Book Recommendation: "And God Said 'Billy'" by Frank Schaeffer

First of all, you need to know that I don’t read books.  I know… crazy… but it’s true. I had some real learning challenges growing up (so books have never been my friends) and that, coupled with a hefty diet of 80’s cartoons and sitcoms, and well… you are left with a 43 year old who still struggles with books.  As a result, here are my rules:

  1. I don’t read unless a book is an assignment of some kind.
  2. I never read fiction.
  3. I never read a book cover to cover.
  4. I never read a book word for word (skimming is one of my coping mechanisms).

So, we went camping this past week.  Frank Schaeffer and I have crossed paths a few times in the last couple of years and he has been tremendously kind to me, so I went ahead and threw his novel (see rule #2 above) in my bag. It is titled, And God Said, “Billy”, photo-7and I was just hoping that I would get around to opening it.

The first night, sitting at the campfire, I started his 305 page book.  By bedtime of the second night I had read it straight through, cover to cover (rule 3) and word for word (rule 4).

If that is not endorsement enough, then I am not communicating very well.

The back cover of Billy reads: “The story is set in the 1980s and is about Billy, a fundamentalist Christian who feels called to go to Hollywood to make “God’s movie.” But everything goes off the rails when he accepts a job to direct a soft-porn slasher/exploitation film in apartheid-era South Africa.”

This book is a ruggedly entertaining story where I was constantly asking myself “Could this spiraling chaos possibly go deeper?” (as the back cover quote above implies.) It is a powerfully humorous narrative commentary on religion, faith, assurance, spiritual-fulfillment, society and church.

So, here’s the deal.  Do NOT read this book if:

  • You cannot laugh at religion.
  • You cannot laugh at your own religion.
  • You cannot comically (and profoundly) critique yourself as a spiritual being.
  • Or if the presence of the term “soft-porn” in the earlier paragraph released a “Harumph!” in your soul.

I loved this book.  I really did.  I have been telling any friend I stumble across about it ever since I finished it 5 days ago. Cover to cover entertaining.  And, super-bonus, it contains one of the best single chapters I have read in years, if not ever (you will have to read the book to guess which one.)

Scandalous and entertaining.  Disturbing and soul-opening.  Profound.

And God Said, “Billy” is a modern parable with Pilgrim’s Progress implications.

Thank you, Frank.

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