The Tapestry Project

Bending Toward Eternity

1969CamaroSS "Except ye become as little children, except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, "ye cannot enter the kingdom of God." One must not only die daily, but every day we must be born again.”  (Dorothy L. Sayers)

There's not much in a birthday, I have often said.  After all, you're just one day older than the day before.  Any yet that's not necessarily true about my fiftieth birthday.

Since turning fifty, I've become aware of how often I refer to the past.  There are, after all, likely many more years behind me than in front of me, more stories to tell than new memories to make.  Part of growing older is remembering well and learning from those memories.  If I'm wise at all (and I have no comment on that), it is because of a discernment and prudence shaped by experience, that vast reservoir of past choices, both good and bad.  In hindsight, many of the results of the bad choices seem humorous, while they may have been devastating at the time.

For example, I learned early on that you don't anticipate when your traffic light will turn green by watching the yellow and then red light of cross-traffic.  I'm 16, you see, and I have a carload of teenage guys with me, and I'm stopped at a traffic light next to a similar carload of teenage girls.  (Can you imagine the conversation?)  I'm thinking I'll put rubber on the road when my light changes to green, goaded on by a backseat of professional stock car driver wannabes, and I do. . . only my light is not green.  Realizing this in the middle of the intersection, I slam on the brakes, put my steaming Camaro muscle car in reverse, and sheepishly back up next to the carload of teenage girls, now quaking with laughter.  Everyone in the backseat disappeared into the floorboards.  Even my car seemed to shrink beneath me, its embarassment palpable. 

That was a dark day in my short teenage life.  But I did learn something about friends, about the foolishness of trying to impress women, and, of course, about traffic lights.  Like I said, it seems funny now, a story I tell my kids for the moral lesson it offers as well as to allow them to believe, if for a moment, the incredible idea that once their father existed as a teenager.

Another thing about the past is that the more distance I put between the present me and the former me, the closer it seems, as if time is a malleable piece of tin foil that can be bent back upon itself, present touching past.  If I say I graduated from high school 33 years ago, it seems difficult to believe, and yet some of the memories of my senior year are crystal clear.  I easily summon up images, sounds, and smells of my school --- remembering the snapping- tapping sound of the flagpole rope in the wind outside the open window of my geometry class, the high-pitched voice of the fearsome-little-man-who-still-lived-with-his-mother teacher who ruled trigonometry class, and the embarrassment when my girlfriend at the end of a crowded hallway called to me at the other end of the hall and all eyes turned my way.  That me and this me are not so far apart, really.

And yet, while remembering is good to the extent it offers wisdom and thankfulness as we see God's providential ordering of our lives, today is where I live and tomorrow is where I'm going.  That present focus is evident when Jesus says that "sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matt. 6:34) or when Paul exhorts us to forget what lies behind and press on toward what lies ahead (Phil. 3:13-14).  Just as the past is not so far behind, eternity is with us even now.  As we bend forward we even touch it at times, sensing that something timeless has happened, something that is not just now but a part of a coming greater reality --- the real Real, if you will.  Everything that has happened to me is really a  part of everything that will happen, a part of who I am and will remain in eternity.  It's comforting to me to know that all that I am, all the memories that make up the person that I am, will stay with me, redeemed, somehow seen through new eyes, but that in eternity I'm still me --- the awkward high schooler and the (God willing) elderly curmudgeon.

I'm the kid who failed at impressing girls.  I get to carry that memory with me.  What was devastatingly embarrassing then is funny now.  What is funny now will be deeply meaningful in some larger context God may reveal in eternity.  I can't wait.

Finally, Objectivity: A Review of Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, by Colin Duriez

fs As an admirer of Francis Schaeffer, one of the saddest things I have witnessed during the last few years is the attempts by both his own son and by other detractors to impugn his integrity or, at least, to redefine him as something he was not.  Reading son Frank Schaeffer’s memoir, both father and mother are portrayed negatively, Francis as a reclusive, depressed, sometimes suicidal man and Edith as a perfectionist nut.  Well, perhaps the title says it all --- “Crazy for God.”  This book by biographer Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life, should set the record straight. 

Colin Duriez is sympathetic toward the Schaeffers and deeply appreciative of the time he studied under Francis, yet at the same time he is engaged in writing an authentic and carefully researched biography, of telling “true Truth” (to use Schaeffer’s nomenclature) about this extraordinary pastor, author, apologist, and founder of L’Abri, a worldwide ministry to seekers of truth.  While noting Frank Schaeffer’s very subjective memoir, and even quoting from it on occasion, he acknowledges that it added little to what he already knew (little, that is, that can be documented, that actually squares with reality).  What he takes issue with is Frank’s contention that his father kept up a “facade of conviction” in his latter years, something he says is not borne out by the evidence.  And that’s about all we hear of the strange memoir until near the end of the book where, in a footnote, Duriez cannot seem to restrain his feelings, noting that “he [Frank] is at times in error over fact or interpretation . . . in his unashamedly subjective and at times bizarre memoir.”  That’s a restrained critique by a historian. 

But enough of what the book is not.  What it is is the best biographical treatment of the man and his mission that has ever been written --- scholarly, without being pedantic or lifeless; sufficiently nuanced, without chasing every thread of the man’s life and work; sympathetic, and yet not avoiding the truth about the man’s weaknesses and struggles.  If you want to feel what animated Francis and Edith Schaeffer, to be caught up in the emotion of what they felt, read Edith’s Tapestry and L’Abri.  (Set aside sufficient time for their combined 906 pages, however!)  But this is the biography for most to read, as it is concise and yet comprehensive enough not to miss any important detail of their story.

In eight chapters and a total of 208 pages, Duriez covers Schaeffer from birth in 1912 until death in 1984 from cancer.  Along the way he speaks of his conversion, his years as a pastor, his involvement with the separatist movement and subsequent divergence from it, the L’Abri years, and the latter years of films and more political involvement.  What emerges is a portrait of a man who, like any Christian, matured in faith and whose understanding of scripture and culture developed.  And yet, looking at Francis Schaeffer’s whole life, there no sense that he was a wholly different person in 1975 than in 1955.  What comes across is his integrity and consistency.  And while Duriez acknowledges Schaeffer’s occasional anger or impatience, and even his depression, none of this does anything to damage his reputation.  They endear him to us, demonstrating his humanity and his honesty (as these failings and struggles were acknowledged by him to those who knew him).

For most who are familiar with the Schaeffers and who have, perhaps, read Tapestry and L’Abri, much of what is written here will be familiar and unsurprising.  What Duriez’s succinct book does, however, is provide a kind of condensation for those much longer stories.  I found myself drawn back into memories of some details contained in those books that were not included here, a very helpful effect.  But the book is more than a revised Tapestry.  It also contains excerpts of fresh interviews with the daughters of Francis and Edith Schaeffer: Priscilla, Susan, and Debbie.  Once again, there are no surprises, and yet it is helpful to hear their memories and to hear the respect they had for their parents.  Then are many other interviews as well, with L’Abri workers like Os Guinness and Dick and Marti Keyes, and perhaps going back farther than any other, with Hurvey and Dorothy Woodson (who actually had a L’Abri in Italy in the late 1950s).  Dorothy said that “When Mr. Schaeffer would talk to you, there was nothing else in the world that was going on.  He was totally focused on you and what you were talking about. . . .”  Great comment.  And that’s how it goes.  Real insights are given into the character of the man.  Much is there to emulate.

I recommend Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic LifeIf you think you already know him, this summary study of his character will sharpen your appreciation for him.  If you don’t know much about him, you’ll meet someone you want to know better.  And if all you’ve read is Frank Schaeffer’s Crazy for God, remedy ignorance: get the “true Truth” here.

A Person's a Person, No Matter How Small

labri The Scripture teaches that much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God.  There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people. . . . Those who think of themselves as little people in little places, if committed to Christ and living under His Lordship in the whole of life, may, by God's grace, change the flow of our generation.

(Francis Schaeffer, No Little People)

You can mount whatever critique you will of Francis and Edith Schaeffer --- whether dismantling his apologetics or noting their human foibles ---  but it is unlikely that you would find anyone who would argue that they were anything but compassionate and loving toward the least regarded of human beings, that they treated everyone the same.  Even one of their harshest and most strident critics, their son, Frank Schaeffer, is forced to note their sacrificial love for other people, their compassionate and generous spirit.  Frank tells of how his parents were late for a function with many dignitaries because Edith spent time in the Washington, D.C. hotel with the chambermaid, and this was not unusual for either of them, as whoever God placed in their path they regarded as the image of God to them.  For this reason (and others) they were habitually late, giving preference to divine over human appointments.

I never met Francis Schaeffer, as he died in 1984, but I did meet Edith at a L'Abri Conference in Rochester, Minnesota in December 1992.  I asked her to autograph a copy of L'Abri for me.  In characteristic style she took the whole front endflap of the book for an autograph, drawing a picture of the Alps, trees, birds, and flowers, garnishing it a florid signature.  More than that, she had regard for me, talked to me, made me feel as if no one else was there while she asked about my visit and my family at home.  I felt like a little person at this conference, not able to articulate anything about faith and life as well as the many others there, but after I met her I realized it didn't really matter.  I was no longer little.  There are no little people.

In meeting several L'Abri Workers and Members (those significantly involved with the Schaeffers, meaning they actually lived and worked in their home), it's apparent that this compassionate love and generous regard for others has been passed on by their teaching and example.  I have been fed, housed, and given generous amounts of priceless time by strangers who, when they speak of the Schaeffers, obviously owe them a debt of love, have been forever changed by their example.  I have never felt diminished by their presence, nor have they seemed anything but humble.  Note that I didn't say they were perfect.  To the contrary, their imperfections --- whether Francis's short-temper or moodiness or Edith's high-octane perfectionist tendency --- were on display and a matter of confession.  All the dirty laundry, such as it was, was known, much as if they had strung a clothesline across the lawn of Chalet le Meleze with it flapping in the wind.

There was no conspiracy to cover up the sins of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, just a conspiracy of love and regard, of learned compassion, to let "love cover a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8).  To the extent Frank Schaeffer speaks truthfully of his parents, he speaks of things those who knew them were apparently well aware of.  They were Christ-like sinners, their lives a practical demonstration of the love and mercy shown them by God.  They spent most of their lives in small churches or in a small village.  Their ministry had little money, no grand buildings, and little material possessions.  And most of the world (and likely more than half of the evangelical world) do not even know they existed.

The more I look at the Schaeffers' lives, the more I listen to others talk about them, and even the more I reflect on the cynicism of their own son, the more regard I have for them.  I see their Christ-like example wherever I go.  I heard it tonight, watching the recently released movie, "Horton Hears a Who," in Suess's "A person's a person, no matter how small."  I don't idolize them.  They were just two people living in a little place barely a village, called Huemoz, with lives steeped in the mundane tasks we all have --- the dishes, the meals, the plumbing, and more --- and their time in the limelight a flash in the pan for most.  But they were not little, not in a little place or doing little things.  And by God's grace neither am I.

Life On the Edge (Days 38 & 39): Light and Momentary Afflictions

Jacobs Yesterday my business partner Kevin and I spent about eleven straight hours with Sylvester Jacobs and his wife, Janet.  Janet is English; Sylvester, American.  Janet is white; Sylvester, black.  Both spent a year at L'Abri, the Christian community founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer in Huemoz, Switzerland, in the late 1960s.  We were interviewing the Jacobs for the autobiographical project we are working on, The Tapestry Project, where ultimately we seek to tell the story of the Schaeffers and L'Abri and the unique impact they have had on the world.

That impact is evident in the lives of this couple.  Sylvester went to L'Abri shortly after dropping out of Moody Bible College in the mid-1960s.  Already having suffered a great deal under the scourge of racism where he grew up in Boynton, Oklahoma, he was discouraged by what he found at Moody.  Along with a number of public pledges you had to make if you attended Moody (no dancing, smoking, etc.), he was required to sign a secret pledge that had to do with interaction with white students.  He was not supposed to speak to white women on campus, for example, and yet in evangelistic work they did in the black neighborhoods of South Chicago he was required to mentor these same women that, when they arrived back on campus, he could not interact with.  In trying to make sense of things --- in trying to determine if God was real --- he ended up at L'Abri, where, as he said, he was treated as a human being, as one with dignity, where he came to feel at home in his skin.

Sylvester went on to become a photographer in London and, then, to work with the worst of the worst kids in a school with Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and kids speaking 52 languages.  He saw fruit from that work, a result he says came out of the way he was treated at L'Abri --- with love, with dignity, as a human being made in the image of God.

For Sylvester, racism in his past, after his inter-racial marriage, even today is an affliction but one that is light and momentary.  It is, as the Apostle Paul says, a "light and momentary affliction. . . preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Cor. 4:17).  I'll write more about my interview with Sylvester and Janet and others on The Tapestry Blog when my trip is complete in a day or so.  But for now it struck me that his life, one God has given him much grace to view with a forgiving spirit, show that this treasure we have in jars of clay is from God, not man.  For that, we can rejoice.

The Christ-Haunted Life of Frank Schaeffer: A Review of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take It All (or Almost All) of It Back, by Frank Schaeffer

crazy Frank Schaeffer, only son of the late Francis and Edith Schaeffer, can't seem to shake God.  Early on in his recent memoir, Crazy for God, he puts it this way: "Every action, every thought, every moment I stumble into is judged by some inner voice.  Everything seems to have a moral component: eating --- because there are hungry people; sex --- don't even start.  What I write, don't write, who I talk to, don't talk to, and how I raised my children, their characters, accomplishments, failures, whether they 'love the Lord' or not, everything points to my relationship with God, real or imagined."  Raised in a home and larger social community where Christianity was taken seriously as having implications for all of life, he has spent most of his life alternatively embracing, questioning, and castigating that faith.  In Crazy for God he continues this tortured ambivalence, using memoir as his form rather than the veiled and semi-autobiographical fiction of his trilogy of Calvin Becker novels --- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

Frank Schaeffer grew up as the fourth child and only son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, founders of a ministry known as L'Abri.  Though both were Americans, they relocated to Switzerland in the late 1940s, shortly after WWII, with a two-fold charge from their mission board: to help strengthen the church from the tide of theological liberalism sweeping Europe, and to continue a ministry to children, called Children for Christ, a teaching ministry actually begun in the United States when Schaeffer was a pastor of Bible Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.  Tiring of the rancor and divisive arguments in his denomination, the Schaeffers left the mission in 1955 and founded L'Abri (French for "shelter").  They began opening their home to whoever came, offering discussions of art, social problems, and politics, all from the standpoint of biblical Christianity.  Eventually, both Francis and Edith published bestseller books which grew out of the L'Abri discussions.  Frank lived in the midst of this budding community of discussion, with upwards of  20 to 30 people staying in his home, Chalet le Melezes, at any one time, with regular late-night discussions--- a constant milieu of faith expressed in word and deed, 24/7, punctuated only by their annual family vacations to Italy.

Frank's memoir is roughly chronological, though there are flashbacks and more polemical asides (which are sometimes lengthy) along the way.  By Frank's account, his father had a "vicious temper," was sometimes verbally (and on occasion, physically) abusive toward his mother, and was chronically depressed and occasionally suicidal.  He describes his mother as a "high-powered nut" and control freak who portrayed his father as an "ogre" and herself as a "long-suffering heroine." He spends a significant amount of time detailing his own sexual exploits and the various forms his rebellion took, but along the way, he not only tells his story but that of his sisters, brothers-in-law, and parents as well, portraying his family as dysfunctional, L'Abri as riven by disputes (such as that surrounding the allegedly unorthodox teaching of his brother-in-law, John Sandri), and family reunions as usually ending in arguments.  There is an acerbic tone to much of what is said, manifesting itself in mockery ("When Mom met people, then told her children about her encounters, the story line was always the same: They were lost, and Mom saved them"),  anger (railing against a "Reformed Calvinist God" who struck down people for "not believing right"), and ridicule of evangelical personalities (describing Billy Graham as "just plain bizarre" and "a very weird man indeed," James Dobson as "the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met," and Jerry Falwell as an unreconstructed bigot reactionar[y]").  Neither the tone of the book nor the revelations are  shocking by today's low standards, when tell-all memoirs are ubiquitous.  However, these assertions will likely come as a surprise to many admirers of the Schaeffers and, presumably, to many of the workers at L'Abri as well, and have already evoked an understandable emotional response. 

To be fair to Frank, it must be noted that, while likely understated given his propensity to be critical, he does express admiration for his parents even while criticizing them, noting that "Mom was often on her hands and knees scrubbing the floors, rising at four in the morning to pray and then to type up the dictation she'd taken from Dad as his secretary of the day before, or spending hours talking to and counseling the guests and students."  He regarded his "parents' compassion [as] sincere and consistent," noting his mother's consistent treatment of everyone the same, from a hotel chambermaid to the President of the United States and the selfless way in which they opened their home.  Furthermore, Frank recognizes his own complicity in his difficulties --- his rebellious attitude, promiscuity, stealing, and poor treatment of his own wife and children.  In fact, perhaps he takes on too much blame, crediting himself with contributing significantly to the rise of the Religious Right and steering his father, in his later years, into their influence, something he now deeply regrets.  He's often funny as well.  For example, his description of life in the chalet occupied by Jane Stuart Smith (a former opera singer) and Betty Carlson (Chapter 8) is hilarious, true or not.  Thus, reading the memoir is a wild and passionate ride, because Frank has a tendency never to understate but often overstate his case, with gross generalizations and hyperbole, and contradictory images of his parents that either betray his own ambivalence or their complexity, or both.

Frank's memoir, though sure to incite controversy and an emotional response with the claims he makes, has to be evaluated as would any work of art or literature:  First, is it technically excellent, that is, does it meet the standards of the genre?  In other words, is it good writing?  Second, is it true, that is, does it substantially correspond to reality?  Memoirs have been written that are technically excellent and yet untrue, as in James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, a bestseller memoir that was ultimately determined to be a complete fabrication.  Even though a memoir is, by its nature, a story that unfolds from a person's subjective experience, incomplete and biased, we expect it to be rooted in an objective reality.  After we experience it as a well-told story, we want to know if it's true --- not a perfect recollection but, at least, not substantially inconsistent with what others would confirm as basically true.  Sadly, on neither count does Frank's memoir fully hold up.

In his introduction to Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, William Zinsser says that a good memoir requires two elements: integrity of intention, that is, a serious quest by an author to understand his life, and carpentry, that is, a successful imposition of a narrative structure (or framework) onto a jumble of half-remembered events.  Frank Schaeffer is at his best when he is writing about his memories of events he witnessed, that he experienced.  At least facially, he seems intent at understanding himself, and though his style is rambling, it has a narrative structure that is not difficult to follow.  So, in this respect, it functions as a good memoir, representative of the genre.  However, the difficulty with concluding that this is a good memoir is the inclusion of material critiquing the Religious Right, where he lapses into sermonizing and unfounded generalizations tangential to his story.  Is he playing to a target audience of disaffected evangelicals and secularists who would group Christians together with Islamic terrorists?  It's difficult to say, but the odd inclusion of this material detracts from the memoir and raises some doubt as to the integrity of his intention.  At the very least, this material should have been left for another book where he could maintain a more sustained (and perhaps supported) argument against the Christian right.  It's almost as if he added the material in order to make the book fit its extended subtitle, which itself may have been added to stoke the interest of critics of Christianity.  So, this is a memoir which simply veers off course, diminishing its credibility and impact.

The second standard of judgment, whether the memoir is true, is even more problematic.  The Prologue to the book contains a telling qualification when Frank states that his book is not "objective history," and "[w]hat I've written comes from a memory deformed by time, prejudice, flawed recall, and emotion."  Of course.  And yet why say this unless you lack the confidence to say "this is the objective truth, as best I can discern it?"  And why include letters from his sisters when it's his memoir, not theirs', unless he is seeking to buttress his own assertions about his parents, that is, to assert that what he says is in fact objective history?  And finally, if some of his more outrageous assertions are true (like his claim that his father physically abused his mother, or that his father talked about hanging himself), where are the other witnesses?  Hundreds of workers and guests passed through L'Abri over its many years when the Schaeffers were in residence, many living in the same home with Francis and Edith.  It was an open community, not a cult, and there was no fear of reprisal for breaking any implied code of silence.  That the Schaeffers were imperfect is well-documented in Edith's own biography of their life, entitled Tapestry, though given the reserve of her generation, family matters were not aired publicly.  Yet to my knowledge, no one has supported some of the more lurid allegations made by Frank.

In addition, the objective truthfulness of the memoir is called into question by the patently false conclusion Frank draws about the marriage of Gigi Graham, daughter of Billy Graham, to a man twenty years her elder.  Frank states that "Billy --- like some Middle Eastern potentate --- arranged for his seventeen-year-old daughter's marriage to the son of a particularly wealthy donor who lived up the road from us in the ski resort of Villars," and that "he'd plucked [her] out of her first semester at Wheaton College to marry a man almost twenty years older than her whom she had never met until Billy introduced them?"  That unsupported allegation is patently false, the daughter, Gigi Graham Tchividjian, having asserted in interviews that it was she who insisted on getting married, over her parents' objections!  Such careless accusations and demeaning language cast a shadow over the other assertions made by Frank, some unverifiable (like private conversations with his mother or father), others disputable.

In the end, however, it's impossible to come to any final conclusions about Frank's truthfulness.  The difficulty is evident in the contrast between two different recent statements about the book.  In a carefully-crafted statement in the August edition of the newsletter of the Francis Schaeffer Foundation, Udo Middleman notes that he (and presumably Debbie, Frank's sister) enjoyed Franks book, noting that "[a]s a memoir of an imperfect childhood, it has a personal perspective and will forever be incomplete" and is "very honest, touching, at times funny, and always passionate."  (Note that he didn't say it was true or that he agreed with it!)  On the other hand, Os Guinness, who lived with the Schaeffers for five years in the late 1960s, calls what Frank has written a "tissue of falseness, distortion, and unchecked allegations," and notes that "Francis Schaeffer had his flaws, and he certainly had his enemies. But no one has done more damage to Schaeffer's reputation, and to the things for which he stood and fought, than his own son whom he adored."  Frank accentuates the imperfections of his family life, giving you an overall negative impression of the family and ministry, when in actuality, his perspective is an inverted one, quite in contrast to what most who knew the Schaeffers would say.

In the end, of course, this imperfect memoir will not dissuade anyone who knew and loved the Schaeffers from continuing in their admiration of them.  It may even serve as a helpful reminder of their humanity, if we even need it, and further endear them to us.  I know it only strengthened my admiration for them.  Frank himself, even if bitter at times, cannot help but love and admire his parents, and he cannot escape their impact on him.  In the end, the real story is more about Frank Schaeffer's lifelong struggle with God than about his parents and L'Abri.  That story is not yet over.

The Tapestry Project: An Update

Chapel As some of you know, my partner Kevin and I have been at work on an audio documentary of Francis and Edith Schaeffer and the ministry of L'Abri Fellowship, similar to what we have done on Ruth Bell Graham, a project released by Thomas Nelson and one you can buy here.  The project has its own blog, so I will not spend time updating you here.  I merely wanted to alert you that I have posted an update on the project blog here.  Please check it out if you are interested.

The Tapestry Project: Beginnings

Tapestry_1Today I headed out of town to meet my partner, Kevin for a planning session for The Tapestry Project, something we have been dreaming about for quite some time.  The project will tell the story of Francis and Edith Schaeffer and the ministry they founded called L'Abri. Adapted from the autobiographical booked called Tapestry: The Life and Times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, the production will tell their personal story, as well as that of the ministry of L'Abri, which they began in Switzerland in the 1950s and has since spread throughout the world.

I'm always surprised at the number of Christians who are unaware of L'Abri or the work of Francis Schaeffer.  Schaeffer was a masterful and gifted apologist who wrote many books critiquing modernism and painting the contours of a Christian worldview.  But more than this, their ministry was one of opening their home to anyone seeking truth, a ministry of hospitality.  Their home in Switzerland, which obviously expanded over the years, became a destination for many seeking or hurting college students and others, and their roundtable discussions, bible studies, and long walks and talks there impacted many who have carried their thought on into various disciplines, people such as Chuck Colson and Os Guinness, and other lesser known folks like me.  It's a compelling story of God's providence and one family's faithfulness to His calling.

Ruth In the last couple of years we produced an audio biography (3 CDs) of the life story of Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham.  I say we somewhat presumptuously -- Kevin's role was substantial, mine tangential.  But this time around, I hope for a more equal partnership.

The Graham project was a mixture of interviews, music, poetry readings (Ruth wrote quite good poetry), sounds, and more -- a dramatized listening experience narrated by the esteemed newscaster and friend of the Grahams, Walter Cronkite.  After packaging it with a booklet, we licensed the retail version of the project to W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishers.  You can purchase it online or in stores.

The advantage of the Graham project was that there were a number of interviews already in existence.  It was a matter of gathering materials, editing, scripting the narration, and finding the music and sounds.  In other words, a lot of work but not as much work as it could have been.  With the Tapestry Project, we have no pre-existing interviews.  What we have are books, tapes of talks and sermons, and access to family members and friends of L'Abri.  However, we do have Tapestry, Edith Schaeffer's long out of print autobiography, and L'Abri, her book telling the story of the founding of L'Abri.  Our plan is to stick close to the biography, as this is not a critical bio but one told sympathetically, from the Schaeffer's and Schaeffer's friends and family's viewpoint.

The project is daunting, much as I imagine a novel or any large project can be, and all the more so because we are concerned to faithfully tell the story and upset as few people as possible!  And so, we begin.  We have mapped a rough outline of themes to pursue, and between August 9-18 we will visit London, where we will interview Ranald McCauley, husband of Susan Schaeffer McCauley (daughter of Edith and Francis), and then on to Huemoz, Switzerland, for three days at L'Abri, with interviews of the other daughters and husbands and even Edith, who is now in her mid-nineties, research of the L'Abri archives, photography, recording of sounds, and participation in the life of the community there.

It's a humbling experience.  Pray for us.

[Stay tuned for a blog devoted specifically to The Tapestry Project which is in development now.]