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

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

3.8 27
by Frank Schaeffer

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By the time he was nineteen, Frank Schaeffer’s parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, had achieved global fame as bestselling evangelical authors and speakers, and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. He would go on to speak before thousands in arenas around America, publish his own evangelical bestseller, and work with such figures as Pat

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By the time he was nineteen, Frank Schaeffer’s parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, had achieved global fame as bestselling evangelical authors and speakers, and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. He would go on to speak before thousands in arenas around America, publish his own evangelical bestseller, and work with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson. But all the while Schaeffer felt increasingly alienated, precipitating a crisis of faith that would ultimately lead to his departure—even if it meant losing everything.

With honesty, empathy, and humor, Schaeffer delivers “a brave and important book” (Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog)—both a fascinating insider’s look at the American evangelical movement and a deeply affecting personal odyssey of faith.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
American Author’s Association website, December 2008
“A story that needed to be told…A very personal and brutally honest memoir, that opens up and exposes the underbelly of the evangelistic movement…Gives the reader a rare and different look at some of various leaders of the fundamentalist moment...The book may open some eyes and minds about the dangers of politics and religion…A must read book for serious seekers looking for their own authentic path to enlightenment, or at least some inner peace.”, 12/2/08
“A must read for the de-converting…It is brutally honest, eye-opening, at times laugh out loud funny, and heart breaking.”

Princeton Packet, 2/13/09
“Mr. Schaeffer knows what he’s talking about. He was there, and his book lays it all out, chapter and verse.”

TCM Reviews
“[A] moving memoir…For those interested in a different perspective on Francis and Edith Schaeffer, l'Abri, and the fundamentalist right-wing evangelical movement, as well as the touching story of someone deeply involved in it all, this is a must-read.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 4/15/09
“In a witty recollection that takes a different path from the average evangelical story, Frank Schaeffer offers an intimate portrait of a life within and without the spotlight of mass congregations…Schaeffer is more than qualified to offer candid commentary concerning the religious right in these United States…Written with an intricate collection of detail, a smooth ability to turn elements of conflict into startling moments of realization, and a wonderful search for meaning.”

Tallahassee Democrat, 7/25/09
“Part memoir, part biography, and part expose of a fundamentalist moment in U.S. religion and culture. As memoir it is at times funny, at times moving. As biography it provides an interesting, not to say intimate, perspective on Francis and Edith Schaeffer. As expose it provides revealing glimpses into the emergence of the religious right and some of its most visible leaders.”

Evangelical Studies Bulletin, Spring 2008
“[A] breezy new autobiographical book…The inner story of young Frank(y)’s childhood, adolescence, meteoric phase as up-and-coming evangelical political activist, and subsequent career keep the pages turning…[An] entertaining and provocative read.”

Semi-Autonomous Collective blog, 12/27/09
“Aggravating at times, frustrating by moments, but overall terribly touching, Schaeffer isn’t hiding any flaws from the picture he paints of his own family. If there is one book to understand where the religious right comes from, it’s that one.”

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.”

Christianity Today's Books & Culture
Memoir obviously demands introspection, and Schaeffer doesn't hold back.Schaeffer describes a life that was by turns happy, difficult, idyllic, and completely nuts.He's a world-class storyteller.He can make us laugh, make us wince, and make us really think about things, all at the same time.
New Statesman
A brilliant book, a portrait of fundamentalism painted in broad strokes with streaks of nuance, the twinned coming-of-age story of Frank and the Christian right. But this story moves in more than one direction: both coming-of-age narratives are pulled against the current by the tragedy of Francis Schaeffer, a man who let his children, biological and ideological, guide him down a path from which he'd spent his whole life struggling to get off.
—Jeff Sharlet
Sounding a refreshing variation on the I-was-lost-but-now-I'm-found theme, Schaeffer's apology rings true.
Boston Globe
Crazy for God isn't just another James Frey-style memoir of personal dysfunction.It's an alternately hilarious and excruciating look at Schaeffer's life with his Christian missionary parents and after he left their orbit.
Jane Smiley
It offers considerable insight into several issues that have bedeviled American life in the past thirty years, and while it isn't scholarly, when taken in conjunction with his other gives us not only a handle on the mess we are in but also quite a few laughs.
The Nation
Washington Times
A story about the dangers of inauthentic faith.An important book.A cautionary tale about the damaging effects on children whose parents have an excess of spiritual pride.
Library Journal

Schaeffer (Portofino) shares his personal responses and reactions to his mostly unsupervised upbringing in L'Abri, an idealistic, isolated, intellectual Christian community in Switzerland. This community initially hosted collegians, but with the Sixties and all that came with it, it grew to include people of international significance. Young Schaeffer mixed with them all, despite feeling trapped and rebellious. At times, he was haunted by the thought that he should have pursued his early career success in painting. Nevertheless, and despite his lack of education, Schaeffer became an able speaker and successfully produced Christian films and wrote numerous books. In a reaction that did not come as a surprise, he completely broke from all his avenues of evangelical Christian fame to struggle in the secular world, at one point shoplifting so that he could eat. His attempts in secular film (e.g., Baby on Board, with Judge Reinhold) failed, but he has found some success as a best-selling secular author. This is not just a book about rejecting Christian evangelicalism. It has parallels in secular culture and is an honest read about family life and its challenges. Suitable and recommended for large libraries.
—George Westerlund

Kirkus Reviews
Interesting glimpses into the burgeoning religious right folded into a deeply personal memoir. After World War II, Schaeffer's evangelical parents founded a mission in Switzerland called L'Abri, where he grew up. A large portion of the narrative is dedicated to those years and his conflicting memories of them. At times the author describes his father as a moody, even abusive man; at other points he speaks of him with great respect and love. He depicts his mother as a juggernaut who wore her piety on her sleeve and indoctrinated the children, yet his devotion to this "sexy saint" borders on oedipal. Likewise, he alternately paints his youth as an idyllic utopia and a period of boiling frustrations. At all times, however, Schaeffer is brutally honest. Pot-smoking, group masturbation, running away from boarding school, even the tricks he played on a mentally handicapped woman who lived at L'Abri-each unflattering incident is related in vivid detail. During the author's young-adult years, his parents became quite well known, and he was solicited to work with his father on the 1974 evangelical documentary series How Then Should We Live? Schaeffer encountered many figures in the increasingly public and political evangelical movement; he offers particularly eye-opening accounts of his personal encounters with the likes of Pat Robertson, James Dobson et al. He became convinced that he did not fit into the evangelical mold and in fact had simply been living and speaking about matters in which he had been steeped since birth but basically never truly believed. His break from the movement and what followed in his life comprise the final chapters. Candid, sometimes angry and clearly cathartic for theauthor. Agent: Jennifer Lyons/Writers House LLC

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Product Details

Da Capo Press
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Andre Dubus III
"As a lifelong liberal democrat, it's a pleasure for me to see Frank Schaeffer turn his back on the extreme religious right here, but it is a far deeper pleasure to go where this painstakingly honest and courageous memoir really takes us, into a finely nuanced exploration of how easy it is to lose one's way and how difficult it is to find one's true direction home. We are fortunate that Frank Schaeffer's path has taken him from the rigid fundamentalist thinking of his youth to where he is now, working not in stark black and white, but in the blessed gray from which true art arises. Crazy for God is a brave and important book."--(Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog)

Meet the Author

Frank Schaeffer is a bestselling author of fiction and nonfiction, and also a documentary and feature film director. Frank and his wife, Genie, live in Massachusetts and have three children.

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