Friday, November 02, 2007

Child-Parents Ad-Hominem

Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis and Edith Schaeffer, has wrote a book about his own childhood and, inevitably, describing his famous Calvinist-Evangelical parents' lives.

I have not read the book but from the review that i read, i can't help but to guess that this book will be a surprise to many who hold Francis Schaeffer as a 'hero'. The book recaptualizes some of the insider's eyewitness testimony of being and growing up in the Schaeffer family:

(I'm here pasting from the review)

- (Edith Schaeffer) relentlessly policed Frank's masturbatory practices while keeping him informed of all the anatomical changes his older sisters were undergoing as they grew up.

- At the height of L'Abri's cachet, full of anger and passions, (Francis Schaeffer) could go in the space of a minute or two from throwing a lamp at Edith or thrashing a child upstairs to giving a sermon on the mercy of Jesus downstairs.

- Frank asserts without qualification that his parents "were happiest when farthest away from their missionary work."

- The very Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures that Francis denigrated (in comparison to Northern European Reformation works) in Escape From Reason were the ones, according to Frank, that he loved the most and could not stop visiting.

- As the Schaeffers got more famous (and portrayed themselves more and more as an exemplary Christian family), Frank notes, their annual family reunions were beset by strife, with constant fights between the sons-in-law about fine points of doctrine.

So far, i have only come across Francis Schaeffer's intellectual work in the market, not much about his personal life. And here is a description provided by his own son. A not-so-exciting description, it seems. Is this an ad-hominem from a son to his father?

If these accounts are true, it just recalls the obvious: that we humans, no matter how intellectual or how respectable one can be, are always failing in many quaters in life.

5 comments:

Kar Yong said...

Thanks for the reminder that deep within every saint is ultimately a sinner!

The Inquisitor said...

You might be interested in this website:

http://www.internetmonk.com/essays/

tsl said...

and really, wat is the pt of reading about the skeletons in people's closets? i'm sure everyone has ugly pasts and secrets we never want others to know. Which is precisely why we are saved by grace.

:)

Sze Zeng said...

Hi tsl,

I find myself agree with you. Unexpected stories of respected Christians often stumbles their admirers. But personally, i dont think so. These stories in fact reassert the very fabric of life: (1) we are fallen, (2) we are saved by grace.

:)

Benjamin Ho said...

yes, i've read about this. Whatever shortcomings the Schaeffers may have as a family, their contribution to Christianity have been immense - as many can testify to. In anycase, I am not comfortable with Frank Schaeffer coming out and doing an expose on his family. This is not to mean that skeletons in the closet are acceptable, but rather, to acknowledge the fact that one of the ten commandments in the Bible is to honor one's parents - something which I think Frank didnt do a very good job in.

But yes, i agree with you. These stories remind us of our fallen humanity, that we are in need of grace. The Schaeffers will amen to that.