The Return Of Franky Schaeffer

Sham Pearls for Real Swine: Beyond the Cultural Dark Age—A Quest for Renaissance, by Franky Schaeffer (Wolgemuth and Hyatt, 291 pp.; $14.95, hardcover). Reviewed by Mark Galli, associate editor of LEADERSHIP Journal.

In the last 20 years there have been increasing calls for evangelicals to make their presence known in the arts, to present Christian values in this culture’s highest forms of expression. This book is the account of one evangelical’s unhappy venture into that arena.

Five years ago, documentary filmmaker and author Franky Schaeffer began devoting himself full time to feature-film directing and screen writing. Besides describing some of the not-uncommon struggles of a budding filmmaker (for example, meager lifestyle, constant hustling, repeated disappointments), Schaeffer, the evangelical artist, relates close and unpleasant encounters with two movements that stifle artists: fundamentalism and modern culture.

Fundamentalism and certain stripes of evangelicalism, says Schaeffer, tend to judge films (including his) by middle-class, rather than Christian, values: the more profanity, violence, and nudity they contain, the more “evil” the film. The filmmaking culture (a product of the larger culture) views films with an eye to their ideological content: the more they subscribe to the culture’s liberal values (such as radical feminism, secularism), the better the film.

Schaeffer, however, is scandalized by such “censorship.” So he vigorously outlines a theology of the arts that champions the freedom of artists and prods Christian artists to devote themselves not to producing Christian or social propaganda but to revealing truth about the life into which God places us—the good, the bad, and ...

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