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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
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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

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  1,505 ratings  ·  268 reviews
Frank Schaeffer grew up in Switzerland's L'Abri, an idealistic community founded by his parents, the American evangelicals Francis and Edith Schaeffer. By the time he was 19, his parents had achieved global fame as best-selling authors and speakers, l'Abri had become a mecca for spiritual seekers worldwide — from Barbara Bush to Timothy Leary — and Frank had joined his fat ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Da Capo Press (first published September 28th 2007)
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Jeff Sharlet
Reviewed this for the British New Statesman:

When, in 1997, Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, decided to pay tribute to the late Francis Schaeffer, the theologian and popular writer must have seemed like an odd choice to those not familiar with the twists and turns of the evangelical world. Most of Schaeffer's work and life was at sharp odds with American-style evangelicalism.

Raised in Pennsylvania, Schaeffer lived much of his life as an expatriate in a Swiss c
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Matt
As I made my way though the first two hundred pages of this book, I found the story of Frank's childhood interesting and revealing. But when he began to talk about his involvement in the founding of the religious right, all he and his father did you contribute to something they were truly hesitant about, and his subsequent rejection of all that he had done, I was hooked.

Frank is brutally honest, and sometimes very brutal indeed, but you do get the sense that he is giving everyone a fair shake. T
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Jim Coughenour
Mar 15, 2012 Jim Coughenour rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone below the line of despair
Shelves: memoir
I had hopes for Frank Schaeffer's memoir for a couple reasons: Like him, I grew up in a "crazy" conservative, evangelical milieu (although his was far more colorful). Second, it was his father's early books which liberated me from that milieu, even though (as his son documents) Francis Schaeffer was sucked back into the worst aspects of the religious right. Frank's father was a genuine paradox – a man in love with art and ideas, the passion of humanism, yet who for complicated personal reasons c ...more
Michelle
I haltingly recommend this book, and so far only to two people (adults) on my goodreads list! It's somewhat shocking due to brutal honesty, but I was reading it to gain perspective, and that I did. The insights I consider invaluable, and only serve to bolster a growing conviction that there are no perfect people, families, marriages, relationships, or churches. Besides that, Frank Schaeffer aptly uncovers the unlikely origin of so much of what we take for granted today as the Christian's evangel ...more
Mary
Dec 12, 2008 Mary rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I heard Frank Schaeffer interviewed by Terry Gross and went right out and got this book at the library. I was intrigued to find out how someone who had been a right-wing Christian could throw it all out. I was also intrigued because he grew up in a Christian community in Switzerland called L'Abri, which one of my brothers visited around 1980.
Schaeffer is a very good writer, and he makes his memories of growing up easy to "see" and "feel." He's entertaining. I get the feeling that he's both full
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Becca
Feeling guilty about enjoying this...
Allison
Maybe you can judge a book by its cover; or at least its title. Yes, Frank Schaeffer is long winded and doesn’t know when to stop writing.

As a former evangelical I was very interested in this book since I also left the movement and had to deal with family members who still do not agree with my decision. I thought Schaeffer, being a pastor’s son, might have stories even crazier than my own. My need for drama was not satisfied. I still feel that I have even bigger “fish” stories than the ones Sch
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Mark
Jun 06, 2008 Mark rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
Well-written but mean-spirited memoir by the son of Francis Schaeffer... he takes a number of potshots at evangelical & fundamentalist figures without really substantiating his claims - or writing them off based on one incident.

Oddly enough, it's not his "loss" of faith that bothers me about the book - those parts seem to be honestly & forthrightly told. It's the "I love my parents but let's see if I can find more ways to besmirch their memories & ministry" attitude - and the gleefu
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Bart Breen
Evangelical Sainthood Challenged

Make no mistake about it, Evangelicalism very much has a list of patron saints who are appealed to as authoritative and in many cases such an appeal to authority is considered to settle most any matter that can be brought up. Two in particular who meet this criteria are C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, both of whom, ironically, would likely not have been particularly welcome personally in many actual evangelical fellowships given some of their personal habits and
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Felicia J.
Frank Schaffer’s sometimes fascinating, but ultimately frustrating, memoir never delivers on the promise of its subtitle, “How I .. helped found the religious right, and lived to take all (or almost all) of it back.”

In fact, Crazy for God suffers from an almost complete lack of context. The listener doesn’t learn much about how the religious right formed or how it influenced Republican politics, or anything about the movement’s champions beyond Schaffer’s terse judgments of them. (James Dobson i
...more
Carol Merritt
It's a really interesting book, an honest insider reflecting on a significant religious/political movement.

It's awfully funny at times, a bit of an evangelical kiss-and-tell, and I marveled how Schaeffer could remember what each woman was wearing 30+ years ago.

But, there are some poignant struggles, too. I was touched by his admiration for his dad, and I felt that his love for his mom came through, along with the (understandable) irritation.

I appreciate that Frank Schaeffer told his story. It'
...more
Cody
I enjoyed reading about Frank Schaeffer's journey as he examines both his faith and upbringing in a very right wing evangelical family. I enjoyed his comments and openness about his family and personal struggles. He can come across at times very bitter, but this is to be expected and is part of his struggle. I was most interested as to the effects all of this had on his own family and the steps he was willing to take to build a relationship with his children.
David L.
The Schaeffers loomed large back when I was growing up a fundamentalist, home-schooled, son-of-a-preacher Baptist. Frank Schaeffer's father Francis was a huge influence on my parents and on most of the people around us in church and homeschooling circles. When I was eighteen, I read Francis Schaeffer's theological trilogy over three consecutive days on a Greyhound bus.

Schaeffer the younger's memoir helps to explain why his father's theology both dovetailed with Right-wing Christianity and offere
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Taylor Storey
I beg of you not to pre-judge frank Schaeffer from whatever news sources you have heard from regarding his exodus from evangelicalism. This is an incredibly honest book that tells his story.

His dad Francis Schaeffer was a hippie, intellectual, Christian guy who ended up having a lot of influence towards the end of his life. His son, frank, created and shared a big part of that influence. He appeared alongside all the big evangelical names of the 80s and 90s. But he sensed and didn't like what t
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Kim
Frank Schaeffer provides a glimpse into the life of a family that is greatly loved and revered in Christian circles, especially Reformed circles. He tells his story honestly from his own perspective. While he does write about positive aspects of his family life and characteristics of his parents that he valued, his overall tone is critical and full of regret. He makes the point that "superstar" Christian families are not perfect, and he seems to be seeking to expose the imperfections, whether to ...more
David
I was not sure what to expect from this book when I picked it up at a used bookstore. I have appreciated the 2-3 books by Francis Schaeffer that I read and I also like his son's blog. Prior to reading this I knew that many thought Frank went too far in denigrating the memories of his parents.

Overall, I liked it. Given, the book was a bit wordy and could have been edited down to be more concise. Other than that though, it was an enjoyable read. Frank clearly, to me at least, admired his father.
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Bobby Sullivan
Frank Schaeffer has grown. When he was young and immature, he knew everything. After growing up and experiencing life and love, he acknowledges that he doesn't know everything, and he's cool with that. A remarkable journey story by a remarkable man, thinker, and artist.
Holly
Schaeffer's storytelling is delightful: colorful, funny, ribald, honest, irreverent. His childhood and adolescence in the L'Abri community is the best part of this book. Read it for the wonderful first half and to learn of the fascinating differences between European Evangelicals and the American movement. My enthusiasm waned when Schaeffer began describing the anti-abortion/"pro-life" cause and the odious politics of the American evangelical movement - depictions of its moronic politics and des ...more
Karen
Aug 05, 2008 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those not easily offended who enjoy reading about others' journeys
Recommended to Karen by: Brandon H.
The author Frank is the youngest child and only son of Francis Schaeffer, Fundamental Presbyterian minister, then missionary to Switzerland, Christian theologian and writer, and eventually founder of the religious right. As an adult, Frank joined his father in founding the religious right in America, but he soon departed from the evangelical circle and joined the Greek Orthodox Church. The book is a memoir, personal and seemingly sincere and honest. He seems to be very fair in the way he describ ...more
Valerie
I loved this book. Many reviewers say it's vitriolic spewing. I don't agree. I think he presented a fair description of his family. He told the good, bad, and ugly. Obviously his love for them goes deep and I really appreciated that. I loved his ending comments about needing to cleanse and rid himself of some of his guilt and anguish related to his part in the beginnings of the religious right. I can identify. Not of the "religious right" stuff, but life issues in general. It's healing to get it ...more
Denise
This book has is filled with paradoxes, just like Frank himself. At times cynical, sarcastic, even crude, it is also honest, sincere, touching, and sentimental. Too many adjectives, I know. I was eager to hear his take on the whole evangelical movement. As one who still holds to her evangelical, fundamental faith, I half expected to hate most of this. But I didn't. I had a passing awareness of L'Abri, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, and Frank (whom I knew as Franky). The first part of the book cent ...more
Karen
May 05, 2010 Karen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Children of those who's parents were into Schaeffer's theology
I went to L'Abri after high school and left my faith there, but I fucking love that place. I have wonderful memories of shaving my head, reading Swiss chocolate and eating philosophy in the sun on a blanket, walking in a thunderstorm in the alps - seeing a tiny phosphorescent worm, Christina holding court down at the pub - knitting something chunky and purple, the talent show (one of the students gave us all professional make-up jobs so we all looked like a million bucks) – us all expressing our ...more
Julia
This is a memoir written by the son of the late Francis Schaeffer, the famous Christian writer and thinker of the 60s and 70s. It's a compelling personal story, and I have a hard time picking the section that was most interesting and absorbing. Frank Schaeffer's childhood growing up in Switzerland with his cultured, brilliant, kind-of-crazy parents was so interesting, as were the stories of the later influx of hippies and thinkers into L'Abri, the Schaeffers' educational center. Schaeffer's li ...more
Jen
If there was a goodreads award for "most misleading title" I'd nominate this book, which was not at all what I expected it to be. Which is a good thing.

I loved the first half of the book about Frank's eccentric upbringing in Switzerland and strange family. Good, good stuff and you don't have to be interested in evangelicism or know a thing about Frances Shaeffer to enjoy it.

The second half of the book, where we learn about the American business of religious fundraising, was somewhat interestin
...more
Donna
Crazy for God is a remarkably frank, nuanced autobiography by a sensitive, artistic man whose experiences in growing up were, to say the least, unusual. Much has been said about his role in promoting right-wing religious extremism in America, not to mention its tragic impact on American government. He now speaks eloquently about that topic, and his interviews on the subject (many of which are available as video clips online) are worth a listen.

One aspect of Schaeffer's life story that deserves m
...more
Ruth
Not only did Frank Schaeffer's parents loom large in the intellectual & faith development of many I was close to as I grew up, but it turns out, not surprisingly, that his upbringing & mine have some eerie parallels. My parents weren't nearly so famous, thank God, but they were pretty big fish in a smaller pond, & I identify with some key elements of Schaeffer's experiences growing up as the privileged child of expatriate parents who were idealized for their insight & dedication ...more
Ancient
I didn't know anything about the Schaeffers or their reputation and standing among Evangelicals before I read this one. I suppose people who knew of Frank before he turned his back on fundamentalist, right wing, conservative Christianity will get more out of this one than someone who didn't.

The anecdotes about the reality of Schaeffer's famous family vs. their outward appearance and reputation are interesting, but I the book left me wanting. Schaeffer spends most attention on his early years, o
...more
Adam Shields
Short review: This is my favorite memoir so far this year. It is not new, but I have not read it previously because of some preconcieved notion that it was a screed against his parents. It is not. It is an honest look at growing up in the Evangelical spotlight. With imperfect people as parents (as we all did.) If Frank did not place the focus of the book on his own problems and shortcomings it might feel like a screed. But Frank is sure that for every real and honest complaint about his parents ...more
glenn toering-boyes
Having gone to university in the 70s, the writing of Francis Schaeffer and his work with his son, Frank were important for me as I wrestled with issues of faith, especially of an intellectual nature, on the campus. Though my own thinking has long evolved from those years of philosophical reflection, the influence remains. To read Frankie's personal response to those years, were interesting, showing the humanness of his parents, and the ugly side of Evangelicalism that I have suspected in my late ...more
Kati
What should I say? I was really captivated by this book; it kept me right there with it. I found it fascinating and not terribly surprising to learn about the inner, complicated, mixed life of two of fundamentalist Christendom's biggest stars: Francis and Edith Schaeffer. I thought that Frank did an admirable job being self-aware and strove for balance. He did have me wincing at times as he explained a group of people he assumes his audience does not have their own opinion of. Or maybe he assume ...more
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Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. Frank is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as “pretty terrible.” He is also an acclaimed ...more
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“What's the point of quoting the Bible to people who don't believe it's true" Dad would say.” 6 likes
“...evangelicalism is not not so much a religion as a series of fast-moving personality cults.” 6 likes
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