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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

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,892 ratings  ·  305 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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3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,892 ratings  ·  305 reviews


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Jeff Sharlet
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Matt
Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
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
...more
Jim Coughenour
Feb 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
Allison
Aug 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Mary
Dec 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Becca
May 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Feeling guilty about enjoying this...
Michelle
Nov 20, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Bart Breen
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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
Mark
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Nelleke Plouffe
As a "Crazy for God" evangelical, Calvinist person myself, I did not expect to appreciate this book as much as I did. I have always had great respect for Francis and Edith Schaeffer and their work, and this book really didn't take away from that for me. It revealed that they were human and made mistakes and had blind spots, serious ones that sometimes resulted in harm to people they loved. This book had me thinking long and deeply about the dangers of putting people up on a pedestal, about the n ...more
Peacegal
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a thought-provoking memoir that helps shed some light on how the major social/moral issues dividing us today became such "culture war" fodder. (Hint: Not only are these political battles relatively recent, but many of their "champions" are rather cynical folks using the topics as a launching pad to fame.)

Schaeffer once made broad, sweeping political statements, never saw grey areas, and demonized anyone he saw as liberal or secular. Even though he remains a man of faith, today, his view
...more
Carol Merritt
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
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.
Bobby Sullivan
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
David L.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, memoir
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
...more
Denise Ballentine
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
Kim
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Michael Perkins
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
favorite quote....

“The public image of the leaders of the religious right I met with so many times also contrasted with who they really were. In public, they maintained an image that was usually quite smooth. In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to Pat Robertson, who wo
...more
Kacie
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating for me, though it is controversial and very much a book written about life within the evangelical sub-culture. Frankie Schaeffer has written a tell-all memoir about his famous parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, growing up in the famed L'Abri community in Switzerland, being involved in the beginning and growth of the Religious Right, and growing bitter and angry and moving out of the community entirely. If you know much about these topics, reading his insider perspect ...more
Kirsten
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kirsten by: Donna Brown
Well, I finally finished this book - 1 week shy of a full year (!!) I have been reading it in between library books. Let the time it took not reflect the enjoyment I had. I started it not long after I finished Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal. So I had had my fill of nauseating evangelical behavior. Thus, I wasn't sure how I would take to this story.

I was very pleasantly surprised. I actually found his family quite lovable. Even though he became disillusioned with the religious right, it se
...more
Dawn Lennon
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Fascinating, informative, chilling, engaging, and disturbing, this memoir is both multi-layered and a wild ride, with many twists and turns, often unresolved issues, and a realistic portrayal about how complex a life, any life, can be. In this case, Schaeffer lets us into the evolution and then abrupt turn of a set of religious principles set by his parents that turned into a caccooning of their son, a caccoon that it took decades to emerge from. If anything, this book demonstrates how parents, ...more
Travis
Dec 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
I picked this out at some point based entirely on the title, without knowing who this guy or his father were. I was looking for something more of an escaping a cult memoir, I guess. Instead this book is about 70% random personal memoir, mostly of his quirky childhood in Europe, and 30% about how he ended up finding himself a leader of the evangelical movement while thinking all these other guys like James Dobson and Pat Robertson were crazy, and eventually getting himself out of that while still ...more
Caden
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I was unsure of what to think of this book. Initially, I disliked it. There were a lot of parts that seemed to drag on, the author providing too many details that distracted from the overall picture.

Chapter 57 is what redeemed the book for me. The main focus is on Roe v. Wade and the ideas surrounding abortion, politics, and the political landscape that we have a nation have become victims to. There were many thought provoking ideas in this chapter and subsequent ones that really caught my atte
...more
CJ
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I hope this book makes me a better person of faith, or more self-aware. I take lessons/reflections. But more, it just tells a complex human story. When the child of Christian apologist Schaeffer tells all the messy and as he says even abusive family elements, it’s really serious. The weight of responsibility and loneliness of his father, the “martyr” perception yet force of personality of his mother.

Frank claims that he gave intellectual weight to anti-abortion as an issue of the Religious Righ
...more
Don
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
“Crazy for God” essentially consists of three books: an insider account of Evangelical demigods Francis and Edith Schaeffer; a personal memoir of their youngest (most rebellious) child, Frank; and a brief history/critique of American Evangelicalism.

The passages about Francis and Edith are by far the most memorable, even, I would assume, for those who don’t know anything about their lives. Frank holds nothing back, giving us both the good and the bad. And the bad really is bad. For example, he r
...more
Donna
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
David
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
...more
Karen
Jun 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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
Karen
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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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
“The problem with the evangelical homeschool movement was not their desire to educate their children at home, or in private religious schools, but the evangelical impulse to "protect" children from ideas that might lead them to "question" and to keep them cloistered in what amounted to a series of one-family gated communities.” 13 likes
“What's the point of quoting the Bible to people who don't believe it's true" Dad would say.” 7 likes
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