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Sham Pearls For Real Swine (Franky Schaeffer)

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From Franky Schaeffer “Sham Pearls For Real Swine” ( Wolgemuth & Hyatt; Brentwood:1990) [Francis Schaeffer’s son]

Sir Winston Churchill coined the phrase “sham pearls for real swine” in refernce to the Britiush public school (private prep school to Americans) he attended. He said of the teaching there that it was a place “where sham pearls were fed to real swine”. Unfortunately, the same can be said of a great deal of teaching in the Christian church concerning the arts, media and our culture in general. p.1

Strange priorities rule the sensibilities of some Christians. Four-letter words used in film outrage the brethren, yet routine lies in church hardly cause any comment. Nudity on the stage, screen or canvas arouses fundamentalists to fury, yet a carnival atmosphere of debauched materialism reigns unchallenged in much of the church. pp1-2

What past leaders would meet our standards of piety? Luther? We would find him vulgar. Shakespeare? Filthy. Bach? Secular. Verdi? Catholic. Joan of Arc? Insane. Winston Churchill? A drunken warmonger. George Washington? A reactionary chauvinist. Jesus of Nazareth? Rude, sexist, offensive, and inscrutable. All of these would be too compolicated, too real, too human for the “nice”, the timid, the shallow, the ignorant – the church. p.2

As G K Chesterton remarked in the introduction to his book, St Thomas Aquinas, “I can only express the hope, and indeed the confidence, that those who regard me as the heretic will hardly blame me for expressing my own conviction.” p.3

When my father [Francis Schaeffer] expressed himself on the subject of narrow fundamentalism and evangelical attitudes toward art and culture, it was to bewail the lack of vision and harsh treatment of artists, not the “evils” of the “world”. p.6

My parents [Francis and Edith Schaeffer] protected me as best they could, not from art or hard questions, but from mediocrity. That is why we had so few contemnporary or fundamentalist books in the house. … That is why my parents never played contemporary Christian music of the gospel variety. … My father’s favourite contemporary music was Bob Dylan songs like “Route 66” and later the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s” which he listened to endlessly and discussed avidly and sang along with in his terrible off-key voice upon occasion. p.8

… we are now, therefore, paying the dreadful price for a twentieth century brand of evangelical-fundamentalist Christianity that has regarded culture, history, worship, art, and learning as “unspiritual”, thus unimportant. … The blind are leading the blind. Ignorant pietistic teachers are passing on a-cultural learning to the children of ignorant parents. p.10

What my wife and I have pursued for our children is good teaching and a love of learning and culture, not ideological or theological purity on the part of our children’s teachers. p.13

“Do not offend your brother” is a bible verse often misused to intimidate the artist … p.28

If the Bible were a film, it would be R-rated in some parts, X-rated in others. the Bible is notr middle class. The Bible is not “nice”. The Bible’s tone is closer to that of the late Lenny Bruce than to the hushed piety of some ministers. p.28-29

… our reaction to disturbing trends of secularization has led to defensive Christian ghettos in education, the church and the mind. p. 34

Looking back in history, it is easy to understand the distress Moliere must have felt when some of his “brothers” in the church plotted to have him burnt for blasphemy because he wrote a play, Le Tartuffe. Ironically, the play itself was intended as a corrective satire to help reform the institution of the church. pp35-36

Christ deeply offended the Phasrisees, and if we are to live as good artists and good Christians, we will offend their modern descendants as well. … Unlike the simplistic rules of fundamentalism, the true Christian life is a balancing high-wire act. p. 49

In our times, various ideologically dedicated groups increasingly use censorship, coercion, or propaganda to limit access to ideas, literature, and the arts that they consider threatening. p.74

Censoprship, the twin brother of propaganda, is the tool of despots, of idealogues, of ayatollahs, of fantics. p.96

Pascal wrote: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction” (Pensees, Sec XIV, no. 895). Fundamentalist mischief in the arts by pious men and women has been great. p.100

[Martin] Luther was unashamed of his own sexuality. We have his letters to a friend describing, in what would be seen by today’s timid Christians as unhealthy and ribald terms, the pleasures of his marriage bed, complete with allusions to the pleasure he took in penetrating his wife and other robust, earthly sexula references. p. 106

Those Christians whose opinions are informed by Pietism regard life as a moralistic quest for spiritual expreience. For Pietists, the results are unimportant if only the motivation is correct. It is the emotional experience that concerns them, not the mind or soul. Pietism is a process of constantly looking inward and searching for spiritual feelings. Pietism seeks to obey not only the Laws of God, but also a host of petty rules lifted up as “absolutes”. Content, truth and logic take second place to experience, fervor and rule keeping. In this regard, Pietism is in perfect tune with the times. pp117-118

To the extent that churches are pietistic, they will reject, or at least be uncomfortable with, art, scvience, not to mention real people! Art and science ask hard questions; real people are not all respectable. Art and science adfdress complex problems; genuine people behave in unrespectable ways that often raise perplexing questions. Pietists, like all tribalists, long for cultic simplicity and easy solutions: lists of dos and don’ts. … The original, true, odd, creative person in such a context is a nuisance regarded with suspicion. Pietism invents far more rules for itself than God ever mandated. Because freedom is sometimes frightening., the pietists make their circle of life smaller, not bigger, with every successive generation. Thus life becomes narrow, ugly, strange, and cultic and ends in rtejection of life just as the manicheans rejected the “flesh”. Such narrowness does not reflect well upon Christianity … cut oiff from the real wporld, even real people, pietistic churches have little or no influence in the lives of the people who are creative. pp.130-131

The first freedom is the freedom to be normal. The follower of the Truth need not be a guilt-ridden weirdo, part of some small, seperated band of desperate Christian flagellants seeking personal holiness and spirituality by abandoning life. p133

The follower of Truth is free to apply one standard to all things, to all reality: that is, to simply ask, “Is it true?” “Is it false?” “Is it good?” :”Is it bad?” “Does it work?” “Is it excellent?” “Is it mediocre?” … The follower of Truth need not be a strange, mystic oddity. He is a flesh-and-blood person – a real person who may curse when he hits his thumb while adding an extension to his kitchen, but does not blaspheme by saying “Praise the Lord,” unless he means it. pp.134-135

The follower of Truth is free to be sane. He can simply say, “I got a job as a farmhand because I needed the money.” He does not have to take God’s name in vain and say, “The Lord led me to become a farnmhand.” he can give gfood common sense adfvice to his friends; he need not indulge in well meant lies and presumptuously tell them that “the Lord laid thus and so on my heart to tell you.” The follower of Truth can begin a letter with “dear friend … How are you?” He needn’t pretend he is writing an epistle to the church at Corinth and oipoen a letter with “Greeting Brother! In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, can you send me your recipe for Tortellini al Pesto?” He understands that reality – the ordinary, the simple, the straightforward – IS God’s. He does not have to be a spiritual lunatic caught up in some permanent spasm of sneezing out religious phlegm. p.136

[Quoting Shakespeare]

Everyone that flatters thee

Is no friend in misery.

Words are easy, like the wind;

Faithful friends are hard to find:

Every man will be thy friend

Whilst thou hath wherewith to spend …

But if Fortune once do frown

Then farewell his great reknown,

They that fawn’d on him before

Use his company no more.

(The Passionate Pilgrim, v 21) p. 167

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