - Crazy for God: How I Helped Found the Religious Right and Ruin America

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I. Want. This. Book! Scheaffer and I have similar life and faith trajectories. Similar, though he embarked on his move away long before I did. This could not have come out at a better time for me as my Church is in upheaval and am in daily dialog/argument with other Episcopalians who are more hot and bothered than I. Excellent timing Mr. Scheaffer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EDIT: Oh, Lord. I posted the above exchange as soon as I read it, before I'd completed the interview. Now comes this:

Describe the best breakfast of your life.

Champagne and caviar shared with my wife Genie while we were in bed (sometime in the 1970s). We were in our early twenties and my art teacher had advised us on the menu, gave us the champagne, the caviar and told me to try it for breakfast. The fact that he had once worked as a cameraman for the Nazis didn't spoil the meal. Genie is beautiful and was naked. The mountains in the background were themselves: the Rhone Valley with its patchwork of fields, orchards, roads and villages miles below, up to the flower-studded hayfields and steep forest-clad hills behind our village topped off by the peaks towering over everything. The champagne was dry, and Genie tasted like caviar when I kissed her.

Dare I continue with the Q&A? I will. I must. But I won't keep updating this post. Read the Q&A if you can stomach it.

Well, and according to this review, at least, Schaeffer spends some time in Crazy for God discussing his own masturbatory practices.

Umm ... not a book I will be buying!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Holy fools

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 ideological, guide him down a path from which he'd spent his whole life struggling to get off.

Jeff Sharlet, New Statesman, October 25

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dare I continue with the Q&A? I will. I must. But I won't keep updating this post. Read the Q&A if you can stomach it.

Sorry that I missed this before. Come on, it's (the interview) is not that bad. I will buy this book, if only to answer for myself if he actually catalogs and explains these lies he refers to early on in the interview. I expected him to proceed to beat up on much of Protestant Christendom, but he shares odd stories of an easily characatured figurehead. His deconstruction of a prayer circle then set me up for the surprise of his book choices at the end. The guy knows how to "sell" through misdirection! That is a talent that should never be underestimated. Another reason to read the book.

As to that breakfast, can anyone denie its greatness? It might be unseemly to share it in that context, however, would Norman Mailer, off the top of my head, have been so chaste in the telling? Would he have recounted such a thing about his wife, as opposed to a lover? Maybe the latter. He is kind of an evangelical Norman Mailer.

OTOH, what we have is a clearly scarred grandpa (internally and externally) making peace with those scars and possibly sending an emotional mesage to his children and grandchildren about love and dreams and the staying power of all those things and memories too. He never was one to edit himself well in conversation. The question was asked and the connection was right there in the forefront of his mind.

EDIT: The cynic in me just now suggested he offered the question. I don't know if that is a standard question from that interviewer or that feature.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John W. Whitehead interviews Frank Schaeffer for the Rutherford Institute ("The point is that I was there working with Frank and his father. Thus, I can validate what Frank in Crazy for God writes about their influence on religion and eventually politics in America").

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The first book is certainly vivid, all right. I just finished reading Portofino and I kept wondering, the whole time I was reading it, what Schaeffer's surviving family members make of it. Surely Schaeffer could not possibly have written this book without knowing that many people would assume, rightly or wrongly, that he was airing his family's dirty laundry. I haven't got a clue how much of this book is autobiographical and how much of it is fictional, but I am very curious to learn, now -- I simply could not read about Dad's "Moods" or Mom's excessive piety (and adulterous flirtations!) without thinking of Francis (whose films I saw at school shortly after he died) and Edith (who spoke at my church once). Schaeffer does a very good job of capturing the fundamentalist, narrow-minded attitude of a certain section of the Christian subculture -- and it's not too hard to see that he's drawing a metaphorical parallel between the constant division and multiplication of Protestant sects and the ever-present threat of a marital split between Dad and Mom -- but I was curious to see if we'd ever catch a glimpse of Dad doing something more like, I dunno, appreciating the arts or something.

I just finished Saving Grandma (Christams gift), set in Switzerland and "L'Arche". Talk about sending up church splits! Dad is constantly sparring with the Mission Board of the (seriously) P.C.C.C.C.U.S.A. with which the "Vineyard Laborers" of L'Arche are affiliated. The story is part sendup of mid-century American evangelicalism/fundamentalism and part adolescent fantasy. The only problem I have with it is 15 year old Calvin Becker's at once knowing and seemingly barely pubecent POV. Despite being functionally illiterate, one would expect a 15 year old to be a little more sophisticated about the ways of the world. OTOH, sheltered, smothered by practically adult sisters. I don't know. Portofino should be arriving soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...