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Sex, Mom, and God Hardcover – 23 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (23 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306819287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306819285
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,373,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Kirkus Reviews," 5/15/11"The book shines in sections centered on Edith, a 'life-embracing free spirit'...A consummate memoirist, Schaeffer fills the narrative with interesting anecdotes...The sage conversation on a New York-bound bus with a distraught Asian girl is warmly resonant and a befitting conclusion to...[a] book of ruminations, memories and frustrated opinion.""Booklist," 5/15/11"[A] startlingly honest work, which is part memoir and part religious history...Intriguing fare." "Church of England Newspaper," 5/13/11"Part memoir, part exploration of evangelical views." PoliticusUSA.com, 5/16/11"A work that alternates from heartwarming to thought provoking to laugh out loud funny...Schaeffer brilliantly guides the reader through an exploration of the Bible's strange, intolerant, and sometimes frightening attitudes about sex, and how these Biblical teachings, through the evangelical grassroots of the Republican Party, have come to dominate the GOP stance...Schaeffer's writing style combines intelligence, warmth, humor, depth and insight..."Sex, Mom, and God" is hands down one of the best non-fiction books of the year." "Kirkus Reviews" (website)," "6/1/11"The memoir, the third and last in Schaeffer's God trilogy, unfolds in lucid anecdotal excursions probing the chinks that later became gaping holes in the fundamentalist walls that penned him in." Internet Review of Books, 6/8/11"A fond and sometimes hilarious look back at [Schaeffer's] mother's child-rearing methods and the effect they had on him...Schaeffer's journey demonstrates that the world could be a better place if we were all able to reassess our beliefs and values--to examine them closely and glean only those worth saving." "Library Journal, "6/15/11"Well worth reading, highly entertaining, and very informative about the recent history of American evangelicalism. It will appeal to readers interested in the world today, memoir, or religion." Huffington Post, 6/13/11"Intelligent and easy to read; it transitions smoothly back and forth between story-telling and point-making prose...In his portrayal of Edith Schaeffer, Frank is able to call out the nuttiness of the religious right and to humanize conservative and Evangelical Christians in the same narrative. It is the deft work of a talented writer practicing his craft...It is a bit of wisdom our entire nation--hell, the whole world--needs to hear." RH Reality Check, 6/16/11"Part memoir, part revelation about Evangelical pathology, and part prescription for theological sanity, the book has much to recommend it." Patheos.com, 6/16/11"Offers an insider's glimpse into how fundamentalism became the dominant voice in the U.S. political area." InfoDad.com, 6/16/11"Frequently entertaining." "The Humanist, "July/August 2011"[Schaeffer's] stories aren't just interesting, they're also well told...[He] serves up an intriguing combination that's part sexual memoir and part expose of religious right extremism. It's a strange combination to be sure, but in the hands of a gifted wordsmith like Schaeffer it works." State of Formation, 6/20/11"Part memoir, part theology, and part political commentary...An ambitious undertaking. But "Sex, Mom, and God" did not disappoint. Alternating between laugh-out-loud episodes and poignant reflections, Schaeffer recounts with candor the influence his mother had on both his beliefs and the beliefs of a generation of Evangelicals...His readers--believers and non-believers alike--will be challenged to reconsider their views about politics, sex, and religion." The Daily Beast, 6/24/11"Intriguing...[Schaeffer's] privileged view of the Christian right's sexual weirdness makes his account particularly interesting, and helps explain why the aggressively pious so frequently destroy themselves with sex scandals.""Milwaukee Shepherd-Express, ""7/7/11""[Schaeffer] has grown into rueful middle age with his sense of sarcasm sharpened..." Sex, Mom and God" dips into the same well as "Crazy for God" and draws irony and venom from its depths."WomanAroundTown.com, 6/16/11"By turns biting, funny, and thought provoking.""Washington"" Post," 7/10/11"[Schaeffer's] memoirs have a way of winning a reader's friendship...Schaeffer is a good memoirist, smart and often laugh-out-loud funny...Frank seems to have been born irreverent, but his memoirs have a serious purpose, and that is to expose the insanity and the corruption of what has become a powerful and frightening force in American politics...Frank has been straightforward and entertaining in his campaign to right the political wrongs he regrets committing in the 1970s and '80s...As someone who has made redemption his work, he has, in fact, shown amazing grace." "Roanoke"" Times, "7/10/11"A thought-provoking analysis of the social and religious struggles that continue to define American consciousness...Schaeffer covers a lot of important territory in his book...He provides an insider's view on the ways America has become fragmented, polarized by various forms of extremism." "In These Times, "August 2011"An unusual mix--part memoir, part exegesis on Bible-based belief systems, and part prescription for a more compassionate, human-centered politics for both religious and theologically skeptical people. Humor, at times of the laugh-out-loud variety, is abundant. And while readers will likely bristle at some of Schaeffer's conclusions, his wit, sass and insights make "Sex, Mom, & God" a valuable and entertaining look at U.S. fundamentalism." "San Francisco Book Review, "7/20/11"This memoir/diatribe on organized religion is so shockingly bold and intimately revealing that it will spin your head around whiplash-quick, and cause you to double check to make sure you read the words correctly...Schaeffer comes to a jarring conclusion for fundamentalists, Roman Catholics, Jews, and Muslims alike, that if we don't set aside our dogma and start making a serious effort at getting along, we will end up destroying ourselves and everything we thought we believed in." "Reference and Research Book News, "August 2011"Provid[es] a new, less prudish view of radical Christianity." "New York"" Times, "8/20/11"To millions of evangelical Christians, the Schaeffer name is royal, and Frank is the reluctant, wayward, traitorous prince.""World," 8/27/11"Schaeffer can be witty and ironic and, like the stopped clock that is accurate twice a day, some of his observations hit their mark." "Bitch," October 2011"Braids the rise of the religious right with Schaeffer's development as an evangelist and antiabortion activist...Recommended for history, religion, or political buffs who enjoy a dash of tender reflection.""Maclean's" magazine, 9/21 issue"Former evangelist Frank Schaeffer may have quit the business and turned his back on what he now calls 'our dreadful, vengeful little God, ' but the man clearly still has a knack for sermon titles. And "Sex, Mom, and God" is nothing if not a righteous, furious, cringe-inducing and surprisingly nuanced sermon delivered in book form against Schaeffer's heavenly demons...Schaeffer's contention that most, if not all, of organized religion's shortcomings stem from hang-ups over sex is nothing new. What's compelling about "Sex "is Schaeffer himself, who bashes away at what he held dear for so long." "Santa Fe"" New Mexican, "11/25/11"[Schaeffer is] unafraid to tell it like it is." Metapsychology Online Reviews, 2/11/12"Amusing and eyebrow-raising anecdotes...The reader is treated to a compelling and affectionate portrayal of [Scgaeffer's] complex and conflicted mother...For a reader unfamiliar with the kind of Christianity Schaeffer describes, the book provides a helpful picture into the good and bad of living as a fundamentalist Evangelical...A first-hand account of one evangelical's unusual childhood and the life of a recovering fundamentalist."Politics & Patriotism (blog), 4/10"An eye-opening expose of American Right-wing socio-political history." The NervousBreakdown.com, 5/20/12"Schaeffer paints a beautiful portrait of his mother...And while he may have a lot to say against the institutions of fundamentalist religion, he offers the reader an equally powerful alternative view of faith and hope." "Springfield"" News-Leader," 8/22/12"Excellent resources for anyone interested in the strange history of the heretical anti-abortion doctrine being taught in American churches today for the purpose of garnering political support."

About the Author

Frank Schaeffer is the author of the New York Times bestseller Keeping Faith and the memoir Crazy for God. His novels, including Portofino, have been translated into nine languages. He has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and NPR's Fresh Air, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and AlterNet. He and his wife, Genie, live in Massachusetts and have three children.

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I just gave this book 4 stars as I didn't particularly enjoy the writing style, but the content I found surprising, although it had been recommended by a friend who did give me a clue or two! Having been influenced in my 20's by the parents of this writer, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and also their friend Billy Graham, I was surprised to learn of his complete turn-around, after following faithfully in his father's footsteps for many years. The connections with the Republican party were also of interest to me, as having always supported (from afar) the Democrat party, I had recently come into contact with an avid Christian Republican in America!

The best bit was how much he enjoyed his Grandchildren, which I identified with, having just acquired 3 of my own!! And the sections on his attitudes to abortion and homosexuality co-incided with my own.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Edwards on 21 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
A bit quirky, but a fascinating insight into a world unfamiliar to many of us. The author has gone from fundamentalist to Greek Orthodox, which must be quite rare.
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Amazon.com: 54 reviews
171 of 198 people found the following review helpful
Anger and Extremes 18 Feb. 2013
By Wyman Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After reading Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God a few years ago, I felt like I needed a shower. I felt this way less because of Frank's relentless skewering of his very flawed parents than because I found the dark pit of Schaeffer's own undiluted bitterness and rage to be somehow...well...tarnishing. Frank Schaeffer, despite his protestations to the contrary, is a very, very angry man. I told him that in an email after I read the last book. He responded by saying, among other things, that he was getting tired of the accusation. No doubt he is, but Sex, Mom, & God is not going to help him break free of the charge (nor are his frankly bizarre, weird, fear-mongering news show rants that can be viewed easily on YouTube).

Now, does Schaeffer have a right to be angry? You bet he does. If his own hyperbolic excesses would stop throwing roadblocks up, I personally would feel even more sympathy for him than I already do. Frank did get a raw deal and he grew up in an unbelievably strange situation.

Frank is the only son of the late Francis and the still-living-but-very-elderly Edith Schaeffer. Francis Schaeffer was an Evangelical superstar in the 70′s and 80′s in particular and, to some extent, still is today. As I mention in the open letter linked above, his writings had and still have a profound impact on my own life, though for various reasons (Frank's work included) I have cooled in my affection for Francis' writings (and some of his later writings I've rejected almost in toto).

Frank indeed grew up in a strange world. Growing up the son of hardline Presbyterian missionaries in a missionary chalet and spiritual-seeker-haven in Switzerland would have to have been a very unique experience (though it must be added that many, many people count their visits and time at L'Abri as seminal moments in their own Christian journeys...and I do wish I had been old enough to visit as well). As Francis and Edith grew more popular, Frank was left alone for long periods of time as his parents went on their speaking tours. He witnessed a double-life in his parents as well that scarred him deeply. Francis had a terrible temper and would hit and throw objects at Edith. Edith, on her part, would defend Francis, oddly tell her young son about his father's demand for sexual relations every night and would speak patronizingly of Francis' shortcomings and weaknesses to her children.

Frank himself became part of the family business, the heir-apparent as it were, producing the well-known film series, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? The latter film and book helped establish the Schaeffer's at the forefront of the pro-life movement and played a pivotal role in calling Evangelicals into the pro-life and, more generally, into the political fray. (I wrote a thesis paper in seminary on Francis Schaeffer's role in the pro-life movement and the role of Whatever Happened to the Human Race? I was surprised and mildly amused to see my paper cited in a footnote in Colin Duriez's biography of Francis Schaeffer some years back.) In this way, Frank (then called Franky) Schaeffer can indeed be credited with playing a part in the rise of the so-called Religious Right. His own star rose in the 80′s as he became a kind of angry prophet for conservative Protestants in North America. Frank wrote bestselling books (he is a prolific writer by any account), hit the speaking circuit and saw his own fame and financial situation grow impressively.

By Frank's account, though, he was a living a lie. He knew that he was profiting from a platform in which he was quickly losing trust. He detested some of the creepier fringes of fundamentalist Protestantism and would soon break all ties to the movement he helped create. He would eventually convert to Greek Orthodoxy (and write his fascinating but shrill defense of this act, Dancing Alone) and, even later, to political liberalism and to the anger-and-disillusionment-driven pseudo-Christian agnosticism which he seems to espouse today.

Along the way, Frank has created a niche market of literary parent lambasting. He has vented his spleen against his parents, his upbringing and fundamentalism in general in the fictional Calvin Becker trilogy Portofino (an hysterical novel, by the way!), Zermatt, and Saving Grandma, and now in a non-fiction trilogy consisting of Crazy for God, Patience with God, and Sex, Mom, & God. I suspect I am not the only Evangelical who has been impacted by Francis Schaeffer's life and writing who yet feels a strange mixture of fascination, disgust, sympathy, understanding, anger, and eye-rolling at these works.

There is a long venerable tradition of sons writing against their fathers, but Frank's work seems to go beyond even this. He has what appears to be an almost unfettered pathological needto...tell...everybody...everything. I can only imagine that getting paid to...tell...everybody...everythingdoesn't hurt his penchant for self-disclosure. And, of course, people like myself are to blame for buying and reading the stuff. That being said - dare I say it? - I really do think I've now heard enough.

In Sex, Mom, & God, Frank Schaeffer has given us a full-scale polemic against his past and an often laughable defense of his current positions. My goodness, I don't know that I have ever read such a staggering collection of ad hominems, non sequitors, category errors, irrationality, truly bad hermeneutics, even worse exegesis, stupefyingly bad theology, guilt-by-association, character assasination and flat-bad thinking in my life.

Yes, yes, Frank does score many points here and there and they are not unimportant. Yes, large swathes of fundamentalist Christians have foisted a kind of weird, guilt-ridden approach to sex on their children marked by a constant harping on the dangers of sexual sin, the creation of the impression that sex itself isinherently sinful, a disproportionate fixation on sexual sin as opposed to more accepted sins, and the lack of a healthy, biblically-informed and balanced understanding of sex. And, yes, as Frank acknowledges, the lack of a healthy and honest approach to sexuality has scarred many young conservative Christians who were unable to be open about that through which they were going or that with which they are dealing. Only a person with his or her head in the sand would deny that there is a strange subterranean reality of sexual dysfunction in many Christians of certain ilks because of the heaping portions of shame they had shoveled upon them in this area of their lives growing up. It is no wonder that young boys who can't speak openly of their struggles internalize that whole area of their lives and end up, in many cases, going into some weird corners of the modern, sexual, anarchic landscape.

I know few Christians who would deny the problem here, but this is not the problem as Frank sees it. Frank sees the Bible itself as the problem and the sexual ethic of scripture as the problem. Of course, when you see the sexual ethic of scripture as Frank defines it, it is indeed terrible. But he defines it thus only by some amazing hermeneutical gymnastics that frankly left me aghast.

I resoundly reject the notion that the Bible and the God of the Bible (as Schaeffer puts it) has a weird notion of sex. Indeed, the sexual problems of some fundamentalist Christians are not the result of the application of the biblical principles but rather of the perversion of them. The Bible's sexual ethic of monogamy, marriage between a man and a woman and its strictures against fornication and adultery are healthy, God-given, and good common sense. When I survey the modern tragedy of sexual ethics today, it seems to me that only a hack with an agenda and a penchant for the open fields of sexual anarchy would hate the good, healthy and protecting biblical boundaries that keep us from degenerating into mere animals.

Is there some sexual weirdness in the fundamentalist sub-culture? To be sure. But the greatest things are always open to the greatest perversions, and the perversion of a good thing does not make the good thing less good, it only makes the perversion of it that much more wicked. If Frank Schaeffer wants to see sexual weirdness, sexual wounding and sexual confusion, let him spend another few years in the anything-goes fields of body-anarchy and sheer license that he now calls home (not that he himself practices these things, I hasten to add, but these are the hallmarks of the modernity he has now embraced and is now seeking to resuscitate).

Frank's handling of the Bible in this book is breathtakingly and almost unbelievably bad. He seems to posses virtually no understanding of the relationships of the Old and New Testaments, of the reality of Jesus as the hermeneutical key to scripture, of the difference between descriptive passages and prescriptive passages (good grief he does not get this at all!) and of the idea of progressive revelation. He repeatedly, ad nauseum, refers to the Bible as a collection of "Bronze Age myths." He depicts the God of the Bible as a misogynistic, perverse, woman-hating, sex-obsessed, murderous tyrant. In this regard, Schaeffer makes Richard Dawkins (a man whose writings he professes not to respect) sound like Mister Rogers.

I don't know what it is, but Frank Schaeffer never a met a shrill denunciation he couldn't amp up, a hyperbole he couldn't stretch even further, or a non sequitor (a particular flaw of his that he traffics in on almost every page) he couldn't embrace and trumpet. He is a master craftsman of barely comprehensible blasts of unhinged vitriole and palsied jeremiads.

Again, among the drivel there are moments that almost (but not quite) make the whole painful ordeal of reading him worthwhile. His autobiographical notes are, as you might imagine, very interesting. His account of his meetings with Rousas Rushdoony (a truly strange, fringe-dwelling idealogue) and the Dominionists (Reconstructionists) is fascinating (though his guilt-by-association conclusions for lots of us who wouldn't want to be within 100 miles of those guys are not). His brief comments on Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and the founding of First Things, on Robert George and on Crossway Press were interesting as far as they went (though he scored no real points on any of these). His comments on Billy Graham and some of his own conversations with the Graham children painfully illustrate that there is indeed a particular burden placed on the shoulders of the children of Evangelical superstars.

But over all this grist for the mill for Evangelical-dirty-laundry-voyeurs is Frank's own, strange, idiosyncratic current position on life and God and sex. In many ways, Frank simply sounds like a commercial for the more stridently-liberal wing of the Democratic party (albeit a commercial featuring some wild-eyed, crazy cousin of even that wing - again, YouTube "Frank Schaeffer" and you'll get what I'm saying). All the standard soundbites are there: abortion on demand (though he thankfully wishes to see some limits on this - notably in late-term abortions), the propping up of the gay agenda, anti-Republicanism, the charge of racism against those who don't like Obama, the alarmist rhetoric about a coming theocracy, etc. There is a kind of trite and tired wearisomness to these aspects of the book and of Frank's schtick in general. In this regard, Frank Schaeffer kind of sounds like a radical-leftist-on-speed who is seeking to cram as many left-leaning platitudes into his remaining career as he possible can. It's almost as if he wants to match the Scylla of his former fundamentalist extremism with the Carybdis of his new-found fundamentalist leftist extremism. As I say, all of this is yawn-inducing and worthy of skipping. Moreso, it illustrates a point that seems glaringly obvious when one considers the totality of Frank's work: Frank is simply an extreme person who goes all in on his tangent of the moment (fundamentalism - abortion politics - Greek Orthodoxy - daddy bashing - liberal theology and politics) only to ricochet after it all plays out (for, after all, that kind of extremism is inherently very hard to maintain) onto his next soap box. One does wait with baited breath for Frank's next cause and spate of angst-driven monographs.

His theology, however, is a little more nuanced if nontheless still mired in an epistemological and theological trainwreck. In short, Frank seems to still think there is a God. He still even calls himself a Christian. He seems to like Jesus, even though he doubts that a lot of what was attributed to Jesus was actually said by Jesus...especially, one notes, when the words of Jesus conflict with the programme of modern, leftist, "progressive" (an ironic monikor) politics. He still attends the Greek Orthodox Church.

That being said, he is more of a watered-down theist lapsing here and there into agnosticism and, on his really, really angry days, dipping his toe into atheism. The God Frank Schaeffer believes in is not the ugly God he claims to find in the Bible. No, the God Frank believes in is infused with the best virtues of modernity: He (or She or It, according to Frank) is a God who likes love and puts no boundaries anywhere accept, one assumes, on really bad things like when a pedophile claims to love children, or when a Republican claims to be against gay marriage, or when an Evangelical professes to believe in inerrancy, etc. But other than that, the God-of-Frank wants people to love each other in whatever combinations they feel inclined to muster without fear and without guilt. Sex is a REALLY big deal to Frank and he now knows that God has no hangups with sex. Frank's God loves everybody and doesn't dislike much except for religious people and all of their phoney, hooey books that claim to speak for God. Frank's God is kind, gentle, nice, sweet, politically-liberal, socially progressive, thinks Obama is doing a great job, hates Republicans and wants people to feel an unquestioned mastery over their own bodies and what they choose to do with them. Franks God, in other words, thinks just like Frank.

How Frank knows these things about God presumably ought not be asked by skeptics. For Heaven's sake (if there is a Heaven, right?), don't point out to Frank that he is living parasitically off of the Christian worldview he professes to hate so much and that his idiosyncratic renderings of that worldview could only come about because he was immersed in it in the first place. Don't point out to Frank that the very stuff with which he has crafted his new ideology was taken on the sly from the book and the church and the faith he is now scoffing at and redefining.

Furthermore, don't ask Frank how it is that he could be so very uncertain of so many things...but simultaneously so very certain that God is the God who just happens to think as Frank now thinks. It is an almost tired truism nowadays that the tolerant are profoundly intolerant of those who don't buy their version of tolerance and that the agnostics can sound eerily fundamentalistic about what they profess actually to know about the God they profess is unknowable. You might also want to avoid reminding Frank of Voltaire's idea that God created man in his own image and man has returned the favor, and that the liberal elites of a society or as prone to this malady as religious fundamentalists. What is more, don't ask Frank if it's not just possible that his view of progress might actually be a staggering regress or if the age of abortion-on-demand, sexual anarchy without boundaries, political leftist ideology and fashionable agnosticism might not in time come to be judged as even more vapid and silly and degenerate than the "Bronze Age myths" he professes to detest.

There are other things you likely should not ask Frank. You probably shouldn't ask him about the fact that he has now published six volumes in which he profits off of the weaknesses of his parents. At what point does one feel a bit, well, hypocritical about dragging out ole mom and dad for another good thrashing and another good book advance? Or you probably shouldn't ask Frank - because he likely would not answer - why it is that throughout the book he quotes surveys and statistics showing the support of the American people for this or that position with which he agrees, but strangely never discusses the fact that gay marriage referendums are resoundly struck down by the majority of Americans in given locales whenever they come up. After all, is it honest and good thinking to cherry-pick the stats that bolster your own assumptions while ignoring those that don't? And due to the personal nature of it, you likely shouldn't ask Frank if he really thinks his appeal to his mother's thumb's up to him writing this book holds a lot of weight and really gives him a pass from the charge of tackiness and creepiness when he goes on to say that his mother is so elderly that she is frequently confused and forgets the names of her grandchildren?

In truth, it's probably best not to ask Frank too much of anything. The shock-haired, crazy-eyed Jeremiah on the corner wearing the sandwich sign and spitting into the bull-horn isn't really one for questions, is he? His whole point is to be heard and to rage against the blindness of the passers-by. The street-corner prophet doesn't do nuance, doesn't do careful hermeneutics, doesn't represent his opponent with care and accuracy. No, he screams...loudly...and then he moves on.

Frank Schaeffer is a tragedy, not the least because of what the fundamentalist Christian ghetto did to a mind that is clearly sharp and perceptive, if painfully misled and marred. Most of all, his tragedy is found in his equation of the whole with the part, of his (once again) tossing of the baby out with the bathwater.

Frank, it's possible to think Rushdoony was really dangerous but that the gospel is true and has been preserved in the churches for two-millennia. It's possible to agree that some Christians have indeed botched the whole subject of sex while still affirming that fornication and adultery are sins and that the sexual strictures of scripture were put there to protect us and not to hurt us. It's possible, Frank, to hate the idea of an imposed theocracy but to see the blatant stripping of the public square (to use the terminology of Neuhaus) as a tragic and unnecessary crime. Regardless of what you say, Frank, yes it is possible to see homosexuality as a sin and to call gay people to repentance but not hate gay people and not wish to see gay people hung on the gallows. Frank, intelligent people can see God's Word as trustworthy and true, the church as flawed but beautiful and the gospel as essential and life-giving, and many do.

Pray for Frank Schaeffer.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Was eager to read, then incredibly frustrated 22 May 2012
By Beauty Mexulla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having seen the other reviews, I feel the need to provide a disclaimer before I give mine. It's important to know that at the time of writing I am in my twenties (I didn't grow up hearing about the Schaeffers) and I identify as a progressive evangelical christian.

I found this book incredibly frustrating to read and gave up halfway through. It was interesting to learn about the backstage wrangling of the religious right, but I didn't pick up this book for the politics as much as I was hoping for a reflection on one 'christian star's' sexual development, familial relationships and spiritual development. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the phrase "crazy politics" in the title. I feel that he tried to take on too much and ended up spending more time on the "politics" than the sex, or mom, or God, or learning to love women parts. It was disappointing.

It didn't help that I found Schaeffer's tone a tad pompous. The constant name-dropping rankled: "me and so-and-so wrote this book and it sold one million copies." "Dad and I were personally invited by President Ronald Reagan to the white house." "My writings influenced all those abortion clinic bombers.." etc etc. I paraphrase of course, but my point is it almost seemed like he was boasting about all the havoc he wreaked as a fundamentalist christian. That just didn't work for me. Then I was astounded to read the part where he pokes fun of people who wait to have children after the age of 35. Schaeffer may not realize this, but he is immensely fortunate his early marriage worked out and that fortune is completely unearned on his part. A little less boasting would have been nice.

I just didn't enjoy this book and found the constant name-dropping and daddy-dearest references by a grown man surprising.
65 of 78 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for Evangelicals 14 Jun. 2011
By Mary W. Perry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I wish more Evangelicals were open to reading Frank Schaeffer's latest books, because they provide us with such a clear understanding of recent church history, and what happened to the influence we assumed we would have in the present time.

I wonder if the titles throw people off, but I'd encourage you to get beyond them, buy the books and read them! Do NOT FEAR Frank Schaeffer, you will gain so much!

Frank's books are emotional, so much so, that to read this one seems a bit like riding a motorcycle through a tropical storm: I sense breathtaking fury and unresolved anger over his participation in some "pet Evangelical projects" of the past. There is a sense of betrayal that many of us share; we thought we were so RIGHT, and remain in various stages of depression and despair as we discover how foolish we looked to the outside world, and to God.

The book is edgy, if anything coming close to disclosing too much about his sexual past, but Frank can never be accused of keeping his controversial thoughts to himself! I think he comes down pretty harshly on sex in the Bible, stressing the Old Testament laws, but it's his book, and his opinion.

Isolating a sentence here and there, you might wonder if he believes in God at all, but then in the next sentence you have no doubt; but Frank's books are not intended to reassure us of his relationship to God.

My favorite parts, and women of all ages will find these their favorites too, are the glimpses into Frank's mother, Edith's personal life. I adored the woman I found in the pages of "Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway".
70 of 88 people found the following review helpful
The Blessing in the Shadow 25 May 2011
By Karen Ashley Greenstone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our thoughts are tethered to our feelings: this is a key message of Frank Schaeffer's SEX, MOM, & GOD.

Schaeffer describes his unusually explicit and early sex education, his unusually creative and energetic mother, and his conflicted relationship with the God of the (very literally interpreted) Bible. He shows how all of this generated feelings that led to the extreme Christian fundamentalist stance of his young adulthood during which he worked diligently (and angrily) to convert the United States to a Bible-believing nation, as well as to his later embrace of a God of Mystery, his growing comfort with not knowing the exact nature of Ultimate Reality, and his own life of creativity.

As always, Frank Schaeffer's gifts both as a storyteller and as an essayist provide a wonderful read. Schaeffer's stories are charming, outrageous, and often hilarious. Two of them particularly come to mind: having sex with an ice sculpture, and bathing under the supervision of a kind-hearted babysitter who was obsessed with the Queen of England.

The essay-type parts of Schaeffer's book are fascinating. As a former extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalist, Schaeffer understands that mindset from the inside. From his own experience, Schaeffer knows that the intellectual gloss of fundamentalist thought is undergirded by strong emotions and psychological needs. Schaeffer excels at making these thought/feeling connections clear and vivid. Having read SEX, MOM, & GOD, I now have a far better understanding of why it is so very difficult for fundamentalists to recognize the paradoxes of life and the possibility that there may be other equally valid ways to truth besides their own, of why the second generation of Christian fundamentalist preachers like Franklin Graham tend to become more extreme and strident than their fathers, and of why the pro-life and pro-choice factions have become so terribly polarized on the issue of abortion.

But here is the best thing about SEX, MOM, & GOD: Schaeffer shows the blessing in the shadow. This is a gentler book than Schaeffer's CRAZY FOR GOD, where Schaeffer, an inveterate truth-teller, reveals the shadow side of his Christian fundamentalist upbringing. In CRAZY FOR GOD, we learn that Schaeffer's highly revered parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, had some serious weaknesses that were kept hidden so as not to tarnish their Christian ministry. CRAZY FOR GOD shows the shadow side of Francis and Edith Schaeffer and their ministry.

Now in SEX, MOM, & GOD, we see much more of the blessing in the shadow. Schaeffer presents us with some of the stories about Edith Schaeffer from CRAZY FOR GOD, but in a very different light. Edith Schaeffer's courage, love, and creativity now shine, even in the midst of what seem to be her failings. A case in point is Edith Schaeffer's almost love affair with a sensitive young artist: it is fascinating to compare the way Schaeffer tells this story in CRAZY FOR GOD with the way he tells it in SEX, MOM, & GOD. In the former instance, we see Edith Schaeffer's failing; in the latter, her courage and love for her family.

Schaeffer's love for his mother shines through in SEX, MOM, & GOD. Schaeffer attributes his own creative life to what he learned from his mother. "I simply chose to follow the `other' Edith Schaeffer, the one whose heart was elsewhere than in the lifeless theories she paid lip-service to," Schaeffer says on page 91. Thank God you did, Frank Schaeffer! Thank God!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Schaeffer keeps on keeping on 10 Dec. 2013
By Jennifer Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
The good: FS is a good writer and this book was not difficult to get through. His stories about growing up in the Schaeffer household and how the reality of his parents was different from the appearance they put forth as Evangelical Stars makes for good gossip. I won't go into the content of the book as it has been done by many other reviews. If you are no longer a Christian of any stripe and you're pretty upset with the religion and think the leaders are full of it, then you'll probably enjoy this book because it will confirm everything you've ever thought about those weaselly people.

The bad: It's not hard to find books and blogs where ex-(insert name of religion here) people rant and rage over the BS they believe they were fed as children. It's not that uncommon -- my husband is a former Catholic whose feelings for the Catholic Church are on a level that Derry Protestants can only imagine. I know several ex-Mormons, ex-Seventh Day Adventists, and some ex-Evangelicals who think religion in general and their church in particular is the Worst of the Worst and Should be Abolished because of the Damage it is causing the World, so FS's going to the other side is not rare. However, most of us do not write book after book dredging up stuff. I agree with most of FS's politics (full disclosure: I am a total Lefty), but I didn't have to get all pissed off and bitter to get here. The anger in this book is sad, because the guy is not getting any younger, and he does not seem to understand that his parents would have been just as flawed and perhaps weird and hypocritical if they were not fundamentalist Christians, because people in general are flawed and weird and hypocritical. For example, people talk crap about Christian men being so oppressive, but in my experience with atheist and religious couples as friends, I don't see that the secular guys are any better. Some of them are worse! And don't get me started on how pervy atheist guys can be at conferences and Meetups. The gays I know are not kinder or gentler than the fundies I know -- they have their hates as well. FS seems to think that people on the Right are ignorant and strident and mean while the people on the Left are smart and nuanced and open-minded and compassionate. He needs to spend some more time with the Left -- we can be petty and cruel too! One of the worst groups I ever belonged to was a vegetarian potluck group in Orange County. The gossip, politics, and ideological battles (vegetarian vs vegan vs raw vegan, etc) were too much and I dropped out. I can eat veg at home in peace!

The ugly: FS is obsessed with sex and he spends a lot of time describing in detail what he likes about women's bodies and how he was so horny even before puberty. He made an ice sculpture when he was nine and tried to screw it!! when I read Crazy for God I had the same feeling about FS that I do here -- he is creeeeeepy about the ladies. Maybe it's me projecting to when I had bosses or co-workers who leered and tried to grope me, but I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way. He tells of working with a Jewish young woman and how loves to sit beside her, stare at her legs (and where those legs went!) and her neck and smell her hair -- and did I mention he was a husband and grandfather who was more than 20 yrs her senior? Guh-ross! This aspect of the book was so off putting I will never read another book by this guy. I get it, you like poonanny. Get over it! His ranting about the teachings on sex he grew up with ring pretty hollow when you find yourself wading through the slime of this man's libido. He's like a sugar addict screaming that people won't let him eat all the cookies he wants and it's those people who are wrong. It got gross.
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