Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review: 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 by Frank Shaeffer

In the last few days, I've been reading this very interesting book.  I had seen Frank Shaeffer several times on shows like Rachel Maddow and on YouTube.  I was very interested in his points of view considering that he is a left leaning Christian, I guess you could say.

I was even more intrigued when I learned about his past, how he was the son of the late great evangelical theologian Francis Shaeffer, though after reading this book, he might just be late, but everyone has their flaws.  The subtitle really explains a lot.  Frank was the one or one of the main ones who brought the abortion issue into the mainstream conservative religious right playbook.

Frank grew up in Switzerland, the child of two evangelical royalty as he calls them.  Of the many things I learned from this book was a couple of ways how not to raise your children.  Frank was for most of his childhood given the run of the land and little education.  It also didn't help that he had dyslexia.

He doesn't hide much, talking about how controlling, hyperspiritualized, and condescending his mother was, and how abusive his father was toward his mother.  He also tells about his own inheritance of these traits, how mean he was to his wife and children.  He also tells how his parents were uncommonly kind and understanding to people commonly rejected outright by the contemporary American church.  There don't seem to be any subjects that Frank doesn't cover, including masturbation, spousal abuse, and a crush he had on a star of one of his movies.

He talks about his abandoned art career, his successful professional Christian career, his failed movie director career, and finally his success and contentment as an author and conversion to the Greek Orthodox church.

Most interesting was the inner workings for the christian right movement which has taken political power for the past few decades.  It was very interesting to learn the history, the behind the scenes wrangling, attitudes, and control.  

I would recommend this book to anyone.  It's the real life story of real life people whose fingerprints on society have shaped history for decades and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  This book gets pretty real, there's swearing, there's sex, there's yelling, and there's the behind the scenes lives of revered people.  9/10.


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