Book Chat

This month’s book reviews, which may contain affiliate links:
crazyEnd of another month means time for a look at my reading.  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 by Frank Schaeffer has been on my list for awhile.  Frank is the son of Francis Schaeffer of the famous How Should We Then Live series of the 1970s.  I remember our church showing the films each Sunday night for a LONG time, and sadly I remember almost nothing about them, although now I understand they supposedly marked a pivotal point in uniting Christianity and the arts.

In this book, Frank (or Franky as he was called as a child) basically throws his parents under the bus, along with many evangelicals he formerly befriended.  His mom was the mastermind of the family.  She did it all; exposing her kids to classical music, art, and the finer things in life, and basically bullying her husband into leading a Christian ministry — at least that’s how Franky tells it.  Honestly, I thought his parents came off better than Franky did in this book. Franky admits that his childhood nickname among those who knew his family was “the little sh** from Switzerland,” and insinuates over and over how smart he is, and how dumb most evangelical Christians are (he calls them “low IQ’s” at one point).

Franky has now grown up and, predictably, “matured in his thinking” (i.e., he’s left the evangelicals and republicans and is now liberal).  And he’s not just dishing the dirt on his parents.  No, we learn from Franky that George W. Bush was a “towering mediocrity” whose election Franky, in his wisdom, foresaw would be a huge disaster.

Franky disses James Dobson, Billy Graham (“a very weird man”), and Pat Robertson, among others.  And although he does share some personal negatives (see that previously-mentioned nickname, as well as descriptions of hard times where he stole pork chops from a local store), you can’t help but sense that he feels pretty darn good about himself.  After we’ve spent a few hundred pages reading about how tortured Franky was by his parents, he lets us in a quote from his own daughter:  Listening to my Dad speak was always a pleasure … he was just so good at it … my young parents were good at remembering the needs of childhood.”

Wow – what a guy that Franky is.  I’d like to hear his parents’ thoughts, but unfortunately his dad died in 1984 and his mom is now in her 90s.

Why did I read this sorry tirade into narcissism?  Well, first curiosity – I had seen the films Franky and his dad made, and grew up, as Franky did, in the evangelical Christian world of the 1970s.  Also, the book is well-written.  You’ll enjoy reading about Franky’s life – if you can keep from wanting to shake a little sense into him.

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Bears of Blue RiverOur after-dinner-read for the kids was The Bears of Blue River.  I remember my 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Baughman, reading this to us.  It was written around 1900 and centers on the adventures of Balser, a 13-year-old boy who lives in Indiana around 1820.

It has all the things I love about older classics … rich vocabulary and a  lack of politically-correct jargon and ideas.  Indeed, Balser is off shooting his gun and brutally killing bears, a doe and its fawn, beavers … it was adventurous, that’s for sure.  I think boys would really love all the action.

It is set in Shelby County, not far from where I grew up, and that’s probably why my teacher read it to us.  If you’d like to learn more about just how wild Indiana was back in the days when Lincoln lived here (and also learn about the fire bear, the one-eared bear, and how our hero Balser escapes them all), pick this book up.  It’s enjoyable for kids and adults alike.

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edtulaneOkay, so this edition of Book Chat is a little kid-heavy, but it’s the final week before school starts and I wanted to share the neat books I have read to the kids this summer (incidentally, my kids aren’t that little – they’re 8, 10, and 12 – but they still love to be read to and I love reading to them).

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane was recommended to me by my oldest daughter after she read it.  It’s great for reading aloud:  short chapters, pretty color pictures.  It’s the story of a toy rabbit, Edward, who is “real” and we hear the story through his telling.  Edward goes through a series of owners (and some pretty serious misfortunes – if your child is highly sensitive, parts of the book may be upsetting) and poignant events before finally ending up back home.  It’s a bit like The Velveteen Rabbit kicked up a few notches, and the girls and I really enjoyed it.

If you read or saw the movie The Tale of Despereaux, it’s by the same author.

 


4 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Boy do I ever remember that Schaeffer film series we suffered through at FBC. I wondered if they would ever end. By the time the series ended, very few were attending. But Dr. Silver seemed to really be into it.

  2. I have been wanting to read The Miraculous Journey to my kids for a while. Thanks for reminding me. We read Tale of Desperaux last year, and my son really enjoyed that.

    Thanks for sharing your reviews!

    Lauren from 5MinutesforBooks.com

  3. Loved your thoughts on Crazy for God. I remember when the book came out a few years ago. It caught a lot of people’s attention. To me, it sounded like a book written by a completely disrespectful son and something of an idiot to boot.

    I had totally forgotten about the book and was interested in your thoughts. I had to laugh about “shaking a little sense into him.” ;D I imagine that is what I would feel like doing – although I also admit that the book sounds fascinating!

  4. I liked Franky’s novels better than the memoir. For years my son told me that “Bears of Blue River” was the ONLY good book!! You also make me miss Indiana–my home for most of my life [20 year as an adult in Indianapolis, 4 in Southern Indiana/metro L’ville and four at IU + childhood in Delaware County]

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I enjoy hearing your thoughts.