Religion from the Inside Out

Ok, it’s just an Amazon review, but it’s the who rather than the what that makes this response to our book, Believer, Beware: First-Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith meaningful to us. Frank Schaeffer is a genuine Buddha killer, heir to the name, and, once upon a time, the influence of his father, Francis Schaeffer, the single most influential thinker in the formation of the modern Christian Right. Frank tells the story of growing up fundamentalist royalty, assuming the mantle, and leaving it all, or most of it, behind in his marvelous memoir, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Help Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back. (Read KtBnik Jeff Sharlet’s review in New Statesman.) That’s just one of Frank’s many books, which you can read more about here.

Meanwhile, here’s what Frank has to say about Believer, Beware:

I grew up as a missionary kid, pastor’s sidekick, God merchant, Religious Right leader, you name it. I long since escaped if not to sanity then to a little more happiness. I read other people’s books about religion and most are from the outside in. “Believer Beware” is from the inside out.

It is also laugh out loud funny, touching, irreverent and yet, in a deeper way, pays religion the ultimate compliment: it’s worthy of scrutiny, debate and measuring up on a very personal scale of intimate first hand experience. This is a book for anyone who knows two things: first, that for better or worse religion is important; second, that experiencing religion can be a harrowing passage into the darker side of human frailty.

And yet… here is a book that does not reject faith but rather asks the question: what can faith mean to me after I discard the prejudice that too often comes with the territory of believing you have “the” answers?

Readers will find brilliant writing here, world-class story telling by some veterans of the trade, such as the luminous Jeff Sharlet, and newcomers like Quince Mountain, who tells the funniest and best written story – “Cowboy For Christ” — of transgendered disaster, fundamentalist religion and self discovery I’ve ever read (a story that made me want to read the novel of which this could be a first scintillating chapter.)

This is the most amusing and touching book I’ve sucked up in years. Recovering religion survivors (of all faiths) will embrace “Believer Beware” in the same way that one revisits childhood memories that both haunt and comfort.