Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My "Private Moment" with Mrs Francis Schaeffer

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In a segment designed to excoriate Michele Bachman and Rick Perry, should he decide to run for President, MSNBC brought in a guest last week whom they knew would deliver the goods against Bachman, Perry or any other Christian leader. Their guest was a man who has smeared conservative Christians as "radical," "weird," the people who "hate America" and people who are secretly working toward an American "Theocracy" to replace the Constitution.

Frank Schaeffer is their man. He is the son of the great theologian, Francis Schaeffer, and his wife Edith.

Francis and Edith co-founded L'abri, a fellowship that welcomed people who were seeking answers to questions about God and the meaning of life. Francis Schaeffer was a widely published author and considered by many to be the most influential evangelical since C.S. Lewis. Both Francis and Edith wrote a number of significant books on living out our faith with a biblical worldview.

Francis Schaeffer is credited by most observers as the most influential leader in the American social, political and spiritual awakening in the past generation, giving rise to the so-called "Religious Right".

So, what happened to Frank, their son?

The lengthy title of his newest book gives you a hint: "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."

Let me share with you my "private moment" with his mother, Edith Schaeffer, regarding her son.

It was 1985. I had just finished taping 2 television programs with my guest Edith Schaeffer.

We had discussed her new book, the ministry of L'brie and the passing of her husband the previous year.

As the production crew cleared the studio, moving to the news studio for the evening news broadcast, Mrs Schaeffer turned to me as we remained on my set in the empty studio and asked, "Can we have a "private moment?"

I answered, "Yes, of course."

"I want to talk about my son, Frankie," she began. "I know you have worked with thousands of kids and young people, including in Hollywood."

Now, 26 years later, and dozens, if not hundreds of TV, radio and newspaper interviews as well as several books in which "Frankie" has excoriated conservative Christians and the values and principles his family so capably taught and advocated, I am certain I am not violating the privacy of our conversation.

As Edith started to tell me about her son, she began to weep.

Through tears, she told me her son was getting into film making and was committed to making only 'R' rated films. She said he told her no one will watch them if they are not 'R' rated.

She said "Gary, what do you think?" I told her I did not believe we needed to become like the world, to reach the world. I said I thought there was a market for family friendly, even faith friendly films. She strongly agreed.

I asked if she felt her son may be rebelling against her and her late husband's belief? And did she feel his expressed desire to reach people with the gospel was authentic. She was unsure.

I told her I had dealt with high profile families in Hollywood where the press would nearly always exploit the situation. If a child rebelled against the moral and spiritual beliefs of their parents, the press would tend to elevate the child. If a child from a secular or atheist family accepted Jesus Christ and the family shunned them, the press would exploit that as well.

She didn't want to think Frankie was rebelling, but was unsure. We spoke for about half an hour.

I have never seen Mrs. Francis Schaeffer since, nor have I ever met Frankie, or Frank as he is now known.

Here's a brief overview of what has happened since that" private moment" 25 years ago:

Last I heard, Edith is living near 2 of her 4 children in Switzerland.

Frank has made about 25 films. He considers 4 of them "feature" films. Most all of them have been documentaries and none have been successful in terms of the entertainment industry. Millions of dollars were invested in the films.

He gave up film making in 1992. He did not make it as a film maker.

Following the end of his film making career, he began writing books--a novel or two, then he co-wrote "The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Class From Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country" with a staff person of former President Bill Clinton. Frank was not embraced by the media, but had some recognition.

But in 2007, he found the acceptance he had been looking for, both from the press and the secular public, when he wrote his autobiography, "Crazy For God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived To Take It All (or almost all) of it Back."

He wrote in this book, "In the mid 1980's I left the Religious Right, after I realized just how anti-American they are."

Schaeffer, who endorsed Obama in 2008, wrote an open letter which was published in a number of newspapers to John McCain, whom he had worked for in the past, and Sarah Palin, saying in part, "If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters...history will hold you responsible for all that follows."

In his just released book, "Sex, Mom and God..." he claims to love his mom and to have learned much from her but, he writes, "I simply chose to follow the 'other' Edith Schaeffer, the one whose heart was elsewhere than in the lifeless theories she paid lip service to."

I did not see that Edith Schaeffer.

I saw a woman who was born and raised in China by Christian missionaries, a woman who, along with her husband, impacted millions of lives for the cause of Christ and a mother who was deeply troubled by her son and the path he was choosing.

Frankie, I saw your mother's broken heart in 1985. I am certain it is broken again. You will not read this, but some very close to you will likely read it. I hope they pass it along.

God has given you extraordinary gifts of writing and public speaking. Hopefully, your need for acceptance by the press and secular elites has been met.

I pray you consider putting aside the personal, poignant revelations of family and use the gifts God has given you for a completely new inspiration. Perhaps those inspirations could come from the things Jesus said and taught.

Gary Randall