Frank Schaeffer is an interesting fellow. I first took notice of him when I watched Kevin Miller's film Hellbound?. Frank gave some really nice insight in that movie, and articulated his thoughts in ways that really resonated with me.
Since then I have followed Frank and his writing, speaking, and even browsed through some of his recent paintings. In all of these art forms, Frank is very honest. Honest about himself, his life, his mistakes, his triumphs, and most noticeably, his thoughts about God and how they've changed from his early days as a Christian Right leader.
Let's just say that he has many thoughts about that:)
Frank has been self-publishing his recent books, so he's reached out to his readers for help. I reviewed his last book, And God said, "Billy!", and you can read that review here.
I enjoyed that whole experience so much that I asked for a digital copy of his most recent book Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God. How's that for a title?!
The subtitle for the book is How to Give Love, Create Beauty, and Find Peace. I must be honest that from the first time I heard Frank say that phrase, I have been daily repeating it over and over in my head. I have thought about those words a lot and how I might be able to inject them into the lifeless days that I often catch myself mindlessly trying to just get through, like a grey Walker hobbling my way down the highways of Georgia.
This subtitle became my mantra, or my prayer if you don't like the word mantra.
The refreshing thing about this book is that it's all honesty. Frank tells stories about his life, and the people that are most important to him and then wrestles with the reasons for why and how they are in his life and impact him in the way that they do.
The title makes sense the further you read. What seems like a paradox is actually just a way of saying Frank is living in between the tensions of belief and doubt. Show me a Christian that says he has never doubted and I will show you a bald faced liar. Show me a doubter who has never seen beauty and wondered if maybe it just might have been put there on purpose and I will... well, you get the idea.
Things I learned from reading this book:
- God is most real in Jesus. The Bible is where we learn about a lot of different things, but let us not worship a book.
It this way I would say that "Love others as you love yourself" is more true and important than what Leviticus has to say about cubits and cloth mixing.
- Theology is messy. Enjoying the simple things in life is a way to bring out the bright colours. The things that give us joy helps others see the light and salt in us.
- I don't have all of the answers and I don't need to pretend that I do in order to have a rich and full life of loving God and others.
- It could be God speaking to me through the sunset or the twinkle in my son's eyes when he looks at me, or it could be some sort of scientific phenomenon. I'm going to choose that it's both!
I will say that I really appreciated this book. It's not humorous, as that was not it's purpose. What I appreciated about it was that it was honest and real.
The honesty comes through in that it's relatable. I see myself with my own kids, playing street hockey out front, watching my kids dream the same dreams I once did not long ago, taking it all in and concluding that these moments are gifts.
These moments are what life is all about whether you believe in God or not... or perhaps if find yourself somewhere in the middle.
In the meantime...
create beauty, give love and find peace.