Patience With God

Patience With God

Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)

Book - 2009
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Frank Schaeffer has a problem with Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, and the rest of the New Atheists--the self-anointed "Brights." He also has a problem with the Rick Warrens and Tim LaHayes of the world. The problem is that he doesn't see much of a difference between the two camps. As Schaeffer puts it, they "often share the same fallacy: truth claims that reek of false certainties. I believe that there is an alternative that actually matches the way life is lived rather than how we usually talk about belief."

Sparing no one and nothing, including himself and his fiery evangelical past, and invoking subtleties too easily ignored by the pontificators, Schaeffer adds much-needed nuance to the conversation. "My writing has smoked out so many individuals who seem to be thinking about the same questions. I hope that this book will provide a meeting place for us, the scattered refugees of what I'll call The Church of Hopeful Uncertainty."

Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, 2009.
Edition: 1st Da Capo Press ed.
ISBN: 9780306818547
030681854X
Branch Call Number: 261.2100
Characteristics: xxi, 230 p. ; 24 cm.

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jmikesmith
Jun 19, 2016

I'd never heard of author Frank Schaeffer before reading this book. He grew up in a fundamentalist family of American missionaries living in Switzerland. He went into the family business as a young man, and was apparently well-known and successful as a TV evangelist and travelling preacher. The rampant materialism and internal contradictions of the movement led him to atheism, but an abiding faith that there must be some greater purpose and meaning to life brought him to the Orthodox church. He has directed a few movies, sold paintings, and written many fiction and non-fiction books.

This background appears to be important to understanding where Schaeffer is coming from in this book, which tries to steer a middle course between "New Atheists" like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel C. Dennett and Christian fundamentalists, particularly American evangelicals such as he used to be.

I found Schaeffer's writing style to be rather dense, with long sentences full of subordinate clauses that were not always adequately set off by appropriate punctuation. His main point seems to be that anyone claiming to know the truth about the world is wrong. Such people are more interested in winning arguments and giving you rules to live by than in actually letting you live your life. Schaeffer suggests that being a good and moral person is better than believing in the "right" truths, regardless of who is promoting those truths. Let love be your guide, he says, and you will find your purpose, whether within a faith tradition or without one. Essentially, I think Schaeffer is saying that treating others as you wish to be treated is a good way to live, although he takes a very roundabout way to get there.

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