The New Yorker’s profile of presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann introduces key figures in her life that influence her social and political views. One of these is Evangelical Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer. The excerpt above from Frontline’s God in America series describes Schaeffer as “the intellectual catalyst” that drove conservative Evangelicals into politics in the 1970s. They note that his documentary series, How Should We Then Live, also inspired thousands of Evangelicals.


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Reading this well-researched New Yorker article was something of a surreal experience for me. Her choices as a young woman took her into the influences of some of the very people my (deliberate) choices as a young woman took me away from. Which makes me something like the reverse Bachmann, I suppose. I think every politically active American, whether they hate Bachmann or especially if they support her, should read this piece.

I guess I am wondering when we will see a politician who will be able to speak theologically in an authentic way.  Most of the people I know, myself included, come from a pretty jumbled up and confusing place when talking about God.  I understand the appeal of linear, black and white thinking.  I've given it a few shots myself.  But the reality is, lots of us have gay sons, people in our family that have died too soon or from tragic circumstances, and even if we grew up in church (like I did), seldom see the world working through the lens of a single theologian.  I guess I wonder what purpose is served, other than adjusting the lens on the microscope of public scrutiny that any political candidate has upon them, by saying Francis Schaeffer is my kind of theologian.  OK, who else informs you theologically?  Dorothee Soelle? Reinhold Niebuhr? Dietrich Bonhoeffer?  Dorothy Day?  Is it always such a straight line?  Is it always so clear and so conservative?  Is it too dangerous politically to have questions rather than answers?  I guess I know it is.  Consequently, I am not surprised that Ms. Bachmann has cited Shaeffer as her guy.  It doesn't tell me anything about her that I didn't already know.  I wonder when she read Francis Shaeffer?  Which of his books and what was going on in her life at the time...not that we will ever know if she even can have a clear discussion about what Schaeffer had to say.  Just don't know if this is even worth noting.