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Responding to Oppenneimer and Lizza:Defending Francis Schaeffer’s influence on believers such as Michele Bachmann(Part 8)

Both Oppenneimer and Lizza have attacked Francis Schaeffer’s view, but the way to know his views best is to take time to watch his film series. I said that in my first post and I will continue to show all ten episodes of his film series “How should we then live?”

This is a series of posts concerning presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and her religious beliefs. Particularly I will be looking at the identity of Francis Schaeffer who Michele said had major impact on her views. I also would say that Francis Schaeffer was the greatest christian philosopher of the 20th century. 

In 1979 I first watched the film series “How should we then live?” and it was so impressive to me that I returned to my high school with permission from my former teacher to view the series again. In fact, Mr. Brink would tell the seniors at Evangelical Christian School in  Cordova, TN something to this affect: “I hope you realize how important this film series by Dr. Francis Schaeffer is. Here we have Everette Hatcher who is in college now, but he is coming back to see this film again because he knows how valuable it is.”

The best way to understand Michele Bachmann’s worldview is to watch the film series “How should we then live?” by Francis Schaeffer. I have provided a 30 minute episode at the end of this post with a written outline.  In this film series the humanist worldview is seen as weak because it is not able to give adequate answers to life’s tough questions while the christian worldview can.  Humanism has a finite base because it is limited to finite man while the Christian worldview is based on information provided by the infinite-personal God of the Bible.


Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…

On Michele Bachmann » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch

Michele who? Some of you might be asking this question. If you live in the US you would probably know of her, for at least two reasons. She is one of a number of Republicans seeking the nomination for the presidential race in 2012. But most likely she is fairly well known because of the incredible demonization job being directed at her.

She must be doing something right if she is receiving so much bad press. Indeed, it can almost be taken as a rule of thumb that the more the secular left mainstream media attacks a person, the more likely it is that this person is worth supporting.

Indeed, the more hate the MSM showers on someone, the more likely such a person is worth being aware of. And if there is one thing the left in general and their MSM colleagues hate with a passion, it is conservative, pro-life, pro-faith and pro-family women.

There is probably no greater animus to be found amongst the secular leftists than women who hold to Christian and conservative values. That is why Sarah Palin has been absolutely crucified by the left and their media allies. They hate her with a passion.

But while Palin has not yet announced whether she will run for the presidential race, another conservative Christian woman has: Michele Bachmann. And like Palin, she is not afraid to speak her mind, and she is proud to champion her pro-faith and pro-family credentials.

So she too is being attacked mercilessly by the left. She stands for everything they can’t stand. She thinks marriage and family are vitally important. She is decidedly pro-life. She thinks the Judeo-Christian worldview is what made America and the West great.

Thus she is now public enemy number one in the eyes of the left. I can almost guarantee that if you hear anything about her here in Australia, it will most likely be negative and critical. The leftist MSM here are just as bigoted and biased as they are in the US.

Thus as her name becomes more famous, the more she will be wildly attacked in the Australian media, just like she already is back in her home country. So as I already asked, who is she? She is a 55-year-old politician who was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2006.

Prior to that she was a Republican Senator in the Minnesota State Senate. Last month she announced her Republican presidential nomination bid. And she has been under a tremendous attack ever since. She now knows full well what Palin has had to go through.

It is still early days in terms of which Republicans will be involved in this race, but she has already pipped frontrunner Mitt Romney in some polls. So even though it remains to be seen what the final field will be, I mention all this because of a piece in today’s religious press.

I have already been impressed by Bachmann. She is of course not perfect, and like all the candidates she has various strengths and weaknesses, but what I read today further confirmed in my mind that she may be the best Republican on offer thus far for the top job.

The headline of this story runs as follows: “Christian Writer Francis Schaeffer Shaped Pro-Life Views”. Here is how the report goes: “Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is one of the several pro-life advocates seeking the Republican nomination to face pro-abortion President Barack Obama and she cites Christian writer Francis Schaeffer as an influence on her pro-life views.

“In a campaign stop to speak to local residents at a church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bachmann shared her testimony and talked about the Christian faith she and her husband share. That faith, which has matured thanks to the writings of Schaeffer, has led Bachman to a pro-life view that has seen her compile a 100% pro-life voting record in Congress and adopt dozens of foster children.

“‘One thing that Dr. Schaeffer said is that [God is] not just the God of theology. He’s not just the God of the Bible,’ Bachmann said, according to the Des Moines Register. ‘Since he is the Creator God, he’s the father of biology, sociology, of political science, of you name the subject. … And that altered our way of thinking, that God had something to say about our career.’

“‘Francis Schaeffer also said that life is the watershed issue of our time, and how we come down on how we view human life will impact all other issues,’ she said. ‘And so Marcus and I decided we didn’t want to be pro-life only, just as speaking… We wanted to live a life of being about pro-life’.

“The Register indicates Bachmann told the audience that, upon the encouragement to put her pro-life views into action, she and her husband began counseling and praying with single mothers and helping them get to pregnancy and adoption centers to provide further practical support instead of abortion.”

Wow, there are not too many presidential candidates who unashamedly acknowledge such Christian heavyweights as Francis Schaeffer and the influence they had. And her willingness to actually get involved in pro-life activism is impressive as well. It is good to see not just pro-life talk here, but pro-life action as well.

For those not familiar with the life and work of Schaeffer, he was a leading Christian pastor, apologist, thinker, and activist, who had a huge influence on the evangelical world for the past half century or so. His ministry in the Swiss Alps called L’Abri had a tremendous impact on countless religious seekers. I wrote up this incredible man and his incredible ministry here:www.billmuehlenberg.com/2009/10/14/notable-christians-francis-schaeffer/

Thus to learn that Bachmann is so heavily influenced by this important Christian is most pleasing, although not really surprising. Bachmann has stuck to her guns despite a tsunami of opposition and criticism, and it is refreshing to find someone not ashamed of her faith and her pro-life commitments.

As stated, we must await to learn of the final field of candidates who are seeking to win the right to stand against Obama. But in terms of important key values, there could not be a greater contrast than between Michele Bachmann and Barrack Hussein Obama.



E P I S O D E 8

How Should We Then Live 8#1

I saw this film series in 1979 and it had a major impact on me.


I. Art As a Vehicle Of Modern Thought

A. Impressionism (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas) and Post-Impressionism (Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat): appearance and reality.

1. Problem of reality in Impressionism: no universal.

2. Post-Impression seeks the universal behind appearances.

3. Painting expresses an idea in its own terms as a work of art; to discuss the idea in a painting is not to intellectualize art.

4. Parallel search for universal in art and philosophy; Cézanne.

B. Fragmentation.

1. Extremes of ultra-naturalism or abstraction: Wassily Kandinsky.

2. Picasso leads choice for abstraction: relevance of this choice.

3. Failure of Picasso (like Sartre, and for similar reasons) to be fully consistent with his choice.

C. Retreat to absurdity.

1. Dada , and Marcel Duchamp: art as absurd.

2. Art followed philosophy but came sooner to logical end.

3. Chance in his art technique as an art theory impossible to practice: Pollock.

II. Music As a Vehicle of Modern Thought

A. Non-resolution and fragmentation: German and French streams.

1. Influence of Beethoven’s last Quartets.

2. Direction and influence of Debussy.

3. Schoenberg’s non-resolution; contrast with Bach.

4. Stockhausen: electronic music and concern with the element of change.

B. Cage: a case study in confusion.

1. Deliberate chance and confusion in Cage’s music.

2. Cage’s inability to live the philosophy of his music.

C. Contrast of music-by-chance and the world around us.

1. Inconsistency of indulging in expression of chaos when we acknowledge order for practical matters like airplane design.

2. Art as anti-art when it is mere intellectual statement, divorced from reality of who people are and the fullness of what the universe is.

III. General Culture As the Vehicle of Modern Thought

A. Propagation of idea of fragmentation in literature.

1. Effect of Eliot’s Wasteland and Picasso’s Demoiselles d’ Avignon

compared; the drift of general culture.

2. Eliot’s change in his form of writing when he became a Christian.

3. Philosophic popularization by novel: Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir.

B. Cinema as advanced medium of philosophy.

1. Cinema in the 1960s used to express Man’s destruction: e.g. Blow-up.

2. Cinema and the leap into fantasy:

The Hour of the WolfBelle de JourJuliet of the Spirits, The Last Year at Marienbad.

3. Bergman’s inability to live out his philosophy (see Cage): Silence and The Hour of the Wolf.

IV. Only on Christian Base Can Reality Be Faced Squarely


1. Explain what “fragmentation” means, as discussed by Dr. Schaeffer. What does it result from? Give examples of it.

2. Apart from the fact that modern printing and recording processes made the art and music of the past more accessible than ever before, do you think that the preference of many people for the art and music of the past is related to the matters discussed by Dr. Schaeffer? If so, how?

3. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds… With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” Emerson wrote this over a century ago. Debate.

4. How far do you think that the opinion of some Christians that one should have nothing to do with philosophy, art and novels is a manifestation of the very fragmentation which is characteristic of modern secular thought? Discuss.

Key Events and Persons

Beethoven’s last Quartets: 1825-26

Claude Monet: 1840-1926

Poplars at Giverny, Sunrise: 1885

Paul Cézanne: 1839-1906

The Bathers: c.1905

Claude Debussy: 1862-1918

Wassily Kandinsky: 1866-1944

Arnold Schoenberg: 1874-1951

Picasso: 1881-1973

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: 1906-7

Marcel Duchamp: 1887-1969

Nude Descending a Staircase: 1912

T.S. Eliot: 1888-1965

The Wasteland: 1922

John Cage: 1912-1992

Music for Marcel Duchamp: 1947

Jackson Pollock: 1912-1956

Karlheinz Stockhausen: 1928-

Sartre’s Nausea: 1938

Beauvoir’s L’Invitée: 1943

Camus’ The Stranger: 1942

Camus’ The Plague: 1947

Resnais’ The Last Year at Marienbad: 1961

Bergman’s The Silence: 1963

Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits: 1965

Antonioni’s Blow-Up: 1966

Bergman’s The Hour of the Wolf: 1967

Buñel’s Belle de Jour: 1967

Further Study

Perhaps you have seen some of the films mentioned. You should try to see them if you haven’t.Watch for them in local art-film festivals, on TV, or in campus film series. They rarely return nowadays to the commercial circuit. The sex and violence which they treated philosophically have now taken over the screen in a more popular and crude form! Easier of access are the philosophic novels of Sartre, Camus and de Beauvoir. Read the titles Dr. Schaeffer mentions. Again, for the artwork and music mentioned, consult libraries and record shops. But spend time here—let the visual images and the musical sounds sink in.

Listening patiently to Cage and Webern, for example, will tell you more than volumes of musicology.

T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland (many editions, usually in collections of his verse).

Joseph Machlis, Introduction to Contemporary Music (1961).

H.R. Rookmaaker, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture (1970).

Donald J. Drew, Images of Man (1974).

Colin Wilson, The Outsider (1956).

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