Thinking Out Loud

April 24, 2016

A Movie for All the Ragamuffins

Ragamuffin Rich Mullins Movie

Last night we finally got to watch the DVD of Ragamuffin, the story of Christian singer Rich Mullins. For two-hours and 15-minutes, we sat through the ups and downs of his life. The movie was, from beginning to end, saturated in the unique Rich Mullins sound. I said to my wife, “I’ve probably never listened to the sound of the hammered dulcimer this much ever.”

Her reaction to the music was to be totally impressed that the actor playing Rich did his own vocals for the movie, which added some authenticity.

Rather than replay the story line, let me say this instead: This is a movie for

  • Anyone who has ever felt like a misfit; that their history or their calling is simply different from everyone else; that there’s nobody to talk to about what they do because nobody does it, or talk to about how they see the world because nobody else sees the world the same way.
  • Someone who has struggled with their relationship, or lack of relationship with their father; with or without perhaps the added burden of thereby trying to comprehend a loving heavenly Father.
  • A person who is constantly wrestling their own inner demons; be it some particular pain, or addictive behavior.
  • Those who have been let down, disappointed, abandoned, or somehow severed from relationships due to circumstances or even death; whose history seems to be one of people constantly leaving.
  • People who feel the core essence of Christ’s teachings isn’t so much about outward conformity to religious standards, but rather a security in the knowledge that God loves us.
  • Fans of Christian music who want to see the realities of the industry, warts and all, and how God uses people in spite of their brokenness. 
  • Thinkers who want to press further into the idea of grace and how sinners can and do experience the grace of God.

And that is just to name a few things this movie touches.

Rich Mullins’ life intersected with other people you know, from Amy Grant to author Brennan Manning. His music, from “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” to “Awesome God” impacted a generation of Christians.

This is a tough movie to watch. Rich’s life is not an ideal; not really a role model we can hold up to today’s Christian youth. It’s a very dark story; not your typical Christian movie. There were also some continuity issues — the conflicting hair length of the actor has confused many reviewers — which interrupted the flow of what was otherwise a beautifully crafted piece of cinema.

But for us, last night, it was must-watching. Knowing a little about Rich Mullins’ life ahead of time, the movie did not disappoint.

You can read more about the movie, and watch a trailer, at an article I wrote in 2014 when Rich was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.


  1. As with most movies, 15 minutes could easily have been lopped off. We knew he was an angry young man after the first couple of rants so no need to keep emphasizing it. Whether he should not be a role model could be debated. I believe that too many times we hold up people who have done great deeds, written great songs or passed great laws but their pasts have been hidden from the populace in general. When actions are revealed that smudge their memories we can only feel let down. If we know up front that a person is flawed maybe that helps us better connect with him. “She sins like me so there is hope I can overcome my issues and be able to contribute to the Kingdom.”

    Comment by The Purging Lutheran — April 24, 2016 @ 1:02 pm

    • Before posting this, I looked through a number of online reviews, and my 3rd-to-last paragraph could have and perhaps should have been fleshed out in much greater detail. I just don’t think the average church member would want their youth group to watch this, but with you, I’m not sure that watching it would be such a bad thing. Even now, the next day, as I reflect on the movie, I am reminded of God’s grace and also the brokenness in my own life. Maybe we need more movies like this. And I agree with you that just under two hours would be a better length.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 24, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

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