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Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway

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“A penetrating analysis of political extremism, with a moving and at times hilarious account of growing up in one of the Christian right’s most influential families. Few writers command Frank Schaeffer’s intimate understanding of right-wing radicalism, and even fewer are able to share their insight as entertainingly and with as much moral weight as he has in Sex, Mom, and “A penetrating analysis of political extremism, with a moving and at times hilarious account of growing up in one of the Christian right’s most influential families. Few writers command Frank Schaeffer’s intimate understanding of right-wing radicalism, and even fewer are able to share their insight as entertainingly and with as much moral weight as he has in Sex, Mom, and God.”—Max Blumenthal, author of Republican Gomorrah  “Mom was a much nicer person than her God. There are many biblical regulations about everything from beard-trimming to menstruating. Mom worked diligently to recast her personal-hygiene-obsessed God in the best light.” Alternating between laugh-out-loud scenes from his childhood and acidic ruminations on the present state of an America he and his famous fundamentalist parents helped create, bestselling author Frank Schaeffer asks what the Glenn Becks and the Rush Limbaughs and the paranoid fantasies of the “right-wing echo chamber” are really all about.  Here’s a hint: sex.  The unforgettable central character in Sex, Mom, and God is the author’s far-from-prudish evangelical mother, Edith, who sweetly but bizarrely provides startling juxtapositions of the religious and the sensual thoughout Schaeffer’s childhood. She was, says Frank Schaeffer, “the greatest illustration of the Divine beauty of Paradox I’ve encountered … a fundamentalist living a double life as a lover of beauty who broke all her own judgmental rules in favor of creativity.”  Charlotte Gordon, the award-winning author of Mistress Bradstreet, calls Sex, Mom, and God “a tour de force . . . Sarah Palin, ‘The Family,’ Anne Hutchinson, adultery, abortion, homophobia, Uganda, Ronald Reagan, B. B. King, Billy Graham, Hugh Hefner—it’s all here. This is the kind of book I did not want to end.”


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“A penetrating analysis of political extremism, with a moving and at times hilarious account of growing up in one of the Christian right’s most influential families. Few writers command Frank Schaeffer’s intimate understanding of right-wing radicalism, and even fewer are able to share their insight as entertainingly and with as much moral weight as he has in Sex, Mom, and “A penetrating analysis of political extremism, with a moving and at times hilarious account of growing up in one of the Christian right’s most influential families. Few writers command Frank Schaeffer’s intimate understanding of right-wing radicalism, and even fewer are able to share their insight as entertainingly and with as much moral weight as he has in Sex, Mom, and God.”—Max Blumenthal, author of Republican Gomorrah  “Mom was a much nicer person than her God. There are many biblical regulations about everything from beard-trimming to menstruating. Mom worked diligently to recast her personal-hygiene-obsessed God in the best light.” Alternating between laugh-out-loud scenes from his childhood and acidic ruminations on the present state of an America he and his famous fundamentalist parents helped create, bestselling author Frank Schaeffer asks what the Glenn Becks and the Rush Limbaughs and the paranoid fantasies of the “right-wing echo chamber” are really all about.  Here’s a hint: sex.  The unforgettable central character in Sex, Mom, and God is the author’s far-from-prudish evangelical mother, Edith, who sweetly but bizarrely provides startling juxtapositions of the religious and the sensual thoughout Schaeffer’s childhood. She was, says Frank Schaeffer, “the greatest illustration of the Divine beauty of Paradox I’ve encountered … a fundamentalist living a double life as a lover of beauty who broke all her own judgmental rules in favor of creativity.”  Charlotte Gordon, the award-winning author of Mistress Bradstreet, calls Sex, Mom, and God “a tour de force . . . Sarah Palin, ‘The Family,’ Anne Hutchinson, adultery, abortion, homophobia, Uganda, Ronald Reagan, B. B. King, Billy Graham, Hugh Hefner—it’s all here. This is the kind of book I did not want to end.”

30 review for Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Hall

    I just read one of the most spiritually, politically, and psychologically significant books I have ever read: Frank Schaeffer’s Sex, Mom, And God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—And How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway. My God, America needs this book. We need it like a slap in the face, like a long cold drink of water, like a goodnight kiss on the crown of our beloved heads from a long-lost father. We need this book to heal. I realized just how important this I just read one of the most spiritually, politically, and psychologically significant books I have ever read: Frank Schaeffer’s Sex, Mom, And God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics—And How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway. My God, America needs this book. We need it like a slap in the face, like a long cold drink of water, like a goodnight kiss on the crown of our beloved heads from a long-lost father. We need this book to heal. I realized just how important this book was going to be when I read the following passage, on page 50: “Since the 1970s the American culture wars have revolved around a fear of Sex and women no less insane and destructive than any horror story to come out of Afghanistan. The issues of gay rights, abortion, premarital sex, virginity, abstinence, and the ‘God given role’ of women (make babies, love Jesus, and shut up) have dominated our political and social debates. Why? Because sexual politics (American style) illustrates how deranged societies become when ideas about Sex are based on literal interpretations of the biblical ‘account’ of the ‘facts’ of existence.” BAM. Now that is succinct. And revelatory. Then, on the very next page, I encountered this: “…what started in the 1950s and 1960s as an attempt to balance sexual fear with sanity tumbled into yet another example of dysfunctional American extremism. This happened because the practitioners of three American belief systems (that are so intense they might as well be religious) unwittingly colluded: Progressives (absolutist believers in unregulated Free Speech), conservatives (absolutist believers in unregulated Free Enterprise), and conservative Christians (absolutist believers in the uncleanness of Sex between anyone not married in a heterosexual ‘traditional’ marriage) created a sordid monster—Porn-Gone-Nuts.” Damn, y’all. Who says stuff like this—who sings this kind of truth? Frank Schaeffer, that’s who. And that is one of the most beautiful things about this book: it was written by a man, a former member of the Religious Right. Other people could have said the things he has said—the truths are there to be read and spoken, as surely as the words my grandmother used to scrawl on the back of her hand, personal notes for the world to see—but to hear them spoken by someone who used to promote the distorted world views that have contributed to the problem of American sexual dysfunction? That’s significant. Here is a writer who is both very brave and very necessary, a voice of reason who gives depth and shape to what can seem like a reasonless landscape. I underlined and starred and put exclamation points by so many passages in this book—passages about religion, about women, about human conceptions and misconceptions of God. Part self-deprecating memoir, part searing political commentary, the book invites you in, makes friends with you, and then gets brazenly, breathtakingly real. Obviously, I could go on and on. This was one of those rare books that opened my eyes to new horizons, whatnot like a trip to Europe. Mr. Schaeffer educated me about abortion and Evangelical Christianity (he even explained Sarah Palin, God bless him), and the book resonated with me both spiritually and intellectually. I believe this book needs to be read by a very wide audience—there are many people, like me, who don’t entirely “get” what it means to interpret the Bible literally, and therefore have trouble wrapping their minds around the things that are happening to women’s rights in this country. While the author’s politics are clear—he certainly isn't aligned with the Republican party anymore—this book lives according to its own values. For example, when discussing the Left’s view of abortion, Mr. Schaeffer says: “Pro-choice advocates made some mind-bogglingly dumb (and extreme) choices in the tactics they used to pursue abortion rights.” (p. 144) And then there’s this: “The Right and Left seem agreed on one thing: Fighting over Roe is easier than struggling for education rights and tax and social reform to help the poor women who are the people who have most of the abortions.” (p.212) Commentary like this—that calls both parties out on their political posturing—is what this country needs to move forward on just about every issue there is. What we need to have a real conversation, with real results. You know why? It speaks the truth. And, as Jesus said, the truth shall set you free.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    An angry little man rants about his childhood. It ranges from uncomfortable to incomprehensible. Half the time it seems that Frank wants to shock the reader with his opinions and the other half he just wants to lay down on a sofa and talk about how he feels about his mother. At some level, I think he really wants to talk about the intersections between politics and religion, but he can't seem to get over how personally affected he was by the whole thing, darn it. On one level, it might make for An angry little man rants about his childhood. It ranges from uncomfortable to incomprehensible. Half the time it seems that Frank wants to shock the reader with his opinions and the other half he just wants to lay down on a sofa and talk about how he feels about his mother. At some level, I think he really wants to talk about the intersections between politics and religion, but he can't seem to get over how personally affected he was by the whole thing, darn it. On one level, it might make for some interesting Joycian stream-of-consciousness reading, where thoughts about political movements, beach vacations, and your parents having sex blur find themselves in a single paragraph. It would make for pretty good parody material if you didn't know otherwise. Lack of editing aside, Mr. Schaeffer can't make a point without tying it to a snide ad hominem. Those looking for an honest look at post-evangelism should go elsewhere. Even if all you wanted was a name to attach to you current beliefs, you can do far better than this hack.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Frank’s Schaeffier’s , Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway Kindle (Edition) is the single worst thing I have read in many years. I came into this book having read and enjoyed his Calvin Becker Trilogy and liked his autobiography, Crazy for God. (Given how much Sex, Mom and God is about his youth, it is almost unintelligible unless you have read at this book first.) Mostly I agree with his politics and mu Frank’s Schaeffier’s , Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway Kindle (Edition) is the single worst thing I have read in many years. I came into this book having read and enjoyed his Calvin Becker Trilogy and liked his autobiography, Crazy for God. (Given how much Sex, Mom and God is about his youth, it is almost unintelligible unless you have read at this book first.) Mostly I agree with his politics and much of what he says about religion. The problem? It is very badly written. Those who most need to read it will either never get close to it, or read more than a few pages. Those who least need to read it may enjoy hearing the echoes of what they already think. Then comes the muddled logic, repetitious whining, hectoring denigrations and his very odd recollections of his personal role in creating the modern, politicized religious right. Not just odd, but oddly self-congratulatory. Why so much detail about how much money he made writing and producing and cooperating with (Name drop here)? On the good side he repeats what are intended to be panegyrics in favor of his wife, children and in particular his new respect for and love of his aging mother. Not so much for his abusive religious firebrand father. Taken together they could be read as precious and while never maudlin they have a vibe of being formulaic. I do not doubt his sincerity in his feelings towards his nearest and dearest. I question his motive in using them to cloak whatever he is discussing at the time he falls back on how wonderful is his family. He is self-depreciating. Given some of what he has done with his life, and how much of it he regrets; that is motive enough for this book. However, his new, more enlighten positions are where the muddle gets deepest. He rejects much of the politics of the religious right, while clinging to many of its goals. He shames literal Bible believers, but his case is emotional rather than substantive. Much of this is his angriest material and here he is often shouting rather than being insightful. No new arguments, just the old ones, loud. The driving issue that his earlier self and his father had used to from the religious right as a political block was abortion. He is at once pro and anti-abortion, never mind making sense of it. He seems to feel that no one has ever sought common ground between the pro and anti sides. They have. They agree that abortion is like being pregnant. It is hard for a person to be slightly pregnant and it is hard for that person to submit to being slightly aborted. He would toss Roe V Wade, not because it was wrong but because it set a standard for the US in one step. His preference would have been to ignore all of the conditions that he would count as justifiable to allow women to have choices be selectively available based on the happenstance of geography. Obviously (he thinks), the historic forces were pro abortion and once allowed no state would ever rethink that position. Meantime whatever suffering having a choice would have ended is to be ignored because, well because he can or could have. In other words, has no comfort for the Pro-Life person and barely an appreciation for the Pro Choice person. He calls for a middle ground and never defines it. Whatever your take on the issue, he neither echoes your beliefs nor bridges the gap. His solution for his readers? People can and should be willing to live miserable lives, not doing or being what they could be because one day they - Might be grandparents! Being a grandparent solves everything. How Cute.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karyl

    Why did I pick this up? I had no idea who Frank Schaeffer was before I noticed the title of this book at my local library. I'm not a member of the Religious Right, and neither am I an Evangelical. But it was interesting, nonetheless. As a moderately liberal agnostic, I have wondered why the Right is so vehement about its positions, why it's so rabid and hate-filled, why it refuses to admit that America is much more than its religious beliefs. Schaeffer blames the schism in America between the Fa Why did I pick this up? I had no idea who Frank Schaeffer was before I noticed the title of this book at my local library. I'm not a member of the Religious Right, and neither am I an Evangelical. But it was interesting, nonetheless. As a moderately liberal agnostic, I have wondered why the Right is so vehement about its positions, why it's so rabid and hate-filled, why it refuses to admit that America is much more than its religious beliefs. Schaeffer blames the schism in America between the Far Right and the rest of us on the abortion debate, one he championed from the Far Right's side for many years before he abandoned his Evangelical beginnings. I found this quote particularly telling: "In denial of the West's civic-minded, government-supporting heritage, Evangelicals (and the rest of the Right) wound up defending private oil companies but not God's creation, private cars instead of public transport, private insurance conglomerates rather than government care of individuals. The price of the Religious Right's wholesale idolatry of private everything was that Christ's reputation was tied to a cynical union-busting political party owned by billionaires. It only remained for a Far Right Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court to rule in 2010 that unlimited corporate money could pour into political campaigns -- anonymously -- in a way that clearly favored corporate America and the superwealthy, who were now the only entities served by the Republican party. The Evangelical foot soldiers never realized that the logic of their "stand" against government had played into the hands of people who never cared about human lives behind the fact that people could be sold produce. By the twenty-first century, Ma and Pa No-Name were still out in the rain holding an "abortion is Murder!" sign in Peoria and/or standing in line all night in some god-forsaken mall in Kansas City to buy a book by Sarah Palin and have it signed. But it was the denizens of the corner offices at Goldman Sachs, the News Corporation, Koch Industries, Exxon, and Halliburton who were laughing." One can hope that eventually both sides of the political spectrum will realize they can only survive by abandoning their extremes. But unfortunately I don't see that happening. The Religious Right has an "us against the world" mentality that is almost impossible to surmount, as "the world" is far too sinful and worldly. I admit that as a young, moderate-thinking woman, I fear for the future of my nation. It's starting to become quite a scary place. I found the passages that focused more on Schaeffer's own life and experiences to be easier reading than his exposition of politics in America as seen from the Right's point of view. Though I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure I need to read any more of Schaeffer's work.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Why did I read this? A pal sent...knowing there are some Religio Rt nuts on the estate, still to be smothered. Author Schaefer eviserates the religio right (and therefore the ReThug Party). He can do it: his parents were ministerial stars of the Relig Right. The writing is 3-stars, the content 6-stars. He strips bare key Rt points effectively. He damns the Neo-Cons (Normie Podhoretz & Co), but he's most effective on YouTube - don't miss. Now in his 60s, I ask: why did it take him til his 30s to Why did I read this? A pal sent...knowing there are some Religio Rt nuts on the estate, still to be smothered. Author Schaefer eviserates the religio right (and therefore the ReThug Party). He can do it: his parents were ministerial stars of the Relig Right. The writing is 3-stars, the content 6-stars. He strips bare key Rt points effectively. He damns the Neo-Cons (Normie Podhoretz & Co), but he's most effective on YouTube - don't miss. Now in his 60s, I ask: why did it take him til his 30s to see the Light? Bet it was family money -- gathered from the Cause. Still: Let's not ask for the moon when we have the stars, eh? Billy Graham, he notes, became less political as the years passed. Son Franklin ('typical of nepotistic Protestant leadership') became one of the "shrillest of the Far Right Repubs, adding to the fear about the Muslim 'Other.' He embraced overt politics." It's all part of the balderdash that we should be obedient to the 'ancient Jewish-Christian version of God's Law.' The Far Right & the Repubs meet in a smarmy screw, baby!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen Cox

    I think I'd like to have a beer with Frankie Schaeffer, while at the same time being very happy he's not a relative. His father was an architect of the Religious Right; this book is more about his mother, who sounds like someone I really missed by not knowing. The cultivated woman who wore Chanel, knew poets and loved great music -- from Bach to BB King -- also took her Gospel Walnut for witnessing on Italian beaches. Frankie's taken a lot of heat for showing the less attractive side of L'Abri a I think I'd like to have a beer with Frankie Schaeffer, while at the same time being very happy he's not a relative. His father was an architect of the Religious Right; this book is more about his mother, who sounds like someone I really missed by not knowing. The cultivated woman who wore Chanel, knew poets and loved great music -- from Bach to BB King -- also took her Gospel Walnut for witnessing on Italian beaches. Frankie's taken a lot of heat for showing the less attractive side of L'Abri and his father, and for rejecting his youthful right-wing politics, but he's an engaging writer, who conveys his love for his very unconventional family while at the same time noting that they weren't marble models. For those of us who still love God and our churches but cringe at much of what passes for Evangelical culture (Christian bookstores, where "WWJD" bracelets are the most tasteful things on sale!) these days, Schaeffer is an excellent friend and mentor.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Really poignant book. I'm from that fundamentalist background which is so very damaging to anyone, especially a child or young person. This book will enlighten anyone who is wondering about how people in the plethora of fundementalist evangelical churches became that way, and why they are leading the Republican party down a dead-end road. Mr. Schaeffer writes with warmth, humor, and a disarming passion for honesty. Really poignant book. I'm from that fundamentalist background which is so very damaging to anyone, especially a child or young person. This book will enlighten anyone who is wondering about how people in the plethora of fundementalist evangelical churches became that way, and why they are leading the Republican party down a dead-end road. Mr. Schaeffer writes with warmth, humor, and a disarming passion for honesty.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alisa Kester

    It is unfortunate that someone who grew up reading the Bible failed *completely* to understand it. The Bible is most decidedly not anti-women, anti-sex, pro-slavery, or any of the other things Schaeffer thinks is it anti or pro. It's stance on slavery, for instance, must be seen from the perspective of when it was written. Ancient-world slavery was not in any way comparable to the modern American's idea of slavery. Ancient-world slavery was meant to be a temporary state, during which the 'slave' It is unfortunate that someone who grew up reading the Bible failed *completely* to understand it. The Bible is most decidedly not anti-women, anti-sex, pro-slavery, or any of the other things Schaeffer thinks is it anti or pro. It's stance on slavery, for instance, must be seen from the perspective of when it was written. Ancient-world slavery was not in any way comparable to the modern American's idea of slavery. Ancient-world slavery was meant to be a temporary state, during which the 'slave' was fed and educated, and at the end of that period often was married into a good family or became a part owner in the former master's business. People sold *themselves* into slavery, because it was understood to a way into a better life. There is no comparison to the slavery that occurred in America (and is still occurring in America and elsewhere.) Meant to be funny, but mostly is just uneducated and sad.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rob Lund

    I feel I relate to Frank's stories so much. This one is not for everyone. It's rambling and way too confessional in that perpetual teenaged sex-crazed boy way. And yet it's his frankness (pun intended) that I find endearing. He's not sugarcoating his experiences or unhealthily downplaying his struggles. That was what he would have done in his former Evangelical days. Instead now, he's living a fuller, more genuine life outside that old church world. There's a large section in the middle which tac I feel I relate to Frank's stories so much. This one is not for everyone. It's rambling and way too confessional in that perpetual teenaged sex-crazed boy way. And yet it's his frankness (pun intended) that I find endearing. He's not sugarcoating his experiences or unhealthily downplaying his struggles. That was what he would have done in his former Evangelical days. Instead now, he's living a fuller, more genuine life outside that old church world. There's a large section in the middle which tackles abortion rights in a way I hadn't heard before, regarding how Roe v Wade came about and it's implications for progressive politics. I found it very compelling and challenging. The final two chapters and epilogue are beautiful, classic Frank Schaeffer. He talks about apophatic theology, given his new path in life as an Eastern Orthodox convert. It's not the path, as he would say, but a path. This resonates with me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    Did not finish this one. I was enlightened about some things but did not enjoy the writing. Frank Schaeffer seems to have an axe to grind and some of it read like a tabloid magazine. Some of his criticisms seemed overly harsh and almost vindictive. What's that phrase about the newly converted or unconverted? It has been 20 years since he left the faith and I don't think he has made peace with himself yet. Hard reading compared to Carolyn Brigg's Higher Ground. Did not finish this one. I was enlightened about some things but did not enjoy the writing. Frank Schaeffer seems to have an axe to grind and some of it read like a tabloid magazine. Some of his criticisms seemed overly harsh and almost vindictive. What's that phrase about the newly converted or unconverted? It has been 20 years since he left the faith and I don't think he has made peace with himself yet. Hard reading compared to Carolyn Brigg's Higher Ground.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aspen Junge

    I really enjoyed this book. Frank Schaeffer is the son of Evangelical missionaries who went into the "family business," and in the process helped to create the pro-life movement, the Moral Majority, and the religious right as political powerhouses. However, with age and experience comes humility and wisdom, and he grew to disagree with the way that evangelicals were being used as money machines for the Republican establishment and came to understand that you cannot believe that every word in the I really enjoyed this book. Frank Schaeffer is the son of Evangelical missionaries who went into the "family business," and in the process helped to create the pro-life movement, the Moral Majority, and the religious right as political powerhouses. However, with age and experience comes humility and wisdom, and he grew to disagree with the way that evangelicals were being used as money machines for the Republican establishment and came to understand that you cannot believe that every word in the Bible is the literal, inerrant, and complete truth of God without being more than a little crazy. The book begins with a discussion of misogyny in the Bible; how women are "unclean" for half their lives and the originators of sin, and between comparing Evangelical Christianity as it is preached and how his mother lived it (with a great deal of grace and strength) he came to the conclusion that Biblical literalism is an untenable way of life. I admire Schaeffer's strength in being able to change his mind and admit it in public.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristofer Carlson

    As someone who grew up within the fundamentalist milieu, I recognize much of what Frank Schaeffer writes. It has an unmistakable ring of truth, so much that it can be hard to read. On the other hand, sometimes it seems more like gossip, such that I feel excited to read about the sins of others and revulsion at my enjoyment of other people's heartache. Schaeffer has a tendency towards polemic, one of his least endearing qualities. He has been unable to live down nor move beyond his political past As someone who grew up within the fundamentalist milieu, I recognize much of what Frank Schaeffer writes. It has an unmistakable ring of truth, so much that it can be hard to read. On the other hand, sometimes it seems more like gossip, such that I feel excited to read about the sins of others and revulsion at my enjoyment of other people's heartache. Schaeffer has a tendency towards polemic, one of his least endearing qualities. He has been unable to live down nor move beyond his political past; whereas in the 80's he was full of right wing bombast, today his bombast comes from the left. So in a sense it is like nothing has changed. On the other hand, Schaeffer is a much more humane person today, and seems like someone it might be worth knowing. In that sense he has moved well beyond the person he once was. Age has a habit of doing that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Frank is a substandard writer, his content is creepy (I don't care about his childish sexual escapades nor his adult fantasies) and this book was a complete waste of an audible.com credit. Uggghhh... Try Joan Didion's "Blue Nights" or Donna Johnson's "Holy Ghost Girl" Now there are a couple of real writers! I am not quite at the f/u stage of life that Frank brags about but I am close enough to say that this book is a revelation of nothing more than Frank's justifications of his own shortcomings. Frank is a substandard writer, his content is creepy (I don't care about his childish sexual escapades nor his adult fantasies) and this book was a complete waste of an audible.com credit. Uggghhh... Try Joan Didion's "Blue Nights" or Donna Johnson's "Holy Ghost Girl" Now there are a couple of real writers! I am not quite at the f/u stage of life that Frank brags about but I am close enough to say that this book is a revelation of nothing more than Frank's justifications of his own shortcomings.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    This is an amazing book by an amazing person (Frank Schaeffer). We need to study (and even make heroes of) those individuals who have the courage to change their minds. We have a ridiculous culture war raging on, both sides populated with people who could never admit to the slightest possibility they might be wrong about anything. Schaeffer is an insider from one side of the culture wars, and he describes his history, the history of the Christian Right in America, and his own "conversion." This is an amazing book by an amazing person (Frank Schaeffer). We need to study (and even make heroes of) those individuals who have the courage to change their minds. We have a ridiculous culture war raging on, both sides populated with people who could never admit to the slightest possibility they might be wrong about anything. Schaeffer is an insider from one side of the culture wars, and he describes his history, the history of the Christian Right in America, and his own "conversion."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ancient Weaver

    Not terrible, but not entirely original. I sort of get the feeling that the author is coasting off of his past reputation and and past writing with this one as this reads like a somewhat recycled version of what's already in Crazy for God. Not terrible, but not entirely original. I sort of get the feeling that the author is coasting off of his past reputation and and past writing with this one as this reads like a somewhat recycled version of what's already in Crazy for God.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Really three and a half stars. I'm glad I'm in good company with my confussion. The conversations with mom are a riot, I laughed so hard. The end of the book gets a little preachy. But Magical Menstral Mummies is just priceless. Really three and a half stars. I'm glad I'm in good company with my confussion. The conversations with mom are a riot, I laughed so hard. The end of the book gets a little preachy. But Magical Menstral Mummies is just priceless.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

    If you want to have a glimpse into the history of how the Republican Party got so intertwined with Christianity, this is the book to read, or at least start with. It was very eye-opening and I ended up finding quotes/passages that I wanted to refer back to later on 77 pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    113 SEX, MOM, AMD GOD, Frank Schaeffer, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011 Note: If you're a "friend" on FB, there is a link to my Blog: "Bits of my Reading." It's a little better looking site and all 3,864 words are presented. Read pages 263 and 278 for sure. Then tell me what you think. Excerpts ix-x Mom divided everything into Very Important Things, say, Jesus, Virginity, Japanese Flower Arrangements, Lust, See-through Black Lingerie (to be enjoyed only after marriage), and everything else, say, 113 SEX, MOM, AMD GOD, Frank Schaeffer, Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011 Note: If you're a "friend" on FB, there is a link to my Blog: "Bits of my Reading." It's a little better looking site and all 3,864 words are presented. Read pages 263 and 278 for sure. Then tell me what you think. Excerpts ix-x Mom divided everything into Very Important Things, say, Jesus, Virginity, Japanese Flower Arrangements, Lust, See-through Black Lingerie (to be enjoyed only after marriage), and everything else, say, those things that barely registered on my mother’s To-Do List, like home-schooling me. So I’ll be capitalizing some words oddly in this book, such as Sin, God, Love, and Girls, and also words like Him when referring to God. I’m not doing this as a theological statement but as a nervous tic, a leftover from my Edith Schaeffer-shaped childhood and also to signal what Loomed Large to my mother and what still Looms Large to me. 4 . . . the words of the Bible, or even a few notes of an old hymn, cast a shadow of bittersweet nostalgia that defies reason as thoroughly as a whiff of perfume reminds a man of his first lover and evokes a longing that cuts to the heart. 30 I wasted ten years or so of my life chasing “success” in Evangelical and other right-wing circles. Other than collecting material for future novels (and memoirs), I regret every moment I spent selling myths to the deluded, or I should say that I regret selling myths to myself and then passing them on to people as deluded as I was. Then I escaped, or maybe not. I’m still writing about those experiences. 33 Mom was not alone in struggling to make sure people knew that just because she believed in Jesus and was a fundamentalist (in the sense that she held to a literal six-day creation, a universal flood, and so forth) didn’t make her crazy. Believing in invisible things breeds an inferiority complex among people competing with science for hearts and minds. Many religious fundamentalists feel under siege by the secular world and harbor a deeply paranoid sense of victimhood. I think of those who turn their sense of victimhood into material and political success and their claims of persecution into strategies of achieving power as Jesus Victims. I don’t mean they are victims of Jesus, accruing power through the rhetoric of sacrifice and persecution and grasping at conspiracy theories about how the nefarious “World” and all “Those Liberals” are out to do them in. It is this Jesus Victim note of self-pity that ties together “These People,” as some smug secularists might label all conservative religious believers. 51 In reaction to the fear and loathing of Sex, women, and intimacy that resulted from the biblical teachings against premarital Sex, let along against women’s vile uncleanness, a rebellion took place. This rebellion against fear and antisexual prejudice was ushered in by the “free love” prophets-for-profit like Hugh Heffner. But what started in the 1950s and 1960s as an attempt to balance sexual fear with sanity tumbled into yet another example of dysfunctional American extremism. This happened because the practitioners of three American belief systems (that are so intense they might as well be religions) unwittingly colluded: Progressives (absolutist believers in unregulated Free Speech), conservatives (absolutist believers in unregulated Free Enterprise), and conservative Christians (absolutist believers in the uncleanness of Sex between anyone not married in a heterosexual “traditional” marriage) created a sordid monster – Porn-Gone-Nuts. 73 There is another choice: To admit that the best of any religious tradition depends on the choices its adherents make on how to live despite what their holy books “say,” not because of them. “But where would that leave me?” my former self would have asked. “I’d be adrift in an ocean of uncertainty.” Yes, and perhaps that’s the only honest place to be. Another name for uncertainty is humility. No one ever blew up a mosque, church, or abortion clinic after yelling. “I could be wrong.” 83-84 The books written by “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris attack God by attacking religion. But that’s not an argument that even begins to address the question of God (or some other outside power’s meddling in the formation of the Universe, let along first causes in cosmology). The New Atheists’ arguments make sense only as attacks on religion. There’s plenty to attack. But who says religion as practiced today, let along as “revealed” in holy books, has anything to do with an actual Creator? As Vincent Bugliosi writes in his remarkable book Divinity of Doubt, “Harris (like Hitchens) seems to believe something that is so wrong it is startling that someone of his intellect wouldn’t see it immediately, that gutting religion (as Harris tries to do my his technique of decimating faith that fosters religion), does not, ipso facto, topple God.” 85 . . . by the time the writers of the New Testament were remembering forty, fifty, sixty years later what Jesus had said, they were also building a self-interested organization based on His life. They were settling disputes and splits among themselves. What better way to strengthen their arguments than to draft The Master, in 20/20 hindsight, into supporting them in various Early Church turf wars and their fights with each other. How better to win theological battles than to “quote” Jesus about the “correct” view of celibacy or how to “deal with” the Jews or how to scare the faithful into remaining faithful or how to encourage them to stay faithful in the face of Roman persecution? 86-87 Thom Stark begins his book The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries to Hide it) like this: “In the beginning was the Argument, and the Argument was with God, and the Argument was: God. God was the subject of the Argument, and the Argument was a good one. Who is God? What does God require of us?” Stark explains, “The doctrine of biblical inerrancy dictates that the Bible, being inspired by God, is without error in everything that if affirms, historically, scientifically, and theologically.” Stark develops a strong argument against this Evangelical/fundamentalist doctrine of inerrancy. Here’s Stark’s conclusion: The scriptures are not infallible. Jesus was not infallible, or, if he was, we have no access to his infallibility. So where is our foundation? Upon what do we build our worldview, our ethics, our politics and our morality? The answer is that there is no foundation. There is no sure ground upon which to build our institutions. And that is a good thing. That is what I call grace. An infallible Jesus, just like a set of infallible scriptures, is ultimately just a shortcut through our moral and spiritual development. To have a book or a messenger dropped down from heaven, the likes of which is beyond the reach of all human criticism, is a dangerous shortcut. It is no wonder humans have always attempted to create these kinds of foundations. And it is a revelation of God’s character, from my perspective, that cracks have been found in each and every one of those foundations. Maybe (if Stark is right) God feels slandered by the Bronze-Age-to-Roman-era “biography” of Him that, it turns out (judging by the insanity that makes up so much of the Bible), wasn’t an authorized biography, let alone an inspired one. It seems to me that as far as the best parts of Christianity go, traditions of beauty in art, music, and literature and the humanism expressed in the abolition of slavery movement and so forth, what might be called the good results are proof that enlightened believers have been picking and choosing all along when it comes to what they take seriously in the Bible. For instance, many Christians were abolitionists in the fight against slavery. Since the Bible, at best, cancels itself out on this subject, the clearly proslavery bits in juxtaposition to the enlightened do-unto-others bits, the Bible wasn’t the only source of the push for freedom. That enlightenment came from within the hearts of men and women who then cast around for any supporting argument they could find, including some verses taken out of the general context of the proslavery sentiment expressed in the Bible. To reject portions of the Bible is not necessarily to reject God or even the essence of Christianity. A great deal of the Bible is contradicted by the Love that predates it and, more importantly, survives in you and me. And that Love edits the Bible for us. Call that editing the Holy Spirit, or call it a more evolved sense of ethics and human rights, but most people know what to follow and what to reject when it comes to how they live. Sacrifice for others, not sacrifice of others, is the message of the “better angels” of spiritual faith. 88 The fact that religion has time and again been awful is no more here nor there when it comes to God than the fact that humans have damaged everything we’ve touched is an argument for the liquidation of every human being. Indeed, how could religion be anything but a mess? We invented it! That doesn’t mean that the longing for meaning that drove us to invent religion isn’t a reflection of something real: a Creator Who many of us sense is there but Who is also beyond description. I think that the best argument for God’s existence is that humans long for meaning. A corollary is that the word “beauty,” however indefinable, means something real to most people. And then there’s that question about the origin of everything, to which, I think, the only sensible answer is a resoundingly agnostic “We’ll never know.” Meanwhile science truthfully explains our evolution from single-celled organisms. But it doesn’t tell me why I know Bach’s Partita 1 en Si Mineur Double: Presto is more important than a jingle for MacDonald’s Corporation. And even if brain chemistry unravels this secret, it will reveal the how, not the why. But you and I know that when the MacDonald’s Corporation is long forgotten, chances are Bach’s music will have survived. Our longing for God (by whatever name) will also be there as one constant in a future that otherwise may not be recognizable. 100-101 The Reconstructionist worldview is ultra-Calvinist but, like all Calvinism, has its origins in ancient Israel/Palestine, when vengeful and ignorant tribal lore was written down by frightened men (the nastier authors of the Bible) trying to defend their prerogatives to bully women, murder rival tribes, and steal land. (These justifications may have reflected later thinking: origin myths used as propaganda to justify political and military actions after the fact, such as the brutality the Hebrews said God made them inflict on others and/or their position as the “Chosen People.”)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joelle

    While Schaeffer touches on and can lend a unique voice to some of the historical roots of modern evangelicalism in the U.S. (during his and his father's active years in the 50's-early 90's), there is much that his style and craftsmanship leave to be desired. Sex, Mom, and God reads like the disjointed memories of a fading old man. Some are interesting, some even seem to hold a common thread-- the promise of a theme-- only to have that promise dashed by a tale which seemed to come out of the dust While Schaeffer touches on and can lend a unique voice to some of the historical roots of modern evangelicalism in the U.S. (during his and his father's active years in the 50's-early 90's), there is much that his style and craftsmanship leave to be desired. Sex, Mom, and God reads like the disjointed memories of a fading old man. Some are interesting, some even seem to hold a common thread-- the promise of a theme-- only to have that promise dashed by a tale which seemed to come out of the dustiest corner of memory, perhaps only tangentially related. The first unfortunate thing about this work is that the historical narrative describing the underbelly of the marriage between the evangelical church and the conservative right is interlaced with Schaeffer's awkwardly written and, at times, unnecessarily long descriptions of how he lusted after (often significantly) younger women. It is reminiscent of the reddit forum r/menwritingwomen, and it is deeply, profoundly uncomfortable to listen to this older man objectify, body shame, and slut shame the women in his life (even to go so far as to spend multiple paragraphs repeatedly fat shaming the woman sitting across the aisle from him on a Grey Hound bus-- a woman he never meets, nor interacts with in any way). The second, and perhaps even worse unfortunate shortcoming is that Schaeffer repeatedly admits to heavy involvement in the spread of bad ideas and bad policies, but it is rare that he ever owns changing his mind on an issue (despite admitting they were wrong), nor does he take any kind of responsibility or show any remorse whatsoever for his involvement in a movement which he claims himself is harmful and damaging. Schaeffer is another old white man who centers himself and how he, personally, has changed, without acknowledging the many others whose hearts and minds were (and continue to be) harmed as a direct result of his teachings. Schaeffer essentially asks the reader to cut him some slack in this area, pointing to a familial legacy (he merely inherited a ministry empire what else did he know but to perpetuate that business?) and growing up in a home troubled by domestic violence among other things. The reader is asked to consider that it was a different time but now-- the author heavily implies-- he knows better. In the end he waxes poetical about forgiveness, addressing his wife and discussing how when she says 'I forgive you,' it carries special weight because he was so bad and wrong and ignorant but now he's better than he had been. But when Schaeffer pushes off responsibility for the very real harm caused by his work, this sentiment is confusing at best. What, exactly, is he being forgiven for, and why does he deserve that forgiveness? Schaeffer's seemingly intentional vagueness and lack of responsibility talking for his own actions leaves his reader with more unanswered questions than a real understanding of what, exactly, the 'changes' he cites within himself truly were, or why anyone should believe that such a change was real, let alone forgive him for his past wrongs.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I hardly know where to begin talking about this one.  I think I had one eyebrow raised for the entire length of the book.  It alternates between wildly funny, completely bizarre, weirdly pervy, and boomer baby stodgy.  Schaeffer is really quite a character.  Even after shedding his former far-right persona and becoming something like a moderate progressive, it's noticeable how comfortable he is speaking as an authority.  But I want to believe that he is admirable enough to have truly written thi I hardly know where to begin talking about this one.  I think I had one eyebrow raised for the entire length of the book.  It alternates between wildly funny, completely bizarre, weirdly pervy, and boomer baby stodgy.  Schaeffer is really quite a character.  Even after shedding his former far-right persona and becoming something like a moderate progressive, it's noticeable how comfortable he is speaking as an authority.  But I want to believe that he is admirable enough to have truly written this memoir out of remorse for the ways his religious and political work, including his lies and hypocrisy, have hurt generations of women (men too), and for his desire to make amends for the sake of his granddaughters.  I don't come to all the same conclusions that he does on all questions of morality and you might not either, but this is still a very worthwhile read.  

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melody Schwarting

    Have you ever wondered what Jake Paul's book would be like if he was an exvangelical? Shock value, sex constantly on the mind because of cultural expectations for male adolescence, and storytelling that jumps around so much I thought I was on a trampoline. I'm interested in other writings by Frank Schaeffer, but I don't enjoy tell-all memoirs, even with approval of those being written about, so this wasn't for me. However, the title was very appropriate. This was very much about Frank Schaeffer' Have you ever wondered what Jake Paul's book would be like if he was an exvangelical? Shock value, sex constantly on the mind because of cultural expectations for male adolescence, and storytelling that jumps around so much I thought I was on a trampoline. I'm interested in other writings by Frank Schaeffer, but I don't enjoy tell-all memoirs, even with approval of those being written about, so this wasn't for me. However, the title was very appropriate. This was very much about Frank Schaeffer's relationships with sex, his mother, and God. I'm all for keeping folks off pedestals, so I think the true story of Francis Schaeffer's life is important to know, but I could really do without hearing from their son what kind of contraception Francis and Edith Schaeffer used. It's just not worth my time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jann

    Interesting, but a very masculine point of view. I was horrified, as a mother myself, by his hyper-sexualization as a child by a mother who cavalierly discussed her own married sex life with him at the tender age of 8 or even earlier. No surprise he was a father at 17. Too much for me! But his life has followed a very surprising trajectory. And I did find his evolution from child of most famous evangelical parents to artist, to anti-abortion activist, to a more open-minded “spiritual but not rel Interesting, but a very masculine point of view. I was horrified, as a mother myself, by his hyper-sexualization as a child by a mother who cavalierly discussed her own married sex life with him at the tender age of 8 or even earlier. No surprise he was a father at 17. Too much for me! But his life has followed a very surprising trajectory. And I did find his evolution from child of most famous evangelical parents to artist, to anti-abortion activist, to a more open-minded “spiritual but not religious” feminist and adoring grandfather rather fascinating.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ken Sayers

    Frank Schaeffer is incredibly open and honest in this book about his relation with his mother, the Bible and sex. Where as most people try to keep their private thoughts, actions, and struggles hidden (especially about sex), Frank puts them all out there for his readers to consider. This book is highly critical of the “Biblical God” and religious fundamentalism and perhaps rightly so. I think it is a well written book and very interesting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susannah Brister

    Erratic, eccentric, long-winded, often disturbing, and sometimes problematic (e.g., some disturbing fat shaming). But as someone who grew up saturated in the American religious right and evangelical cult-worship of Schaefferism, I couldn't help feeling a sense of relief during parts of this book. When detangling oneself from a toxic religious environment, there's something therapeutic in hearing a fellow escapee say, "Yes, that shit really did happen, and no, it was not ok." Erratic, eccentric, long-winded, often disturbing, and sometimes problematic (e.g., some disturbing fat shaming). But as someone who grew up saturated in the American religious right and evangelical cult-worship of Schaefferism, I couldn't help feeling a sense of relief during parts of this book. When detangling oneself from a toxic religious environment, there's something therapeutic in hearing a fellow escapee say, "Yes, that shit really did happen, and no, it was not ok."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Francis Schaeffer was all the rage when I was involved in the fundamentalist church in the 80s. So learning about the "behind the scenes" of his family life was fascinating. I couldn't put this book down. The damage done by fundamentalist, revisionist Christians is far reaching. And, once again, things are never as they appear when it comes to strict ideologies. People will always be human. Francis Schaeffer was all the rage when I was involved in the fundamentalist church in the 80s. So learning about the "behind the scenes" of his family life was fascinating. I couldn't put this book down. The damage done by fundamentalist, revisionist Christians is far reaching. And, once again, things are never as they appear when it comes to strict ideologies. People will always be human.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Flachman

    I'm a fan of Frank Schaeffer's because, wow. It's hard to find words to describe the damage done by Evangelical dogma and yet he does so in ways that are both sobering and side-splitting. This book is needed and I am so thankful he had the guts to write it, knowing full well the vitriol he would attract from evangelicals. This book is for you if: 1)you were raised Evangelical and want to dig deeper into the psyche of it's darker side, 2)you know an Evangelical and want to understand why they thi I'm a fan of Frank Schaeffer's because, wow. It's hard to find words to describe the damage done by Evangelical dogma and yet he does so in ways that are both sobering and side-splitting. This book is needed and I am so thankful he had the guts to write it, knowing full well the vitriol he would attract from evangelicals. This book is for you if: 1)you were raised Evangelical and want to dig deeper into the psyche of it's darker side, 2)you know an Evangelical and want to understand why they think the way they do, 3)you wonder about how/when/why politics became so polarizing in the land of the free and the home of the brave 4)you are a agnostic, atheist, jewish, Roman Catholic Not for you if: 1) you are steeped in Evangelical doctrine and have absolute certainty of your truth. You will hate it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Janae

    Pretty interesting history of fundamentalism and its ties to the far right. Frank Schaeffer kind of has a weird obsession with describing his sexual encounters with young women though - feels a bit weird.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erica Fraser

    I had to give up half way into this book. I just couldn't read it anymore. I had to give up half way into this book. I just couldn't read it anymore.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This is the next chapter in Frank Schaeffer’s memoir of his evangelical upbringing, his own young adulthood (in which he took his parents’ teachings to the extreme), and his path away from religious fundamentalism and right-wing politics. As someone whose life went in similar directions, I appreciate the stories of someone else who changed his mind. There was a time when Frank’s mother, Edith Schaeffer, was my idol and role model. Maybe now, having seen her feet of clay through her son’s eyes, I This is the next chapter in Frank Schaeffer’s memoir of his evangelical upbringing, his own young adulthood (in which he took his parents’ teachings to the extreme), and his path away from religious fundamentalism and right-wing politics. As someone whose life went in similar directions, I appreciate the stories of someone else who changed his mind. There was a time when Frank’s mother, Edith Schaeffer, was my idol and role model. Maybe now, having seen her feet of clay through her son’s eyes, I like her even more! On the subject of politics, I think this excerpt sums up Schaeffer’s position very well: "Believing that those who disagree with you are your persecutors leads to fear, and fear leads to hate. What feeds the hate? What feeds the paranoia? What nurtures the “we’ve lost our culture” victimhood on the one hand, and hubris about “taking America back for God” on the other hand? America has a problem: It’s filled with people who take the Bible seriously. America has a blessing: It’s filled with people who take the Bible seriously. How does this blessing coexist with the curse derived from the same source: The Bible? The answer is that the Bible is a curse or a blessing depending on who is doing the interpreting. Sometimes belief in the Bible leads to building a hospital. Sometimes it leads to justifying perpetual war and empire building. Same book – different interpretation. If the history of Christianity proves one thing, it’s that you can make the Bible “say” anything."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    This book was a mix of so many things! It's really hard to put into words. He does talk about sex, mom and god. It has a number of stories about his own encounters with women growing up, and he is very open and honest about those encounters. He has only a little bit of respect for the bible, and speaks on the money chasing, sexual hypocrisy of the religious right movement he and his father helped start. In this book he never quite documents his reason for leaving evangelicalism, I'm moving to hi This book was a mix of so many things! It's really hard to put into words. He does talk about sex, mom and god. It has a number of stories about his own encounters with women growing up, and he is very open and honest about those encounters. He has only a little bit of respect for the bible, and speaks on the money chasing, sexual hypocrisy of the religious right movement he and his father helped start. In this book he never quite documents his reason for leaving evangelicalism, I'm moving to his previous book "crazy for God" to hear about that. A big part of his story that he states as fact (not really mentioning the sentiments at the time) is that he got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 17. After 30 years of being married to her he says he doesn't regret it at all. He is thankful to have had kids and grandkids at such a young age. He says that his wife genie is what saved him from being a mean person his whole life. I don't think I'll recommend this book to my staunch evangelical friends...it definitely deconstructs a lot. The good news for evangelicals is his arguments against the bible are definitely anti-evangelical more than they are scholarly and well thought out. I appreciate his current Greek orthodoxy, and it inspires me to connect with that community. I think aside from a few of his rants he has a lot right, and I'm thankful for him and his book.

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