Crazy for God (a must read for the de-converting)

December 2, 2008 at 6:21 pm 7 comments

I just finished reading Frank Schaeffer’s memoirs 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. I knew of Frank and his father Francis Schaeffer but arrived on the evangelical scene after the rise of the religious right was in full swing. I could not put this book down for a week. It details the childhood and adolescence of Frank in the Schaeffer home of L’Abri in Switzerland where he grew up and the rise of his family in the evangelical community. It is brutally honest, eye-opening, at times laugh out loud funny, and heart breaking.

400_crazy-for-godI enjoyed the book most for being a personal story of someone else on a similar journey as my own, for the same reasons I enjoy de-conversion.com. It is incredibly helpful and psychologically healthy to know that I am not alone in my questions and struggles with faith, doubt, and reason. While all of us end up on different ends of the theological spectrum between devotion and atheism, we share a common journey, common experiences, and a common voice.

I appreciate most from Frank’s book his acknowledgement that this is his life’s story as he sees it now. He recognizes that all our perspectives are skewed knowingly or unknowingly and always written or told from the vantage point of the moment. He says asking the question “who are you?” is insufficient. The necessary question to follow that is “when?” He realizes that as individuals we are in a state of flux throughout our lives and likely to be very different from even ourselves at various times in our lives.

Near the end of the book Frank discloses that he is plugging away at faith, in part, through his conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church mostly because he says, “the Orthodox idea of a slow journey to God, wherein no one is altogether instantly ’saved’ or ‘lost’ and nothing is completely resolved in this life (and perhaps not in the next), mirrors the reality of how life works, at least as I’ve experienced it.” That makes a lot of sense to me, and while I vascilate daily between belief and unbelief, mystery and reason, life is, if nothing else, a journey on which I am trying to grow and learn and become all that I can while I can. This book is a welcome stepping stone along the way.

- Lyndon

Entry filed under: Lyndon. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jeffrey  |  December 2, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    I’ll have to check out the book. I first heard about it through an excellent hour-long interview with Frank on the radio: http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_WV.aspx?episode=29864

    It’s more about the political implications of the religious right than religion itself.

  • 2. LeoPardus  |  December 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I can’t see myself reading this, but it does look interesting. I read his book “Letters to Father Aristotle” right when I became Orthodox. He is an interesting writer.

    Loved this bit from one of the reviews on the page you linked. “[Frank] still has a way of hitting the nail right on the head, only to turn around and sling the hammer at some innocent bystander.” :)

    Yep. That’s Frank. Shoots from the lip and almost always hits something.

  • 3. DSimon  |  December 5, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    “Shoots from the lip?”

    I don’t care if that was a typo, I’m declaring it a neologism. And, if it wasn’t a typo, then I commend your cleverness in declaring it first.

  • 4. LeoPardus  |  December 5, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Alas, that I could claim the credit. I can’t remember where I first heard the expression, but I must admit that it’s not original with me. I like it though, so I pull it out once in a while. :)

  • 5. Josh  |  December 6, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Hips? Lips? Both are right next to cheeks, I guess.

    Anyway, this article was intriguing: thank you for sharing!

  • 6. peridot  |  December 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks, Lyndon, for letting me know about this book. I hadn’t heard of it, and now I may just have to read it. I was greatly influenced by Francis Schaeffer Sr. in the 80’s and early 90’s. I think I read everything he wrote and even slogged through Edith’s interminable (i) The Tapestry (/i). Now that I no longer have the fundamentalist perspective, it is fascinating to me that their own son would write a book about them from a non-fundie perspective.

    This is what I love about this site. There are just some things that hold a special interest for people like us.

    Also, I love the title of this book. The farther I get away from it all, the more it seems to me that I used to be ‘crazy for god’ too. Francis Schaeffer had a true, marvelous understanding of history and art, but there was something a little crazy about him too. I’m so glad I don’t believe any of that anymore.

  • 7. atimetorend  |  March 30, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Half way through the book after three days. It is a great read, there are so many things I like about it.

    I have especially enjoyed a couple of his chapters where he outlines the rise of the evangelical movement along with the religious right. He understands the movement very well and articulately describes it. But it is his unique position of being able to describe it as an outsider and an insider at the same times which makes it especially valuable. It’s like he is critical of it, but it is almost part of who he is at the same time.

    I also have enjoyed the insiders perspective into his parents personas of course. While he is critical in many ways, he does a great job of highlighting their good points and especially their humanity; real people outside of the pressure-cooker of other’s expectations for their lives.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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