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on 9 November 2012
I enjoyed this biography but felt that it was a bit light on detail towards the end. Frank spent a great deal of time telling us about his early life, sometimes with more information than was strictly necessary but didn't explain enough about why he left the church. I felt that he rushed the ending and I would have liked to have known more about the consequences of his leaving the 'religious right'. However, an enjoyable and easy read.
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on 21 September 2015
This was a very easy book to read - I really did enjoy it.. and having visited L Abri, and disliked it.. but couldn't work out why... this book did enlighten me. Its a creepy place with creepy people holding a creepy agenda.... What is more creepy than beating your wife up until she screams and the kids are terrified... and then a few moments later, going along to a bunch of adoring students and telling them about Jesus and his love? This is what Frank Schaeffer's father used to do on a regular basis, and this is CREEPY indeed.
What is more creepy than preaching "no sex before marriage", to the LAbri students, while your son impregnates a teenager, and holding what seems to be a shotgun wedding... dressed up as a "Christian" one? The girl's parents, (liberal Catholics) must have been terrified for her...( Its a very good book.. both is what it says and what it does NOT say, but leaves you to guess. )
And why was the son so messed up that he did the deed, but didn't wear gloves? The poor little sod had been abandoned by his narcissistic parents, (who clearly despised each other), and brought up in two boarding schools.. the first was good, the second was so horrible and violent that it beggars belief. However Frank Schaeffer. . The messed up teen, became a very good author and enlightens us wonderfully about the origins of fundamentalism/evangelicalism/crazy-life-stealing-creepiness... but out of it all.. one hero emerges. His wife. Mrs Schaeffer. How she has ever survived .. I do not know... First this guy gets her pregnant, then they have fights, then he goes into crazy-land of preacherville, then Hollywood, by this time she's got a few more kids.... and all the time.. you've got to factor in the in-laws... mother, father, sisters and their husbands, all of them holding the "We are right because we're protestant evangelicals" banner.... How did Mrs Schaeffer (Jeannie) NOT respond by rushing up and down the Aigle mountain, threatening to bash this sorry lot with a frying pan?
It is a puzzle.
She survives a great deal, and has even given permission to have the public humiliation of her husband writing about drooling over other women in a book,... while all the time the reader is going "are you KIDDING me.. you freak?"
This book made me question marriage. How it can "make" some lives better (HIS) and break some lives into accepting all kinds of abuse. (HERS).
Gotta congratulate Frank Schaeffer that he isn't slapping his wife until she screams in pain one minute and going on about Jesus the next..., just like his dear old Dad.
But on the other hand,... you have to read this and think.. marry into an evangelical family and you are the human sacrifice of choice...

I did enjoy the book, but I must say, ....it shocked me.
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on 5 August 2011
I've met a few folk who went to l'Abri in the Vaudois Alps, founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer. As a result, I was surprised to see the rather different writings of Frank, formerly Franky, Schaeffer (hereinafter "Jr.") in places such as "The Huffington Post". This caused me to buy the book. The subtitle also attracted my attention.

First of all, for fans of the Schaeffers and their work, a health warning is in order. Jr. peppers his book with four-letter words and his personal sexploits, which may put some folk off. Personally, I find his honesty refreshing.

Now the interesting bit; did he REALLY help found the Religious Wrong in America? He thinks so. Indeed, he takes most of the credit for introducing the wedge issue of abortion, which has become such a distorting factor in US politics (he says his father was never so gung-ho about it). Alas (according to Jr.), his (as he saw it) nuanced stand on the issue was taken over by the "under-no-circumstances" pro-lifers (I love that name, never having actually met anyone who is NOT pro-life). Does he deserve this self-administered pat on the back? Who knows? (who cares?)

Anyway, the book is a curious ramble, autobiography and spiritual journey all in one. Along the way, he paints unflattering portraits of the Big Cheese of the Religious Wrong (Robertson, Dobson), and he says that his father was uncomfortable with these political animals disguised as pastors. He realised too late (he says) that he and his father had been used. In the end, he drifted away from the Evangelicals and ended up in the Greek Orthodox church.

Speaking of his father, one of the endearing features of the book is the obvious affection he retains for his parents. They are portrayed not as infallible saints but as fallible people seeking to work out God's will as they saw it, and being prepared to change.

So, a mildly interesting read, but also, one suspects, a bit of an ego trip, tied in with a bit of catharsis.

One unexplained oddity - the photo on the cover is not Dad with Jr, but Dad with one of Jr's sisters. Why?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 May 2013
Written as almost a confessional by the son of Francis Schaeffer, this details how he grew and his subsequent disillusionment with the evangelical scene. To an extent he throws the baby out with the bathwater; but this is a personal voyage, not a manifesto so he's entitled to. It's one of those books that I think a lot of evangelicals - especially in the UK where we don't on the whole have the same excesses as the US should take the time out to read. Bold, blunt and honest it lays bare the traps and the thinking that could get us to that situation. My first thought after reading this was that I wanted to give it to several people I know to read, simply because it says things that we don't often want to say and they deserve debate. On reflection I'll recommend it both here and when I'm talking to people. Perhaps unlike the US target audience, the C of E is a little more aware of the irony.
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on 12 February 2011
If I had to sum up this book in on e word, it is "honesty". The author lives up to his name and gives a frank account of his childhood and adolescent years in what could be seen as a chaotic environment. Through other eyes Frank Schaeffer's childhood could have been seen as idyllic, he lived in a place of serene beauty, had a lot of freedom, he was not pressurized into academic success, and had a wider spiritual family to relate to and learn from while growing up.

At heart this story is an account of how Frank sought and gained his own spiritual identity through overcoming adversity, coming to know his parents' faith, then later encountering in the religious right in the USA, and finding that they had turned evangelical Christianity into something ugly and unattractive to him in his spiritual journey. Frank came through his own experiences to perceive leaders such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson as more focused on their own power and political influence than on a true humble walk with God in gratitude for the many gifts he has given us. His description of his own flaws, his own family life, as well as his parents' lives together gives hope to those of us who face challenges as parents and partners.

It takes great self-confidence to be a rebel, and combined with the honesty in every page of this book, it was for me an enthralling read. My feelings were of God's patience with us, as he gently leads us as we make mistakes and learn for ourselves his true grace and acceptance. We may not have had perfect childhoods or perfect relationships, but God still meets us where we are and seeks the best for his children. Frank has profound talents and found the love of his life in Genie, as well as his niche as a writer, orator and story-teller. He also seems to have found the expression of his own authentic Christian faith, and he has gained the admiration of his readers for producing a brave and important book which I for one found impossible to put down.
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on 6 February 2009
I have just finished reading this book and found it amazing. I could not put it down. To be honest I'd not even heard of it and just noticed it in my local library and thought it looked interesting. It was fascintaing. His story - being brought up by missionary parents, unwittingly creating some of the nightmare of the current Religious Right, finding a way out and his own path - was written brilliantly. It was also incredibly forgiving and non-judgmental and big-hearted. I am a Christian evangelical (though British and not American) and had wondered whether this was going to be full of vitriol and therefore difficult to read. It totally wasn't. I cannot recommend this highly enough to people who want a fairly objective account (despite his involvement) in the rise of the religious right in America...
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on 8 March 2010
I had never heard of Frank Schaeffer before I heard a podcast interview he gave for the Point of Inquiry show. In it he talked about his part in the rise of the American religious right and how he believed that the Republican party had been completely overwhelmed by religious fundamentalists. I bought the book expecting to hear more about this. The book, however covers more about his upbringing, little anecdotes about his teenage years, his parents various philosophies etc. Not being an American or a Christian, I suppose some of the context was lost on me. I gave the book four stars because, although it was not really what I had expected, it was written in a very honest and engaging style, and gives a different perspective on the religious 'culture wars' that seem to be playing out in the English speaking world today.
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on 24 May 2015
A fabulous must read book for anyone who has felt both the positive and negative impacts of growing up exposed to the fundamentalist religious beliefs of one's parents. As such it's a book for our times - the assault upon dogma is refreshing, the honesty at times uncomfortable. Above all the reader is treated to a narrative that feels authentic to those who grew up in a similar culture whilst being a sober reminder to those who often in all sincerity believe that religiously inspired political movements lead to a healthier society. You probably won't agree with all that's written and if your experience was not the same as the author's then you may well find some of his experiences bewildering at best. However the book will certainly make you think and I'd be surprised if you don't learn something!
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on 1 March 2008
Schaeffer's biography is painfully honest, both about his personal life and his involvement with America's religious right movement in the 70s and 80s. Most of the book concerns his youth, his generous but driven parents, and his own journey as an artist. The political right-wing movement forms a relatively minor portion of his life. Through it all, Schaeffer faces his own failings and delusions unflinchingly -- sometimes it is hilarious. And he opens up to real gratitude for all the people who showed him compassion.

At one point Schaeffer says "Honesty is the only thing that is satisfying about writing". And he proceeds with such disarming honesty as to give a clear window, not only on a soul, but on an era of American history.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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on 6 September 2008
I heard Frank Scheaffer speak at the Greenbelt Festival and found him open, honest and witty. I bought the book and have read it in 2 days. I really could not put it down. His honesty about himself, his mistakes, and his life as the child of American Evangelical leaders makes this a book well worth reading. Anyone who wants to understand the American political and religious right should read this warm, compassionate and gripping book. Even as the story of an extraordanary and eccentric upbringing, it is a must read.
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