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Peter T Chattaway

frank(y) schaeffer

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I appreciate your perspective, Ellen.

I didn't live at L'Abri, but I did visit for a couple weeks (in the late '70s, no less; I wonder if we encountered each other without knowing it), and I lived in a Christian community for eight years that was closely modeled on L'Abri. Certainly Francis Schaeffer's books were accorded a level of authority and reverence that most churches reserve for the Bible.

For most of my Christian life I've been involved in churches where the arts are truly valued. And I don't mean that in a lip-service way, either. I mean it in the sense that there were and are actual artists hanging about the premises, and that some of them earned their living through their art, and that many others worked day jobs, but still derived a lot of their joy and sense of purpose from doing their art "on the side." These aren't folks who were recording CCM albums or painting "Jesus Over the UN" paintings, either. They were out there mingling with the rest of the artists of the world, selling their paintings in the local galleries, playing jazz in the local bars, etc. And they were doing so as Christians.

It's hard to trace a direct line back to L'Abri. That original church of L'Abri-influenced hippies morphed into a Vineyard megachurch of 11,000 people, and the arts-friendly church I'm now involved in is a church plant off of that megachurch. There have been many twists and turns along the way. But I've got to believe that my current church is as vibrant as it is (at least in terms of the arts) at least partly because of the L'Abri focus that is embedded deep within our spiritual DNA.

And so I honestly am grateful for Francis Schaeffer. I don't agree with everything he taught or wrote. I think he was woefully wrong on some things that concern the arts, in fact. He was, when it came right down to it, a product of his times and his influences, as we all are, and he was just as stuck in his own Arts Timewarp as all the whiney Baby Boomers I encounter who swear that it's all been downhill since Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin IV. It's just that his timewarp was the 1920s, and he couldn't see any good arising out of anything after Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong. And, like all theologically-inclined, dogmatic people, he had a tendency to enshrine his personal artistic preferences as Truth, and to write everything else off as the Work of the Devil, or at least Modern Man's Descent Into Despair. I don't begrudge him that. He was pretty human in that regard.

I do wish Frank(y) (getting back to the original topic) could step back from his wounded life and see his dad as most other Christians see him; as a flawed but good, and important, man.

In the late 70s, L'Abri was arguably "pro-art," but the kind of catch that Rich speaks of was definitely there. It was (more or less) fashionable to denigrate abstract art, composers like John Cage, etc. I'm embarrassed to admit that I joined the chorus, at Sunday afternoon high teas and such.

Hopefully, that's no longer true, but I wonder. I used to belong to a church where the arts were (supposedly) valued quite highly, but ran into the same kinds of things that Rich is talking about, albeit in a slightly different guise - outwardly, at least. It really was the same line of thinking that you see in the account of Jane Stuart Smith (etc. etc. etc.). People were "free" to produce art, but it had to meet certain standards, which weren't usually spelled out. One of those unspoken rules was that it had to advance the Gospel somehow or other.

And this place was (probably still is) "progressive" as far as the arts are concerned, or at least, the people who go there see their church in that way.

As for Franky's description of Jane as flamboyant, argumentative, etc., that's also (from my pov, with limited exposure) accurate, though she was very generous, too. Overall, quite theatrical, and a lot of fun. I never heard her lecture, but I do know that she tended to go off on passionate tangents about things like Communism at L'Abri staff meetings.

Maybe I should add that my personal experience of Swiss L'Abri (late 70s) was that it was a fairly demanding place with rigid rules about study, etc. Granted, things weren't terribly formal at the chalet where I lived, or (in general) during "off" hours, but students really didn't have that much down time. (I think.) it seemed as if there was almost an obligation to have intense, rather "heavy" discussions over meals and such. (Even fairly raw talk about abortion at breakfast, in one instance that I can recall. ;)) The only times that I felt like I could actually relax and just hang out with other students and workers were at places like John and Priscilla's chalet (on Saturdays, they put on informal dinners for students who wanted to come), and to some extent, at Jane and Betty's chalet. But - as Franky emphasizes in the quotes I linked to - both of these places were *not* really typical of Swiss L'Abri.

Overall, I feel as if I got more from the experience of visiting (while living in a nearby pension) than I did while actually living on the grounds. The lectures, meetings (etc.) were more easily digestible - for me personally - when I was able to walk off and think about them, as opposed to being immersed in them all day and night. This might just be due to my way of processing things, but having the freedom to go take a walk and draw (or take photographs) after a long discussion seemed far more freeing and helpful than going from one long discussion to another, and then another one after that... (I should add that I had the mistaken notion that I would be allowed some time during the day to work on art and photography, but that was definitely *not* part of the program at that time.)

Edited by Andy Whitman

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And so I honestly am grateful for Francis Schaeffer. I don't agree with everything he taught or wrote. I think he was woefully wrong on some things that concern the arts, in fact. He was, when it came right down to it, a product of his times and his influences, as we all are, and he was just as stuck in his own Arts Timewarp as all the whiney Baby Boomers I encounter who swear that it's all been downhill since Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin IV. It's just that his timewarp was the 1920s, and he couldn't see any good arising out of anything after Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong. And, like all theologically-inclined, dogmatic people, he had a tendency to enshrine his personal artistic preferences as Truth, and to write everything else off as the Work of the Devil, or at least Modern Man's Descent Into Despair. I don't begrudge him that. He was pretty human in that regard.

Not just whiney boomers. Anyone not having music, and progressive pop music in particular as an avocatiopn at least will be prey to the timewarp (then the timewarp will surface elsewhere, say movies or literature). He at least shined a light into exploration of taste that might not have occurred to some of the rest of us at the time. And humbly defended his habits, taste, and views against brothers in Christ who, clueless as to what he was getting at, challenged his immersion in "The World". He preached that too. So, he acted on what he preached as internal attitude. And that above all is what has stayed with me of his ministry and place in Church History.

FWIW, looking back, I wouldn't trade my time at TWR for anything. I don't look back much at all at what I shared in the above post. There are other things that "my biographer" might see as tangential to my real reason for being there, but it is those things that broadened me and make me what I am today.

I do wish Frank(y) (getting back to the original topic) could step back from his wounded life and see his dad as most other Christians see him; as a flawed but good, and important, man.

I don't see that happening. I think that he sees evangelicals as having known Francis fraudulently. And they are marginally legitimate at best in their faith. Besides, some of Francis' personal flaws are pretty large for a young boy to process. He's always had a love/hate relationship with both Francis and what he represents. Further, even with Frank's confessions, we have a rather limited view of Francis. There will always be something he sees and we don't. It's real personal for him.

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I have to get an actual copy of the book now. Like Rich, I'm fascinated, and have a feeling that this is (as Rich said) the therapy that wasn't done on the couch. I can't imagine growing up in that milieu and not having "issues" - which is in no way meant as a criticism of the Schaeffers and their associates.

I'd love to see your thoughts on it. I recommend reading it. I wanted to "review" the book when done, but I had pretty much said what I thought of the book here (in commenting on Frank himself) before I had read it. As an MK, I was rivitted and couldn't put it down. My father was not a screaming sort with demons. He repressed stuff. Horrible stuff. And was more remote than Francis ever was and just as obsessed with his mission. Frank and I otherwise had some similar childhoods. Oh, and my Dad was STRICT.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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I used to have a copy of a book he wrote that was privately printed, titled "Pearls Before Swine?" that was about the visual arts. It was a very painful and embarrassing tirade about the arts that was sent to every single member of CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) when it came out. AFAIK, the family didn't ever want to speak about it, or at least, udo adn Debbie didn't. (I was warned not to mention it to them while paying an evening visit to their house in NY state in 1990, with friends who knew them well.)

Sham Pearls for Real Swine?

I vaguely remember the book...I think my parents still have it on a shelf somewhere.

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It's very, very difficult for me to step back and take a look at Schaeffer's work from the perspective you have. (Though I will say that How Shall We Then Live? hit a lot of wrong notes for me when it was 1st published, as did the films, which were screened for the public in the Hu
Edited by Andy Whitman

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: Frank's extended, emotional interview with Terry Gross

Haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but the headline is interesting.

I can't comment on all the L'Abri stuff, but re: Franky's flight to Orthodoxy, I wonder what to make of the fact that he is (if memory serves) a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, as opposed to the Antiochian or American churches, etc. The stereotype of the Greek church, as it is expressed in North America, is that its members tend to be on the liberal mainline end of things, more interested in ethnic identity than in the gospel per se, whereas the Antiochian church and the OCA are more passionate about evangelism and going outside ethnic boundaries, etc. (Indeed, the OCA used to be a branch of the Russian church until it was granted independence -- "autocephaly", as we call it -- in 1970. And one of the reasons for giving the OCA independence was precisely so that it could evangelize Americans AS an American church.) Also, given Frank's "abortion should stay legal" stance, I cannot help but note that the OCA (but not, I think, the other Orthodox churches in America) instituted a special day for remembering the unborn, a move that some Greek Orthodox writers in America have criticized for being too political.

The Greeks, Antiochians and OCA are all in communion with one another, so we're all the same "church" in that sense. But due to certain historical problems, we are all governed by different entities -- the Greeks by the overseas Greeks, the Antiochians by the overseas Antiochians, and the OCA by ourselves (though we were governed by the overseas Russians until a few decades ago). Ideally, we should all be moving towards greater unity -- administrative and otherwise -- but there are still cultural differences that get in the way of that, alas. And attitudes towards the appropriate POLITICAL response to abortion may be part of that.

Ironic, given that the parent churches for all these communities used to be (and, in the case of the Greeks at least, still are) state churches of one sort or another.

Anyway. I don't mean to derail this thread into a discussion of either abortion or Orthodox jurisdictional politics, per se. I simply state all that because it provides a context of some sort for Frank's decisions to join the particular church that he did, and to make the statements about the pro-life movement that he does.

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And yet, in many ways, the portraits he presents of both his parents are hagiographic.

I'm surprised at this, but appreciate your saying it. I have no frame of reference for either of them other than public opinion and press accounts. However, many who had gone to L'Abri were offended at just this aspect of the book and the book has received withering attack because of the way Francis and Edith have been portrayed.

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What Rich mentioned earlier about the strong perfectionistic streak in many evangelical/fundamentalist circles is worth hearing more about. It's something that was more or less inculcated in me via my reading of both Schaeffers' work, as well as in the churches I belonged to from the early 70s on. I can say this much, from my own perspective: nobody can live up to those expectations, not the people making (preaching) them, and certainly not the ordinary mortals out there in the pews - or field, as the case may be.

I should long ago have added the caveat that I'm talking from personal experience on the perfectionism. I'd say that my wilderness experience is caught up much of the time in failing to make the perfectionism work and not questioning it. Stupid, blind me, but I should be careful not to make it a catchall observation about our faith. Still, it's there in the Scheaffer orbit and one would expect less prevalence of this in Reformed circles (as well as sacramental circles).

The sad thing is that those who set impossible standards are also very quick to judge those who appear to not be living up to them - but equally, they don't (almost can't) state that they fail, too, lest they seem to be "not godly enough" to lead, preach, etc. That's a pernicious thing, and it leads to the church shooting its own wounded - and maybe eating its own young. (Apologies for the shocking image there, but I believe there is a lot of truth to it.)

That can be a human failing. That's not unique to christians.

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By the time I got there, the Schaeffers had withdrawn from direct involvement, and most of them lived further up the mountain. (Except for Priscilla and John Sandri, who were in Hu

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Finally listened to the NPR interview. Had to laugh when Schaeffer talks about people wanting to touch him, just so they can say they have "touched a Schaeffer". Given that Schaeffer is Orthodox now, I'm sure that, on some level, he must appreciate the impulse to come into physical contact with the past (through relics etc.). But man, what a thing to have to endure. Especially when you are being touched not for your own sake, but because of who your long-dead parent was.

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As for the "tell all" bit, you know.... there were lots and lots of stories circulating about the Schaeffers, their daughters, and Franky. The longer you stayed there, the more you heard. It was very common for workers to talk about them in a confiding and/or offhand way. I'm sure Franky knows that all sorts of details of his family's life were grist for the conversation mill, then and now. That's one thing that makes me feel uneasy about Os's "rebuttal" in Books and Culture (not to mention his comments on Jeff Sharlet's review of the book on The New Statesman site). It's as if he felt it necessary to start posting his own versions of these stories.

It was these that compelled me to get the book and read it. Having done so, I came away suspicious of Guinness. Frank is what he is and is still something like what he always was, a pesky self absorbed guy who likes to stir the pot and that takes nothing away from the possible truth value of his accounts. It's just that while Os grants that he and Frank catted among the students, he's offended at what Frank says about all of that. Like an, "I smoked a joint, but didn't inhale." Why fuss at all? it was 35 to 40 years ago.

EDIT: I'm trying to get to the Fresh Air interview as well as your linked CT article (I might have read it at the time on deadtree). I've had to steal moments at the computer for the last few weeks.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Fwiw, I started looking over parts of Edith Schaeffer's book "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" (which used to be called "Hidden Art") via Google Book Search last night. It's been years and years since I cracked my own copy of this, so I didn't remember much of anything.

All I can say is that both Frank and Debby (writing for Frank's memoir; the text is in CFG) are right about the perfectionism and much more. Their mom presented a lot of good ideas in the book, but she used all kinds of anecdotes about her family to illustrate how wonderful things could be (naming names, too). Here's the opening of on 'graph (emphases mine):

Christian homes should not be places where nothing but a bit of sentimental or romantic music is heard, but places where there is the greatest variety of good music, so that natural talent may find the necessary spark to set it on fire.

I know that she meant no harm in making statements like these, but the not-so-veiled subtext of the book is that everyone should do what she and her family do, in everything from making colorful, arty menus for Sunday high teas (the reference is that specific, btw) to... well, everyone should raise their children in the way that she raised hers, and in the way that her grandchildren were being raised.

No wonder I used to feel like I could never keep up, no matter what I did. (I'm not blaming E. Schaeffer for that - her books upped the ante that was already present in my own life, perhaps much more than I realized at the time.) There's a presupposition that all Christians should have a superb arts education that should be passed on to their children - another "should" that ... well. I feel badly for her, because there seems to be so much that she wanted to do, or at least try to do. But "the Work" came first, so she didn't have her own studio, couldn't take time off to draw, paint and whatever else she wanted to do. the thought of this makes me sad.

I read that book a long time ago as well. I remember thinking two things: 1) Edith is an awful writer (worse than Francis, and that's saying something; he had great ideas that he expressed woodenly), and 2) Edith models a view of womanhood from which I want to run shrieking the other way.

For me, Edith was only a conservative step above the Marabel Morgan/Total Woman/Greet Your Husband At The Door Dressed Only in Saran Wrap school of Christian "feminism." Yikes. A Bible-believing Stepford Wife; just what I was looking for. And that meek, submissive, but demurely artsy message was woven throughout Edith's book.

I wanted to throw the book across the room. I'm sure she meant well. I'm also hoping her book goes out of print.

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But in Frank's account of Edith, she was NOTHING like that at all. And here's why I say a resounding "Thank You!" to Frank for his comic novels and his inside account of L'Abri. It is human nature to gloss, buff, puff, and otherwise put one's best foot forward for those who help pay the bills. In the case of the Scheaffers it was supporters, former students, and old friends. Supporters, former students, and old friends could easily find copies of this stuff as well as Francis' books. Thus an industry continues in presenting a romaniticized and Bowdlerized notion of what life on the missionfield, "fulltime christian service". or ideal womanhood/christian family life for the masses. As I recall, evangelicals ate it up and guest preachers made self deprecating cracks about Francis' work being a bit above their heads.

Christianity has never been Barbi- and Ken-like, nor has it been about the Scheaffer's opposite, namely the plodding smallminded "everything I need to know I can find in the Bible" churchianity as well. Existentially, it is every conceivable variation in between and plenty of stuff outside this spectrum. It always has been about putting Him first and doing His bidding. How that works out in daily life is quite a challenge without all of this added baggage that the Church adds, as well as one's own baggage. This other stuff leaks out all over the place. In Edith's case, it seemed to involve some romantic notion of patrician duty and elegance even on a faith mission budget. The more folks get to know the Lord in dailly life and understand their own weaknesses and potential, the more this stuff can be resisted. There's a reason why these other books have slid beneath attention as time goes by.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Andy, I agree with Rich that Edith was not like that, although it might appear that way. She came from another era, really - and a cultural milieu that has little to do with US society as it's been since (I'm guessing here) the Second World War. High tea, incorporating the arts into daily life: an emulation of the Victorian and Edwardian iupper classes, maybe? (With a bit of those "gracious living" courses that used to be taught at the Seven Sisters colleges thrown in?) It seems to jive with what young upper and upper middle-class women were taught (at home and at "female seminaries") in earlier times: dancing, drawing, watercolor, keyboard instruments, etc. - like you'd find in a lot of 19th-c. novels. Edith didn't grow up in the US, either... so there's a kind of romanticism (I think) in her ideas that probably has at least something to do with what she imagined people "back home" were doing.

Victorian. Edith grew up in China. I believe that it was her learned step-father who as a mirrionary there cultivated this high way of living. With servants of course. Frank seems to argue that Francis' working class background gave Edith even more of a mandate to do a cultivated home. That's another thing. Being a missionary in an affluent European nation is not the same thing living standardswise as being a missionary in the third world or developing world. This made what she was attempting doubley hard to do.

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So although I can see that the Edith quotes that have been used in reviews (and in Os's piece) make her look flaky, that's only one facet of her personality. I don't doubt the veracity of Frank's account on that score, especially because he works very hard to try and present a well-rounded picture of both his parents.

I could easily do the same with my parents. I had to be real careful talking to Mom during "The Wilderness". She could go from normal to syrupy/sentimentally spiritual in seconds. It drove some folks crazy, but that was her. Dad doesn't talk that way, but writes on spiritual things in a style from a long gone era. Intelligent and spiritually experienced folks talked like that when their faith came to maturity back in the day. They never shook it off. What made it hard for me to take was the Headmaster at the gulag (the one saving grace at the place). He constantly drove us to explain our faith in such a way that "Herkemer from Asheville High School over there in the corner can understand you." Herk would not have lasted two minutes with my folks. In that context, Edith's wierd way of talking about intimate things was just Edith. My folks were just as wierd sometimes, but in a different way. Like I say, that was then. This is now. Things have changed drastically since the '60's and '70's.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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I agree, nardis, with Calvin's appeal. He has an amazing joy for living, and some of the coming-of-age aspects of Portofino were wonderful, but the rest of the characters in the book frustrated me to no end.

The rest of Calvin's family seemed to me to exist only as cardboard cutouts for Schaeffer to blast holes in - especially his mother. The woman had no redeeming qualities; she existed as extreme fundamentalist stereotype, and then, as if Frank realized this, is pushed into

an affair

. The father fairs only slightly better, as his hike with Calvin helps to humanize him a little, though apart from that, he's no more of a real person than the father from The Poisonwood Bible. Calvin's family exists solely to inspire score, from Calvin and from us.

It might be a different story if people like this actually existed, but growing up an MK in Nigeria in what was considered to be one of the more conservative missions serving in that country, I never met anyone who made me want to roll my eyes like Calvin's family did.

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I agree that these characters are played for comedy, but to me it's a cheap joke. The mother is funny, but she's not a person. As I said, my main criticism of the book is that Calvin is the only one of the main characters who is believable. It's like he's living in a cartoon world. Which is fine as far as that goes, but the bigger picture that I get from the book is that it says, "The fundamentalist evangelical family is a cartoon world." And then you have the problem of the father, who is decidedly not funny (unless unbridled rage and domestic violence tickles you for some reason.) That the mother's humor and the father's unfunniness come from the same place (the satirization of the fundamentalist family) also makes it difficult. That is, you have to take the father seriously because of the seriousness of his flaws and their effects on the people around him, and if you take him seriously, it's difficult not to take the mother seriously also, but her character just doesn't work on anything but a cartoon-level.

I think that a comparable book in this regard is Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (one sane man in the middle of maddening chaos), but I think the difference is the skill with which the respective authors use pathos to humanize the madness that surrounds the main character. To me, Schaeffer is ham-handed here in his use of

the affair subplot

.

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It could very well be that it's my own response to the book that is flawed rather than the book itself, but when I read it, the only thing I could feel towards Calvin's family is contempt. The one scene that broke me out of this response was the hike that Calvin's father takes with him, but for me that was too little, too late.

Maybe that's what I mean about them not seeming like real people, is that the book didn't allow me to make any kind of nuanced response to them. As I said, maybe this is just a reflection of a lack of sympathetic will on my part, but if Calvin is a stand-in for Frank I don't see much sympathy coming from the author either.

Edited by solishu

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Frank Schaeffer has a new book, Patience with God. Here's an excerpt entitled 'Spaceship Jesus Will Come Back and Whisk Us Away'. He's promoting the book at various points around the country. An audio recording of a public reading by Schaeffer is available here. (FWIW, I have not heard it in its entirety yet.)

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Here's an excerpt entitled 'Spaceship Jesus Will Come Back and Whisk Us Away'. He's promoting the book at various points around the country. An audio recording of a public reading by Schaeffer is available here. (FWIW, I have not heard it in its entirety yet.)

He's wrong about Anglican churches only reading Revelation during Advent (why THAT during ADVENT anyway?) He might be correct about common practice today, but as our parish follows the old yearly calender contained in the old 1928 BCP (superseded by the 1979, but the '28 is faithful to the original 1662 which I have not seen), we read ch.7, or part of it for The Feast of All Souls at the beginning of this month. The text of The 144,000.

I read a smidgen of your link. It is an exceedingly common trashing of pre-tribulational Dispensationalism, but done as only Frank can trash something, complete with the acknowledgement that he has known La Haye and Jenkens for decades now and once worked with each of them and grants their probable sincerity. Heh heh. Only Franky. Only Franky (I use the belittled form of his name only when overly exasperated and disgusted with the situation, usually of his causing. I don't like to use it).

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Rich Kennedy wrote:

: He's wrong about Anglican churches only reading Revelation during Advent (why THAT during ADVENT anyway?)

Knowing as next-to-nothing about Anglican liturgical practices as I do, I would hazard this guess: There is a passage in Revelation about a woman giving birth -- with, I think, a dragon waiting to pounce on her and/or the child -- and this passage is typically interpreted as a reference to the birth of Christ, and possibly also to Herod's slaughter of the innocents. Is it that passage which gets highlighted (highlit?) during Advent?

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Aaauuugghh! Left my Prayer Book at church on Sunday. Will be there tomorrow night (150th ann. of the first service in the "new chapel" consecrated by the bishop of Michigan at the time).

I doubt that is an Advent reference. I will report on this as soon as I have a BCP with which to do so. While historically, Anglicans have been forthright about appreciation and mastery of scripture (the BCP itself is a masterful weaving of scripture into prayer and liturgy), they are oddly squeamish about scripture for ceremonial purposes. There is a lot of editting of passages for the Lessons. Sometimes for brevity (the Rev 7 passage referred to above deletes the detail of just who are the 144,000, ie. 12,000 each of the Twelve Tribes) and from a certain POV, a logical edit. But there are other reasons apparantly. The more I study ahead for Children's Church, the more I find. The universal three year lectionary has many edits as well.

I am what the great scholar Raymond Brown would call a biblicist. I cringe at the editting of scripture. Skipping around in a passage lends itself to proof texting and bending for the purposes of the editor. I'm paranoid that way. dry.gif

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I just finished reading Addicted to Mediocrity: Contemporary Christians and the Arts for the very first time. I realize he later miserably failed at making a couple films, but that doesn't make what he has to say here any less true. (Filmmaking, unless you count the documentary for his father How Then Shall We Live?, just wasn't his talent.) I couldn't resist posting this excerpt for everyone. I think it sums up our community's philosophy on a couple things nicely:

pgs. 116-117

First, we must realize that our environment, what we surround ourselves with, look at, enjoy, absorb, consciously or unconsciously, all affects us far more than we think. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to realize that our home, the materials it is made of, decorated with, what we read, look at, enjoy, where we worship, entertainment, etc. all add up to a great force in our life for good or evil, depending on what we have chosen.

Home environment, decoration, what you watch or do not watch on TV (if any), magazines, the newspaper, books we read, etc. - all must be chosen with great care indeed. When we watch something or read something, we should discuss it. If you do not have time to discuss and analyze what you are reading, watching, looking at, observing, then you do not have time to watch it. For me, that is a rule. No time to discuss, then no time to watch.

Many people, through lack of understanding of the importance of their environment, allow themselves to be partially handicapped by what they look at. For some, it will be a long hard road to undo the damage of the thick calloused insensitivity developed inside themselves from unthinkingly watching any and all things on television, or by never questioning the aesthetic effects of the various materials used to build or to decorate their home (e.g., surrounding themselves with plastic imitations instead of natural things, and allowing the worst of Christian art to infiltrate their homes in the form of magazines, books, pictures on their walls, TV and so forth). All this can add up to a terrible handicap in terms of seeing real beauty, worth, integrity, and in developing a true sense of quality in one's personal taste. An active effort must be made to roll back time in order to be able to discern and nurture an appreciation of quality in each area. Since so much of the output of the church is poor, we should be especially careful to keep it away from us. Don't let your images and ideas about God himself and truth be polluted by mediocre teaching, magazines, books, radio, and TV. Christian rubbish is the most destructive of all. Keep away from it, stop your ears, cover your eyes.

Here, there is not time to go into further detail, except to say that the main point, once again, is your environment. What you watch, what you absorb mentally does contribute to who you are as a person, your understanding of the world around you, of other people, and of God. It is important. What you surround yourself with will either enrich your life, or impoverish you. It will either bring you closer to God's whole world, other people, beauty, and aesthetic enjoyment, or put a barrier between you and these things. The main point is this: take what you surround yourself with seriously, take what you watch seriously. You can't breathe poisonous air and get away with it. Similarly, do not think you can get away with living in a shoddy environment, dedicated to mediocrity, even if the ingredients come marked as "Christian."

Edited by Persiflage

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That was a really ugly personal attack. I'm sure Franklin Graham deserves some kind of reprimand for involving himself in the birther controversy, but I'm not sure it warrants quite this level of vitriol. The subtext seems to be: "I, Franky, am profoundly disappointed that Graham didn't turn out more like me."

I was also a little surprised to see Franky calling the Bible "horribly flawed" or whatever the phrase was. Is that an official Orthodox point of view? Perhaps evangelicals have subjected the Bible to some unrealistic expectations, but I wouldn't blame the Bible for that.

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