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Frankie goes to Hollywood (and a few other places...)
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?