Monday, August 24, 2009

Frank Schaeffer's Memoir: Insight--The Soul Family

I've gleaned yet another insight from Frank Schaeffer's memoir, Crazy For God. This insight came to me while thinking about how Os Guinness sees Frank as Frank's younger arrogant self rather than as the kinder man Frank has now become by opening himself to grace.

This led me to consider how Frank has reached certain points of growth that his father, Francis Schaeffer, did not attain, although his father was striving in those directions and pointed the way. For example, I see this in the area of living one's passion. Francis Schaeffer did not allow his passion for art and for popular culture full expression in his life, but Frank could see how his father lit up when discussing these subjects. Frank himself has reached a place where he does give his own passion for writing an important place in his life, and he has also returned to his love of painting. In other words, Frank Schaeffer is following his passions more fully than his father did. Frank has been able to do this in ways that eluded his father, though I believe that his father pointed the way. We mlight even say that Francis Schaeffer carried this piece of soul work to a certain level and that his son, Frank, has carried it further.

I also see that Francis Schaeffer was at times uncomfortable with some of his religious beliefs. For example, Francis Schaeffer's stated beliefs told him that he had to prevent his son-in-law John Sandri from teaching at L'Abri because John's approach to the Bible didn't follow the L'Abri "party line." Yet Francis Schaeffer's heart told him that John Sandri was a true example of deeply lived Christian faith. Francis Schaeffer felt that he had to obey his stated beliefs rather than his heart. Frank Schaeffer, on the other hand, has found an expression of Christian faith in the Greek Orthodox Church that supports what his heart tells him. The Greek Orthodox Church recognizes the place of doubt in a life of faith, feels comfortable with the Mystery of God, and uses a beautiful ancient liturgy that involves the five senses in worship. In this area, too, of finding an expression of Christianity that one's head and one's heart can support, Frank Schaeffer has gone further than his father was able to.

Considering these examples from the lives of Francis Schaeffer and Frank Schaeffer led me to an insight about the family soul. Perhaps we are part of a family soul. Our parents and earlier ancestors did soul work that they carried to a certain level. We can carry that soul work further.

I think, for example, of my mother, a woman of high creative energy who allowed her passion for life to be circumscribed by my controlling and limit-setting father. Perhaps I can carry my mother's soul work further by allowing my own passions freer expression.

I think it may also be possible to heal a family soul wound. My family has suffered from excessive anger and a compulsion to busyness. Perhaps I can begin to heal that soul wound by taking time for contemplative prayer, by slowing down and enjoying life, by savoring simple pleasures, and by living calmly from my center.

I see the possible healing of a soul wound over three generations in the Schaeffer family. Francis Schaeffer suffered througout his life with bouts of anger often directed at his wife, which he never seemed able to overcome. Frank Schaeffer describes episodes of his own anger and yelling, yet he seems to have grown into a kinder man over the years. Frank's son, also called Francis Schaeffer, seems to have healed this soul wound, being a person of great patience.

The idea of the family soul connects me with my parents and other family members who have died. Whatever soul work I do brings them joy in the spirit world and benefits not just me but my whole family and indeed all souls everywhere.

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