Friday, January 24, 2014


I saw Ragamuffin this week. The movie.

I don’t normally do reviews here, and I’m struggling to find words to adequately describe the film. Which seems completely appropriate – I never met Rich Mullins, but I have friends who knew him, and invariably the first words out of their mouths are,

“Well, he was different.”

He would appreciate that.

For those not familiar with Rich, he wrote a lot of the Christian music heard in the 80s and 90s. Christian music in that era was Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Rich Mullins. If you’ve ever set foot in a church, you likely have sung “Awesome God” and others of his.

His songs may seem a bit like golden oldies to some at this point, but he was a rebel in his time. The establishment did not like his rock and roll ways … his lack of appreciation for rules … for shoes.

He may have been the original Jesus freak – a term I first learned while on vacation with my family as a child, when we encountered a hippie dude who totally looked like Jesus. I think we were on the boardwalk in Quebec City. The guy had long dark hair, a beard, some type of robe thing as best I can recall, and sandals. I don’t remember a thing he said, and he didn’t seem threatening to me, but I remember clearly my parents describing the man as a “Jesus freak” once we were out of earshot.

I usually play the piano in flip flops during warmer months. My own blinged out girl version of Jesus sandals. So go ahead, call me a Jesus freak. You may even find me barefoot during rehearsal.

Seriously, everyone tells me Rich was not a fan of shoes, and the movie makes that obvious. Maybe it’s a musician thing.

What makes Rich’s music special is the honesty – sometimes brutal – and complexity of the lyrics, set to melodies that stick in your head. I have always been a fan of smart lyrics.

“So on the road to salvation, I stick out my thumb and he gives me a ride.”

One of my favorites. It says so much in a prophetic few words.

Rich’s legacy is more than just music, though. He challenged people and challenged the establishment without really making people mad. He emphasized faith over religion, but he wasn’t anti-church by any means. He would rather you focus on God than him. He would rather you read scripture for yourself instead of taking his word for it.

Trying to be more like Christ, figuring out what exactly that looks like, and above all recognizing God’s love for us … those were the themes of his life.

Go see this movie if you …
  • ever feel like you don’t belong.
  • think church people are hypocrites.
  • think you have it all figured out.
  • think you have nothing figured out.
  • ever feel unloved.
  • yearn for more authenticity in the church.
  • think perfection is required in this life.

Go see Ragamuffin. Take tissues. And prepare to have your thoughts provoked.

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