Book Review: “Patience with God: Faith for Those who Don’t like Religion (or Atheism)” by Frank Schaeffer.

I should begin my review of Frank Schaeffer’s latest book, Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism)(Da Capo Press, $25.00, hardcover), with a disclaimer: I have an indirect financial interest in Mr. Schaeffer’s success as a writer. Frank Schaeffer wrote a beautifully-crafted, thoughtful, and gracious foreword for my forthcoming, yet-to-be-named book on American Christianity’s response to undocumented (or “illegal”) immigration. His name will appear next to mine on the cover of my book because my publisher, Westminster John Knox Press, hopes Frank Schaeffer’s fame will rub off on me in a way that is profitable for everyone involved.

I asked Frank Schaeffer to write the forward to my book because I admire his work. The wit displayed in Frank’s writing has made me laugh out loud in inconvenient places (I first read his novel Portofino in the close quarters of a transatlantic flight) and I have wept at the beauty of Frank’s non-fiction prose, in the silence that descends upon my house when everyone but me is asleep. Reading Patience With God confirmed what I suspected to be the truth: I asked the right guy to pen the foreword to my book. More than ever I want to be on Frank Schaeffer’s team. Continue reading

Book Review: “The Family” by Jeff Sharlet

This column was first published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on May 26, 2008.

Jeff Sharlet is the best journalist currently covering American religion. Among those who connect subject to predicate, there are few who do so with Sharlet’s grace, insight, or humor. His recently published book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper Collins, 2008, $25.95 cloth) was every bit as good as I expected it to be. Often, while reading The Family I found myself interrupting the conversations of those around me to read aloud Jeff’s well-crafted insights.

The subject of Sharlet’s book is “The Family,” also called “The Fellowship,” a self-identified “Christian Mafia” which, for seven decades, has operated in the shadows of American power, exerting great influence without accountability or oversight. They are evangelists and powerbrokers with a theocratic agenda, a lust for power, and a strange fondness for such creeps of history as Adolf Hitler, Mao Tsedung, and Genghis Khan. Continue reading