Frank Schaeffer has done something remarkable with his new book.
When you experience raw and uncompromising honesty it is a strange sensation. It is like when I used to be an oyster fisherman and would see the sun rising over a glass sea, leaving me breathless. Or then the next morning being tossed around on violent waves struggling to see ahead because of the wind and rain. Nature is an honest force that when in the midst of it leaves you in no uncertainty about what it is about and your place within it; honesty has a habit of doing that to us.
Throughout this book Frank, it seems to me, is being honest. And his honesty is refreshing because of the nature of our culture and the way media and advertisers portray life, love and relationships (and faith to that matter).
We are taken on a narrative journey of life within faith, love and loss where Frank describes his innermost thoughts, the complexity of relationships, the contradiction of faith and the desire to love and receive love.
In many ways this book is a piece of art more than it is words on a page. As I read it I saw pictures and scenes that were seeking to subvert the way we see the world. Good art challenges the way we see the world, subverts the perceived reality and paints a picture of honesty. Whilst we may not agree with all that the artist is seeking to portray, we can at least discover something that has been hidden from us that needs to be exposed.
As I read Frank's book I was aware of a piece of art unfolding before me. I may not understand or agree with every brush stroke and colour and why they are where they are, but as I stand back and view it I see a picture of honesty, an unveiling of things hidden because of such honesty, I see ways to perceive the Divine spark in each of us. As I read it I felt as though Frank continued to believe in this spark, believed Jesus might still be the One who could fan that spark into flame and that love, not doctrine, might just redeem all things.
Frank is holding before him the experiences and relationships of his life and grappling with how all these things relate to a life of belief and unbelief. What he says is raw towards all people whatever their belief system, and yet generous to those who seek a life beyond their narcissistic desires.
Some will find it offensive and heretical, and there will be those who particularly will struggle with his view of Scripture and God. There will be atheists who will read it and not get it either because of the way he seeks to be honest about his unbelief and belief. I didn't read it and agree with it all, but I did appreciate the force of honesty behind each brush stroke.
If you do read it be prepared! But if people can read this as a piece of art, stand back and look at the bigger picture beyond doctrine and belief systems, as an honest expression of life lived with all its pain, joy, mistakes, fears, doubts, faith and love, then you may possibly discover a book that will tap into your heart and soul in surprising ways.