I picked up Baby Jack at a Borders in the Detroit airport. I was needing something to read while waiting for my plane and during the layover in Chicago. It looked about the right length, and I figured I’d finish it before touching down in Minneapolis. What really hooked me, though, were the blurbs on the inside cover that touted the book as “true.”
The book is a novel about a young man, Jack, who joins the Marines against the wishes of his parents. It’s about what motivates young men to serve their country, and how it affects those who love them. It’s also about the self-centeredness of America’s cultural elites. In it God is a tough-as-nails Marine drill instructor who doesn’t care about human suffering but only about good drama. Some Christians might find Schaeffer’s depiction of God offensive. But I couldn’t help smiling at this paragraph about the shock some people get in the afterlife:
Sometimes the dead are so bummed they even argue theology with God. A few days ago, a newly arrived Southern Baptist preacher was so shocked by God’s profanity that he told God that he thought God needed to repent and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior. “What are you talking about?” God yelled, “I’m an atheist for Christ’s sake!”
I don’t think Schaeffer intends his theology to be taken seriously. He’s writing about the meaning that sacrifice gives to our lives, and he thinks Marine drill instructors have the straight skinny on it. I think his intention is to honor drill instuctors, not to dishonor God.
One of the characters, Jack’s sister Amanda, wants to know why our news media are so skewed toward whatever is dishonorable and rarely mention what is honorable. She makes a scene in the newsroom, demanding of the reporters there:
“Why is Jack’s name only in this shitty [newsprint] box?” Amanda yells, as she waves the clipping. “Why do you piss yourselves every time Tony Kushner farts but you can’t be generous to one American hero? Why is a Pulitzer a big deal but not a Silver Star? Who makes those rules? Does anyone in this room have a family member in uniform?”
The book also has a study guide at the end for book clubs. Schaeffer is sure that his novel is true, and he wants to make sure his readers get it.