Monday, March 17, 2008

franky schaeffer - fathers and sons

during the late 70's and early 80's my father was the chaplain of the main post chapel in heidelberg germany. at the time it was the premier post in germany for a chaplain. as such, my father was in charge of putting together the national prayer breakfast. (fascinating isn't it that that stuff slid under the ol' seperation of church and state?) so, my father decided that he wanted francis schaeffer to lead the thing. it ended up being a bit of a political/diplomatic crisis, but they got through that. in short, switzerland is neutral and have very strong rules regarding their airspace. dad flew an american military transport plane into switzerland to pick up francis, this was an obvious violation of their airspace and they were none to happy about it. fortunately nothing came of it, but it was still dicey there for a bit.
the perkins and the schaeffers developed something of a relationship. the schaeffers had a number of meals at our house in heidelberg, and when francis died in 1984 my father was a pall bearer at his funeral. because of that relationship, my parents often discussed francis' son frankie in none too endearing terms. he had a rather public break with his fathers' legacy, and converted to the greek orthodox church in 1990. they used words like traitor, apostate, punk. these things.
anyway, a few years ago i read frankie's novel portofino. it was a good read. i sympathize(d) a bit with frankie, not that my father was ever of the significance of francis schaeffer, but i do share something of an analogous childhood. the contest that is the relationship between father and son has been no less informative on my life as it seems to have been in frankie's life.
recently i had to write a paper on my life as a presbyterian, specifically a pca presbyterian. in concluding the paper i was to answer this question: describe your appreciation of your presbyterian identity. the best i could muster was simply that god, through his providence, has placed me in this context. i am committed to it for no other reason. that was it. as i sat in class on friday i listened to other students extol the virtues of being presbyterian. "i appreciate the emphasis on justification by faith", communion, church polity, the cycle of creation as articulated by creation-fall-redemption-restoration, etc. that's all fine and good, i just couldn't smile and say, "yes" to any of it. and it occurred to me that this was okay. i don't need to affirm any of that at this point in my life. but why? the fact is that the legacy of faith left to me by my parents has resulted in more destruction than construction. as such, i am rebuilding, from the ground up, what it means to be a believer in jesus. and consequently the question of denominational identity is just the last thing on my radar at the moment.
so, it was with a great amount of interest that i read frankie schaeffers blog post this morning on the dr. wright/sen. obama incident from last week. check it out here. it was interesting not simply because it is timely, and deals with something that is of interest to me, but more so because it brought to the forefront of my mind the crucial importance of the father-son relationship. there is nothing so profound as a relationship between a father and son. It shapes, in either positive fashion or negative, the future direction of that son. my father called me two weeks ago and asked me to write out a list of all the things that he has done in the past year and a half to damage our relationship. i have a feeling he really doesn't know what he is asking for. maybe i'll post that list here, before i send it to him.

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