Monday, November 27, 2006

Frank Schaeffer, Mother, and Monkey Blood

By Rick Pearcey

When I met Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, in Switzerland in 1972, he went by the name "Franky."

Because Nancy and I met in Switzerland at L'Abri Fellowship, people sometimes ask us, with a note of concern: How is Franky doing? The answer has always been, "I don't really know," because I haven't really known.

Once I did have supper with him and his wife, Genie, along with another fellow, in the basement of Chalet Les Melezes. Really enjoyed it.

I recall talking with Franky about how it might be worthwhile, given his dad's study of Western thought, interest in the arts, and so on, that his father might consider doing some kind of a film project in response to Kenneth Clark's book and video series titled Civilisation (which is out now in DVD, by the way -- I finally purchased a copy).

Several years later I saw Franky and the gang again in St. Louis (after the How Should We Then Live? project was completed). The Schaeffers were in the U.S. on a pro-life tour based on the newly published book and film project Whatever Happened to the Human Race? I think the younger Schaeffer and I said, "Hi," and that's about it.

The most recent time I saw Frank was when he was on C-SPAN. He was giving a lecture on his new coauthored book AWOL, I think, and afterward, in response to a question, he let loose with a "Godd---" something or other.

Now we have Frank Schaeffer blogging at the Huffington Post, in a submission dated Nov. 25, 2006, and titled, "Jesus and the Monkey Blood -- Growing Up Fundamentalist Then Joining the Human Race." This post may confirm the misgivings of many.

Here's a bit of what Frank writes: "In 1954 I got polio. I was two-years-old and fortunate that the doctor Mom took me to didn't kill me. This 'polio specialist' talked Mom into allowing him to replace some of my spinal fluid with a 'special serum' he made from tapping the spinal fluid of chimpanzees.

"Years later Mom admitted she knew that this sounded crazy but she prayed for guidance anyway. Apparently God told her to proceed. They administered one 'treatment.'

"When I told this story to Dr. Koop, a friend who was about to be appointed by President Reagan as Surgeon General, he said that you couldn't design a better method to murder a child."

On Frank's bio that pops up at Huffington, there's this: "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 and producer of four ('pretty terrible') low budget Hollywood features, and a best selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Frank's three semi-biographical novels about growing up in a fundamentalist mission include Portofino, Zermatt, Saving Grandma."

Frank has made strong statements and will have to defend them. Like it or not, he's stuck with being Schaeffer's son, and if he's going to write what he's written, blowback shouldn't surprise him.

Having said that, apart from Frank's report on his upbringing, let those of us who care about the direction of society ourselves not be surprised: Dehumanizing secularism is often preceded by dead orthodoxy is often preceded by killer activism.

Life is hard. Let's not make it harder. People are wounded. Let's not wound them more. And don't let their anger scare you away.

Rick Pearcey is editor and publisher of The Pearcey Report.


shelah said...

This phrase is so true: "dead orthodoxy is often preceded by killer activism"... this has been something I've been working through lately in my own life - how to honor God by supporting the truth without making truth the end. Truth is not the end, God is. If we substitute being right for being redeemed, we shouldn't be surprised when the world sees empty religion.

stein said...

I knew Franky Schaeffer briefly in his "film mogel"personna. I also know some of the people in his book and I am a strong supporter of L'Abri, who has been enriched by their commitment to God.
I started to read "Crazy for God"out of curiosity. When I found myself looking up individuals to read the "dirt" on them, I shut the book.
There is nothing Christlike or charitable about exposing people to public humiliation and scrutiny. Memoirs are by people who find themselves fascinating. Making your own sin public and then patting yourself on the back for honesty is farcical.
Franky seems to have the same fascination with "naughty" language as Annie Lamott. Not an attractive trait in your late fifties.
I have no idea how "true" the book is, but then I was unaware that Franky was an Evangelical leader. As to his innumerable talents and courage I only have his word for it and the testimonials he so thoughtfully provides.
His films speak for themselves.
I haven't read his "fiction" but then I was unaware he was a "best selling author". I do know that being Francis Schaeffer's son opened a lot of doors for him.
It appears he is still making a living off it.