more summer reading

I’m a raving fan of Frank Schaeffer’s novels. Don’t get me started.
I think his nonfiction is outstanding as well, as this review of his most recent book makes clear:
I’ve heard some folks dismiss Frank and his work with the word “angry.” Yes, there’s no shortage of anger in Sex, Mom, and God. The word “scathing” fits in places. There’s a lot of direct talk about sex that will bother some people, and the language is unsanitized. But when I think of what Frank has seen over the last thirty-plus years, I’m more impressed by how restrained he is than how angry and direct he is. [Besides, isn’t there … a time for anger (ironic reference intended …)?]
I’m one of the many of my generation who read everything written by Frank’s parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer. Although I never drank the religious-right kool-aid that was scarily present in some of the later works (Francis Schaeffer’s “A Christian Manifesto” gave me the creeps), I’m eternally grateful to them and L’Abri. As I mentioned the other day, their work represented a big step up from the more restrictive brand of fundamentalism I was raised in. In their presence, it was OK to read philosophy and enjoy art and think about life’s big questions … all in the context of a love for God, the Bible, and theology. That was a huge gift.
(Sadly, it appears that many of my generation haven’t continued reading philosophy, enjoying art, or thinking about life’s big questions much since they read their last Francis Schaeffer book in the 1970’s or 80’s … which helps explain a lot about the role of religion in American politics today. It appears that many of our religious-political leaders reached their lifetime limit for serious thought before they reached thirty or forty, and never thought beyond where Dr. Schaeffer’s books took them. In this, they follow Schaeffer’s words and violate his own example.)
All this helps explain why I appreciate Frank Schaeffer’s work so much. He didn’t stop thinking and growing where his parents left off – and one has the feeling that they wouldn’t have wanted him to stop there anyway. He hasn’t been afraid to admit he was wrong and he has been transparent about his anger right along with his love. In the process, he reveals a picture of his parents – for all their human flaws – that suggests they weren’t as rigid and stuck as many of their followers have been. Many readers will agree with me: who Frank has become – as a man, as a Christian, and as a writer – enhances rather than detracts from the reputation of his parents.
Anyway, it’s not easy to describe powerful, complex people (not to mention one’s own parents) without demonizing or beatifying them … and Frank manages to thread that needle with literary skill and spiritual grace.
There’s a tender scene at near the end of Sex, Mom, and God (Chapter 8) where Frank visits his mom and tells her about the book he’s writing. I won’t tell you about it because you really should read it for yourself.