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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Love Is The Cure June 20, 2013

loveisthecure
Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
– By Elton John

While there is certainly some very interesting autobiographical material here, this is not primarily an autobiography.  It is a book about AIDS.

Elton looks at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and then brings us up to date.  From the science to societal reaction we’re given the facts, as well as many stories of lives directly impacted by AIDS.  Of course, all our lives are impacted by AIDS.

We start with a story of a small town in Indiana called Kokomo, as we look at the life of Ryan White.  Ryan was a teenage hemophiliac who became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. We see, as Elton John states, that Ryan and his family were “true Christians.”  The story also reveals the very non-Christian actions and attitudes of many of the church-goers and residents of Kokomo at that time.  The majority of the townsfolk ostracize this afflicted boy and his family.  “It seemed like a modern-day witch hunt, and Ryan was to be burned at the stake.” Adults were worse than the kids who teased and tormented him. His entire family suffered. This is some sad, sad commentary on the nature of fear, religion, and those who propose to represent God.  But even through being shunned by the town, his classmates and his “church,” Ryan said “There’s always hope with the Lord. I have a lot of trust in God.”
Eventually, Ryan and his family did have to leave town so Ryan wouldn’t have to be buried in such a place of evil hatred.  The town he moved to, only miles away, welcomed him with open arms.  In the end, Ryan reached the entire nation.
The faith, love, and Christ-likeness of Ryan and his mother forever changed the life of Elton John.  Elton is very honest about how his addictions, anger and ego were in control of his life.  “You can’t imagine how selfish I was at the time, what an asshole I had become.” Seeing Ryan give out so much love in the face of so much hate helped E.J. face his own demons.  Elton entered rehab in 1990 and has been sober ever since.  His interactions and friendship with Ryan White also led to the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Elton shares stories of personal loss, as so many of his friends and acquaintances were suffering and dying from this pandemic. There are stories of people like Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury.

We also see AIDS on more of a national level.  This, of course, includes people like Jerry Falwell, again on their religious high-horses proclaiming AIDS victims are just getting what they deserve.  Even some government leaders help spread the hate, fear, and misinformation that ads fuel to the fire of an already devastating crisis.

And we look at AIDS from a global perspective.
Over in Africa, we see that in addition to an extremely bad AIDS situation, there is also an epidemic of rape.  Someone is raped every 26 seconds.  The men and leaders seem to think this is normal behavior, and punish the women who attempt to report being raped.  These unreported atrocities give tremendous momentum to the spread of the disease.
Another disgusting story is about how the Bayer pharmaceutical company knowingly sold tainted, AIDS transmitting medication to other countries so they wouldn’t have to throw them out and lose money.

Throughout this book, we’re shown the many faces of AIDS.  The involvement of some famous warriors against this disease, like President Bill Clinton, Paul Michael Glaser, Princess Diana,  Elizabeth Taylor, and many others is discussed.  We examine what has been done, and where we need to go from here.

I would be remiss as a reviewer if I did not mention the book’s shortcomings.  They can be summed up by saying “Elton John is not an author.”  The writing stumbles from time to time, and there is much redundancy.
Having said that, the stories are far too interesting, and the information far too vital to miss reading “Love Is The Cure.”

I’ve always enjoyed Elton’s music.  At the same time, I sensed that he was pretty much a jerk.  Reading this book has helped me see a different side of Elton John:
A loving, helpful, mellowed-by-age-and-experience, redeemed Elton John.  When he speaks of his drug use, party-life, and “unprotected” multiple sexual encounters he says that it’s a “miracle” he never contracted AIDS.  I feel he does not use that word lightly.
His miracle is one with which I can totally identify.

“Love Is The Cure” is truly an eye-opener, and I thank God that Elton John has written it.


Buy the book. Click HERE.


[For years, now, my wife and I have been involved in raising funds for our local AIDS Task Force here in Fort Wayne, Indiana through  their annual “AIDS Walk.”  This year’s walk is over, but you can still donate.
If you’d like to do so, click: www.Aids-Walk.info.
Thanks! Dave.]

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

– The bottom line is, we’re all human, and we all deserve to be helped and to be loved.
– I was consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else. I apparently never got the memo that the “Me” Decade ended in 1979. The Elton ego train kept rolling right through the ‘8Os.
– Ryan White inspired a nation, changed the course of a deadly epidemic, and helped save millions of lives.
– As a child with hemophilia, Ryan had been treated with compassion. As a child with AIDS, many treated him with contempt.
– Many religious institutions, governments, and the general public sent an unmistakable message to people with AIDS: We do not care about you.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Falwell and his ilk helped guarantee the AIDS epidemic would get far worse.
– It still stings to recall the pure, unadulterated hatred that was spewed at gays and AIDS sufferers.
– What makes AIDS so frightening, so very lethal, is that it takes advantage of more than our biological weaknesses. It take advantage of our social weaknesses.
– Conservative religious and political leaders continue to stand in the way of implementing what we know for a hard fact will save millions upon millions of lives.
– Fighting stigma is difficult work. Instead of directing our animosity and fear at someone’s disease, we direct it at the person who is sick.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The discrimination that the LGBT community [in Haiti] faced after the earthquake is hard to stomach.
– Like many people, I deeply regretted much of what [George W. Bush] did in office, but [his] decision to take aggressive action [with his [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] saved millions of lives.
– There are 2.5 million people infected with HIV in India, and their government has said essentially, “We don’t care about any of you because some of you are gay.”
– We certainly can’t do it without religious institutions on our side. Their power is too great, their influence too far-reaching. There is no excuse for furthering pain and injustice in the name of any god.
– For a small fraction of what was spent on the war in Iraq, America would forever be heralded as the country that won the war against AIDS.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The cure for AIDS is a matter of changing hearts and educating minds.
– The fight against AIDS comes down to compassion.

Buy the book. Click HERE.



WE ALL HAVE AIDS

 

Holy Terror July 14, 2012


“Becoming an activist is simply a matter of putting love into action.”

Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality
– Mel White
———–

Essential Reading!
This is another “I-wish-I-could-make-everyone-read-it” book.

“Holy Terror” contains vital recent past history, chronicling  and exposing the war on America by the religious right.  The material here isn’t conjecture, or hyped partial-truths.  This book is written by an “insider.”
Mr. White was a significant player in fundamentalist evangelical circles.  And for a time, he bought into the lies.
He knew, and worked with people like Billy Graham,  Francis Schaeffer, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Pat Robertson.

Mel White knows of what he speaks!  And what he speaks of is some very, very scary stuff!
We learn of secret meetings, political agendas, manipulation of the masses, and very “un-Christ-like” power-plays of this sect that wishes to control and conform the entirety of America into their own image.

There’s a story of how Mel was hired to ghost-write a book for Pat Roberston, and Pat wouldn’t even take the time to read it. Yet, there he was at a book signing, autographing a book with his name on it, not knowing what was actually in it.

There’s also information about how President Bush actually sought approval from James Dobson on who to appoint to office!!

Part of the book descriptions have this to say:

—-
“The Reverend Mel White, a deeply religious man who sees fundamentalism as “evangelical Christian orthodoxy gone cultic,” believes that it is not a stretch to say that the true goal of today’s fundamentalists is to break down the wall that separates church and state, superimpose their “moral values” on the U.S. Constitution, replace democracy with theocratic rule, and ultimately create a new “Christian America” in their image. White’s new book, Holy Terror, is a wake-up call to all of us to take heed.

White is singularly qualified to write this exposé of the Christian Right because he himself was a true believer who served the evangelical movement as pastor, professor, filmmaker, television producer, author, and ghostwriter. As he writes, “These are not just Neocons dressed in religious drag. These men see themselves as gurus called by God to rescue America from unrighteousness. They believe this is a Christian nation that must be returned forcibly to its Christian roots.”
—-

The section “Idolatry:  The Religion Of Fundamentalism”  should be a “must-read” for Christians everywhere.
It covers “God As Idol” (some GREAT insights here), “The Bible As Idol” (which I’ve covered in a number of other posts), “The Family As Idol” (focus on the Dobson), and “The Nation As Idol” (also see “The Myth of a Christian Nation).

Later we look at “Fascism: The Politics Of Fundamentalism.”  We’re shown the frightening similarities between what’s going on in America, and the way religion and the Bible were used by Hitler to deceive the masses and rally the troops. The “14 identifying characteristics of fascism” are disturbingly similar to fundamentalist Christianity!

Then, in Part Four of the book, we discuss ways to resist fundamentalism. Chapter’s 8 and 9 analyze how to reclaim our progressive political and moral values.
In the section on moral values, we look at the Old Testament prophets and the teachings of Jesus. There’s lots of scripture in this section. We see again how fundamentalists, like the Pharisees, major on the minors, while ignoring or dismissing the real meat of the Bible and of Jesus’ teachings.
While fundamentalists want to “reclaim America,” what’s really needed is to reclaim Christianity from the fundamentalists.

Finally, there’s “Discovering Soul Force.” We look at the examples of Martin Luther King Jr., and Ghandi as we discover the power of non-violent resistance (also known as “Christian Love”) which Jesus taught and lived. It can be, or rather is, very hard to not hate the haters. I see a lot of hater hating these days. It is understandable. But this portion of Mel’s book really helped me remember that love conquers hate. We also see that loving one’s enemies doesn’t mean rolling over and playing dead. It’s not violence or passivity. It is a third way.
[In relationship to that, check out the last paragraph of this previous post: Click HERE. ]

As a gay Christian, Mr. White does focus on the dangers of the religious right in their war against homosexuals, BUT these dangers are a threat to us ALL! History has has shown us the horrific results of the marriage between church and state.
The torture.
The intimidation.
The outright murder.
All in the name of God. That is the direction to which many fundamentalists are trying to take us.
As the famous phrase goes, “The Christian right is often neither.”

The original version of this book came out (pun intended) in 2006, and we’ve seen this disease of religious control and manipulation spread even more since the book was written. Some of our current politicians think that their interpretation of the Bible should be the literal rule of the land for all of our blessedly diverse culture.

I echo the previous statement that this book sounds the alarm, and should be a wake-up call for those who value all American’s rights.

– df

[“Holy Terror is the paperback version of the previously released hard-cover “Religion Gone Bad.”  This book does have some new material, and is a great book to buy multiple copies of, and pass on to others!]

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

Check out the organization SOULFORCE. Click HERE.

—-

Read another review at Canyonwalker Connections. Click HERE.

“I strongly encourage Christians who are befuddled as to why we seem to have lost the message of the Gospel and have witnessed the Good News twisted into a Declaration of War to read ‘Holy Terror.’”
– Kathy Baldock

“Many anti-gay Christians I know are good people. But too often good people do bad things. I think in the end we are in a fast-moving world. Just read Mel White’s “Holy Terror” and you’ll get a quick, full understanding what is really going on under the sugar coated veneers of the Tony Perkins/Maggie Gallagher’s smiles.”
– Mitchell Gold

“I think this may be one of the most important books I have ever read.”
– Sharon

“A demanding and documented account of what happens when fanatical religion and fascistic politics merge an provide religion that simply can only be called terrorism.”
– Ric

—-


QUOTES FROM “HOLY TERROR”:

– The Bible is not a book of magic. It’s a book of mystery. You can’t just quote verses that support your prejudices or guarantee your health, wealth, and happiness and demand that God “follow through” as promised. God is not limited to the words of Scripture. God is still speaking.

– Fundamentalist Christians are my sisters and brothers, my family and friends, my oldest colleagues and coworkers. But I fear their love for the nation has become an obsession to reshape it in their own image.

– Like the people of Israel who created a golden calf to represent God while Moses was away, fundamentalist Christians have built their own idols to represent God until Jesus returns.
The religion of fundamentalism is idolatry.
Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Fundamentalist Christianity is not just a threat to lesbians and gays, but to all Americans who cherish democracy and the rights and protections guaranteed us by the U.S. constitution.

– When Sally Williams asked her son Matthew why he killed “the two homos,” his answer was recorded by prison officials: “I had to obey God’s law rather than man’s law. I didn’t want to do this. I have followed a higher law. [I was] cleansing a sick society. I just plan to defend myself from the Scriptures.”

– “Fundamentalists are not happy when facts challenge their understanding. For biblical literalists, there is always an enemy to be defeated in mortal combat.” – John Shelby Spong [Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalists]

– Jerry Falwell turned gay bashing into a very successful art form. [He is] the first fundamentalist to exploit the fear and loathing of homosexuals to raise hundreds of millions of dollars and add millions of new donors to his mailing list.

– It’s beginning to feel like there is no room in America for anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian.
Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Although He is regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in American politics.” – Senator George Mitchell

– Gary Nixon and I have had a loving, committed, faithful relationship for twenty-five years (now over 30) yet we are denied more than a thousand rights and protections that go automatically with marriage.

– It would be catastrophic if one day these fundamentalists Christians gain enough political power to enforce their literal understanding of Mosaic Law.

– The Roman Catholic Church is without doubt the original source of suffering for gay and lesbian people.

– Because of their excessive commitment to a literal Bible, fundamentalist Christians have fallen into the trap of biblioltry.
Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Doing justice, loving mercy, seeking truth…these are the issues [the Bible] is clear on.

– There were families made up of Jewish soldiers and female prisoners of war; female rape victims forced by law to marry their attackers; and male slaves assigned to female slaves by their master. Jesus condemned divorce but did not condemn any of the family types common to his day.

– I am convinced that Christian fundamentalism is a far greater threat to this country than Muslim terrorists could ever be.

– “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
[Article 11. Treaty of Tripoli. Signed into law by President John Adams. 1797.]

– The words “God is love” conclude a biblical warning, not a warm and fuzzy slogan. “He who doesn’t love [his neighbor] doesn’t love God, for God is love.”
Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– My commitment to the Bible [is my] source of progressive values.

– Although I claim to be a Christian, I live at a moment in time when the Christian faith is being defined by fundamentalists who have dishonored Christ and are in the process of destroying His church. I refuse to wear the “Christian” label without redefining it.

– Without faith in God, man can have faith neither in himself nor in others. The finite cannot be understood unless we know it is rooted in the Infinite. – Gandhi

– When you stand with the outcasts, you stand with Jesus, and when you despise the outcast, you despise Jesus, as well. Becoming an activist is simply a matter of putting love into action.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

Check out the organization SOULFORCE. Click HERE.

And be sure to check out Al Franken’s book,
“Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.” Click HERE.

 

The Year Of Living Biblically June 8, 2012



I have a friend who, concerning the word “biblical,” has stated “Oh my gosh, I hate that word!”
She’s a very astute young woman.
It’s a word that’s tossed about, misused, and frankly has come to mean little more than saying “God is on my side.  You loose.”
If, however, the word has ever been used correctly, A. J. Jacobs has done so in his book “The Year Of Living Biblically.  One man’s humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible.”

Here’s a blurb from Mr. Jacob’s website:

“The Year of Living Biblically answers the question: What if a modern-day American followed every single rule in the Bible as literally as possible. Not just the famous rules – the Ten Commandments and Love Thy Neighbor (though certainly those). But the hundreds of oft-ignored ones: don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Grow your beard. Stone adulterers. A.J. Jacobs’ experiment is surprising, informative, timely and funny. It is both irreverent and reverent. It seeks to discover what’s good in the Bible and what is maybe not so relevant to 21st century life. And it will make you see the Good Book with new eyes.
Thou shalt not put it down.”

This book was recommended to me.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have read it.
Had I not, I would have missed out on an entertaining, fun, poignant, and quite strange journey.

Officially, Mr. Jacobs is Jewish.  He is, though, in his own words:
“Jewish like the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant.  Which is to say, not very.”

Having never been a very religious man, A.J. wanted to explore religion and the Bible for himself.
There are many things he discovered that were not surprising.
For example, the fact that no one, absolutely no one, follows all of the Bible literally.
Everyone “picks and chooses.”
He finds, as expected, that, passage to passage, there are many contradictions within the pages of scripture.
He also marvels at how “these ethically advanced rules and these bizarre decrees  [can] be found in the same book.”
“It’s not like the Bible has a section called ‘And Now for some Crazy Laws.'”

There were also some results the author did not expect.

He began to enjoy prayer:
“Prayer can be a sacred ritual. There is something transcendent, beyond the everyday.”

He became a more thankful person:
“I’m actually muttering to myself, ‘Thank you. . .thank you. . . thank you.’ It’s an odd way to live. But also kind of great and powerful. I’ve never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.”

And he experienced a new-found power in forgiveness:
“There’s a beauty to forgiveness, especially forgiveness that goes beyond rationality. Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great & powerful one.”

A.J. spends his biblical year going through the Bible front to back.  Thus, he doesn’t get to “New Testament living” until the last 3rd or last quarter of the book (month 9 in his year).  When he makes the transition he faces a question many still find confusing.  “Should I continue to follow all the rules of the Hebrew Bible?”
Unfortunately, he didn’t ask me. 😉

In this portion, he looks at many brands of Christianity (There are reportedly almost forty-THOUSAND  Christian denominations), including “The Pat Robertson-Jerry Falwell- style,” of conservative fundamentalists, and the “Red Letter Christians” who focus on social justice, poverty, and the environment.  Both camps use the Bible, “but they come out with radically different agendas.”

Through the old and the new, A.J. Jacobs’ year-long adventure is anything but dull.  He lets his beard grow (which his wife is not terribly fond of), he wears all white. He visits and consults all manner of bible-based religious groups from the Jewish cultures to the Amish to the Catholic and many many others.
One of the best parts is when he actually “stones” an adulterer.

This is a fun and very different type of memoir.
Where ever you are in your journey of life, I think you’ll find great pleasure in letting Mr. Jacobs share his journey with you.

– df

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

————–

Some Quotes:

– More and more, I feel it’s important to look at the Bible with an open heart.

– I’ve rarely said the word “Lord,” unless it’s followed by “of the Rings.”

– The problem with a lot of religion…is that people have interpreted the Gospel so much, we’ve started to believe the interpretations instead of what Jesus said.

– Your behavior shapes your beliefs. If you act like a good person, you eventually become a better person. I wasn’t allowed to gossip, so eventually I started to have fewer petty thoughts to gossip about. I had to help the less fortunate, so I started to become less self-absorbed. I am not Gandhi or Angelina Jolie, but I made some progress.

– Falwell’s version of Christianity bears practically no relation to Jesus’s message.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– The whole bible is the working out of the relationship between God and man. God is not a dictator barking out orders and demanding silent obedience. Were it so, there would be no relationship at all. No real relationship goes just one way. There are always two active parties. We must have reverence and awe for God, and honor for the chain of tradition. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use new information to help us read the holy texts in new ways.

– Polygamy was, if not the norm, completely accepted. The Bible doesn’t forbid polygamy.

– It comes back to the old question: How can the Bible be so wise in some places and so barbaric in others? And why should we put any faith in a book that includes such brutality?
[This is where, due to an unhealthy view of scripture, many Christians say something stupid like “It’s all about balance.”  Sorry.  Wrong answer.  Some things just can’t be balanced.]

– My reading list grows exponentially. Every time I read a book, it’ll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It’s like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– The flood is such a tragic story — the drowning of millions of people and animals — and how strange it is that it’s always made into cute kids’ toys.

– Dr. Ralph Blair is a hardcore Christian evangelical. Ralph Blair is gay. And out-of-the-closet gay.

– Who are we to say that the Bible contained all the wisdom? You can commit idolatry on the Bible itself.

– Ancient Israelites didn’t have the clearly formed concept of immortality of the soul, as we do now.

– There is no scandal in supposing that Jesus married and had children. It is very doubtful historically, but not troubling theologically.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– There are thousands of fundamentalists who want to set up a biblical government. They are the American Taliban.

– Never blame a text from the Bible for your behavior. It’s irresponsible.

– The idea that we can work with God to evolve the Bible’s meaning — it’s a thrilling idea.

– I need something specific…Beauty is a general thing. It’s abstract. I need to see a rose. When I see that Jesus embraced lepers, that’s a reason for me to embrace those with AIDS. If He embraced Samaritans, that’s a reason for me to fight racism.

– The year showed me beyond a doubt that everyone practices cafeteria religion. It’s not just the moderates. Fundamentalists do it to. But the more important lesson was this: There’s nothing wrong with choosing. Cafeterias aren’t bad per se. The key is choosing the right dishes.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.




 

Religion Gone Bad February 16, 2012


“Becoming an activist is simply a matter of putting love into action.”

Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers Of The Christian Right
– Mel White
———–

My WordPress stats tell me this is my 200th blog post.
I’m glad it’s dedicated to reviewing a book of this much importance.

While this book seems a bit dated in spots, it remains essential.

[This book has been re-released in paperback with new material. The new version is called “Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality.”
Check out the full review: Click HERE.

 

Crazy For God September 22, 2011

“The only answer to ‘Who are you?’ is ‘When?'”
– Frank Schaeffer

“Crazy For God

[How I grew up as one of the  elect,
helped found the religious right,
and lived to take all (or almost all) of it back]”
– Frank Schaeffer

I’ve seen some reviews refer to this book as an autobiography, even though the author states it is not.  This is a memoir.  And, Oh My, what a memoir!  It’s also a “foreign period piece” of sorts, as well as a chronology of the very birth of the religious right.

The book is written in four major sections: Childhood, Education, Turmoil, and Peace.  The largest of these sections is the first one.   This is where the “period piece” I spoke of comes into play.  Frank was raised in Switzerland in the 50’s and 60’s.  A very different time in a very different place.  This is where L’Abri, the ministry of his famous father Francis Schaeffer and mother Edith, was located.  His writings, though, go even farther back as he describes the upbringing of his parents.

His parents!  He doesn’t really speak of them in an intentionally demeaning way.  He’s just brutally honest.  He’s just as brutally honest about himself.
His mother comes off as loving, but incredibly, religiously self-righteous.  There seems to be no one on earth that’s quite as “Christian” as she is.  She has a very strange love/hate relationship with all things “secular.”  She “always had her own agenda.  She was interested in how we fit into that, not in us (her children).”
His father seems to live in a constant moral, mental and emotional dichotomy.  He is most at peace, and most happy when not involved in his “calling.” He’s also given to fits of rage, and occasional spousal abuse. He’s “locked” into a life for God, while missing much of the joy of life with God.
“Left to himself, Dad never talked about theology or God, let alone turned some conversation into a pious lesson the way Mom did. Reality seemed enough for Dad.”

As religious as the Schaeffer’s were, they fancied themselves rather cosmopolitan at the same time.  The traditional Christians of America at that time would have thought them quite liberal.

Frank is supposedly home-schooled during his early youth, but the truth is he’s not so much schooled as he is simply ignored.
He dwells in an awareness of the hypocrisy of his parents lives.   They don’t, I think, really mean to be hypocrites.  They just have this compartmentalization that I believe is inherent with religious legalism.

So we learn a lot about young Frank’s upbringing.  He of course rebels, wanting nothing to do with the “ministry.”  At age 10 He starts “real” school.
Away from home, he learns “strange” new ideas.  Like, “The thought that you could be a normal person and still believe…[that you could] let God do the worrying about how sincere other people were.”  Frank “began wondering if the ideas I’d grown up with were really the only good ideas to live by.”
There are so many good stories in this section, but moving on…

Eventually, Frank joins his parents in “God’s work.”  It was Frank who pushed his father into getting into bed with the quasi-christian right-wing political types.  They used Roe v. Wade as a platform, and used that platform as a spring-board to create the whole “Take America Back For God” nonsense.  The book makes it pretty clear that, although the Schaeffers were sincere in their beliefs, their new associates were more concerned with votes than with true morality.
Get people stirred up, tell them you and your party are their only hope, and send them to the voting booth.

They became associated with the self-appointed “Christian leaders” like Jerry Falwell (unreconstructed bigot reactionary), Dr. Dobson (power-crazed political manipulator), and Pat Robertson (lunatic).
They intentionally “created” an enemy of the secular humanists and the Democrats.
Both father and son began to clearly see “that the evangelical world was more or less being led by lunatics, psychopaths, and extremists,” but they kept their mouths shut.
They sold out.
They needed that “next pay check.”
“It paid handsomely to babble loudly about Christ and saving America.”
Here’s a clear, history-repeated warning:  When your paycheck is tied to your “preaching,” seduction and hypocrisy can be damn near impossible to avoid.

We also look into the life of Frank the husband, Frank the father, Frank the movie producer (“Baby On Board”) and Frank the down-on-his-luck, broke thief!
He’s actually going to the grocery and stuffing pork chops down his pants.
“I’d remember that if it came down to it, I’d rather be arrested for shoplifting than ever be an evangelical leader again.  There was a certain basic and decent honesty about stealing pork chops that selling God had lacked.”

Finally, his novel “Portofino” hits the stands, and things start to take a turn for the better.  He even makes restitution for the pork chops.

Toward the end, he talks again of his mother.  I’ll let you read the details, but it almost brought tears to my eyes.
Mr. Schaeffer not only takes on the religious right, but takes to task those on the left a few times as well.
And, Frank uses one of his brothers-in-law (John) as a prime example of true faith, love and integrity.

This book has many stories, but the one that hit me the most is the story of how religion can rob people of their entire life.  It turns good people into a distortion of their inner beings in order to “serve God,”  while the true person God created gets trampled under foot.

I think “Crazy For God” falls under the category of “stranger than fiction.”  I’m glad Frank has invited us to see inside his soul, and somewhat share his journey.

– df

Buy The Book.  Click HERE.

( Also read the excerpt “Prayer.” )

——————

From Amazon:

By the time he was nineteen, Frank Schaeffer’s parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, had achieved global fame as bestselling evangelical authors and speakers, and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. He would go on to speak before thousands in arenas around America, publish his own evangelical bestseller, and work with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson. But all the while Schaeffer felt increasingly alienated, precipitating a crisis of faith that would ultimately lead to his departure —even if it meant losing everything.

With honesty, empathy, and humor, Schaeffer delivers “a brave and important book” (Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog)—both a fascinating insider’s look at the American evangelical movement and a deeply affecting personal odyssey of faith.

Buy The Book.  Click HERE.

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Some Quotes:

You can lose your faith and still pretend, because there are bills to be paid, because you are booked up for a year, because this is what you do.

Fundamentalists never can just disagree.  The person they fall out with is not only on the wrong side of an issue; they are on the wrong side of God.

People’s eternal destinies hinged on a word or tiny event, maybe on no more than an unfriendly look.  Even an improperly served high tea on Sunday afternoon could send someone to hell.

The new religious right was all about religiously motivated “morality,” which it used for nakedly political purposes.

The evangelical homeschool movement was becoming profoundly anti-American.

Buy The Book.  Click HERE.

Single issue politics deforms the process and derails common sense.

By the 1970’s the evangelicals had come up with an alternate “gated” America.  It wasn’t about being something but about not being secular.  What it was for, no one knew.

If [Americans] are asked to make a choice between freedom and security they’ll choose security.  It will be the new fascism. (Francis Schaeffer, circa 1972!)

Bush Jr., the Bible-believing, born-again president, delivered up his Iraqi fellow Christians to be destroyed.  A “faith-based” evangelical American president stupidly unleashed a civil war.

Buy The Book.  Click HERE.

If you push the so-called Sola Scriptura Calvinist approach and the “inerrancy” ideas to their absurd limit, all real study of the Bible stops… Scholarship can only be meaningful when you are allowed to ask real questions and let the chips fall where they may.

In John Calvin’s Reformation Geneva, women pregnant out of wedlock were to be drowned along with their unborn babies, and of course homosexuals were to be killed and heretics burned at the stake.  [Yeah, I really want a “Christian” America!]

Evangelicalism is not so much a religion as a series of fast-moving personality cults.

According to Jesus, community is spirituality: “Love one another.”

Buy The Book.  Click HERE.

 

Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them April 3, 2010

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“Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:
A Fair and Balanced Look At The Right”
by Al Franken

The humor in this book really was laugh-out-loud funny.  The truth in this book was turn-my-stomach sickening.  There were even a few parts that were tears-in-my-eyes sad.

This book came out in 2003.  I really wish I would have read it then.  I still may not have read it now, if not for the recommendation of a family member.  The thing is, in 2003, I may not yet have been at a place in my journey where I was ready for this.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Long before I read this book, I began to realize that most on the “left” hold their beliefs, not due to a lack of morality, as right-wing evangelical leaders would have us believe, but actually because of their morality.  Many, because of their Christian faith.  That was pointed out by one of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey.  He mentioned that as he was relating his experiences with President and Hillary Clinton.  It was truly one of those scales-falling-from-my-eyes moments.  Reading “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” was another.

The language contained in the pages of Mr. Franken’s book can be very raw, but far more vulgar than any language could ever be, are the actions, lies, and abominations committed by those exposed in this book.
Some of the people discussed are, well, just plain stupid.  But much worse, most are not.  They are, instead, calculating and intentional as they lie, manipulate, distort, and smear.

This book is extremely well researched, and has detailed footnotes, endnotes, and internet links, so you can verify all the facts for yourself.  Al Franken commissioned 14 Harvard students to do in-depth research so he could “do something my targets seem incapable of doing – get my facts straight.”

He exposes
Ann Coulter “whose lies are painstakingly crafted to serve her radical political agenda.”
Bill O’Reilly who “seems to lie for two reasons.  One, to polish his own apple”, and two, “to attack anyone who’s critical of him.”
Of George W. Bush: “The media thought he was kind of stupid.  He isn’t.  He’s just shamelessly dishonest.”
And there’s Hannity and Colmes, Bernie Goldberg, and many more lying liars.

The first 13 chapters really held me.  Somewhere after that, it went a little dry for me.  That only lasted for a couple or so chapters, and then it was back on track.

Chapter 24 is a great exposé on the “Wall Street Journal” and it’s hack journalism.

Chapter 25 was truly sad.  It chronicles how the right-wing media hijacked the pain and anguish of a family who lost a loved one.  They not only used the event as a political tool, they then blamed those suffering loss of the very political hijacking they themselves were doing.  Truly, some of the most despicable human behavior I have ever read about.

OK.  Even a great book may not be perfect.  Chapter 29 was, for me at least, a waste of time.  It is a fictional story called “Operation Chickenhawk.”  It does, in many places, make fun of the disgustingly vulgar piece of fiction that Bill O’Reilly wrote, “Those Who Trespass: A Novel of Murder and Television.”
Still, I found it unnecessary and distracting.   Later in the book there’s another bit of fiction in the form of a one-act play.  It didn’t do much for me, but it was far better than “Operation Chickenhawk.”  Still, there are well over 40 other chapters that you shouldn’t miss.

In the chapter called “I’m A Bad Liar,”  Al and friend set out to perpetrate an elaborate ruse on Bob Jones University.  It heads full force in the direction you would expect from a book like this, but then, it takes a surprising turn; one that gave me even more respect for Mr. Franken.

That’s followed by a chapter about Jerry Falwell.
OK, I know.  Falwell is funny enough without any help.  Well, maybe more scary than funny.

Chapter 33 discussed Abstinence education.  There are some very interesting statistics that every parent should read.

There’s a chapter called “The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus.”  The entire chapter is a “comic strip” of sorts.  It contrasts some of the quasi-Christian right-wing teachings with the actual gospel of Christ.  This chapter can actually be read, or rather watched online.  You can see this narrated version on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK7gI5lMB7M

“Our air, water, and wildlife are under attack.”
Ok.  What did you first think when you read that line?  Ranting of  some left-wing wacko extremist?  Chapter 39 will do wonders to change your mind.  Many of us know we’re killing ourselves and our planet, but here are real-world examples of how bad it really is, and which political party is doing all it can to make sure no one stops it.

There is information in this book about the war against terrorism.  Stories about 9/11.  Stories about advance information our government willfully ignored that could possibly have prevented that tragedy.  There’s documentation of, again, willful deception and lies to get the American people onboard for a war based largely on information about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

Should you read this book?
* If you believe for one second that right-wing politicians are more moral than the left, you need to read this book.
* If you don’t realize that the right has used your Christianity and your faith as a tool to manipulate and control you, you need to read this book.
* If you’re one of those who, despite what you say, believe deep down that “Republican” and “Christian” are the same thing,
you need to read this book.
* If you are even close to being able to handle the truth, you need to read this book.

There is an updated version in paperback, which has “More Lies and New Lying Liars!”  If you get a chance, get that copy.  If it’s not available, the original is still a good choice.  If you consider yourself a Christian, and your vote (if you vote) is based on moral choices of the candidates, you, especially, should read this book.  Ignorance may be the reason we do some things in our lives.  I know it’s been my reason many times.  But, in the end, ignorance really isn’t an excuse.

There are some major, very serious, issues discussed in these pages.  So serious, that without the humor, would be much harder to take.  While this book is indeed serious, it’s also very, very funny.

Mr. Franken believes “We have to fight back.  But we can’t fight like they do.  They fight with lies.  We can’t do that.  We have to fight them with the truth.”

This book may open your eyes to what some of that truth really is.

— df

Buy the book at: https://www.amazon.com/Lies-Lying-Liars-Balanced-Right/dp/0452285216/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498649831&sr=8-1&keywords=lies+and+the+lying+liars+who+tell+them+by+al+franken

 

 

 
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