Thinking Out Loud

April 21, 2010

Wednesday Think Links

Here’s the list for Wednesday the 21st: That means spring is one-third gone already!   (Or autumn for all our mates down under.)

  • Gotta love the new style of church names, right?   Okay, maybe not all of them. The blog Out of Ur has put them all in this collection.
  • What’s the worst thing a Methodist preacher can do?   Re-baptize someone, according to this piece by Talbot Davis at The Heart of the Matter.   Mind you, I can think of worse things!
  • Cornerstone Church without Francis Chan?  Tell me he’s just testing his congregation again.  Here’s the 11-minute video at Resurgence.  Or listen to the message on 4/18 here.
  • David Kenney went to church on Good Friday and Easter, only Jesus never died at the one, and never rose again at the other.   In this piece, he suggests that it’s all about life.
  • Tom Datema sets the bar low enough on church “purpose statements” that any local church can attain, in this piece at Brain Twitch.
  • Can you handle one more Jennifer Knapp post.  “…Let’s assume that it is a sin.  Then my question is: Can a sinful person love Jesus?  Oh! We’ve got to be so careful how we answer that question.  To me, the answer is an obvious “yes”.  It is obvious to me because my own life testifies to it.  In every season of my life, I have struggled with different sins. But in all of those seasons I have still loved Jesus.”  Read in full at Upwrite.
  • All those progressive Christian radio stations can keep playing Owl City, now that Adam Young has hit the online pages of Christianity Today.
  • Colin at the blog simply titled Words has an analogy on the subject of “constructive reconstruction” of faith with the piece, My Brother the Bike Mechanic.
  • Jon Acuff from Stuff Christians Like finally gets around to doing a book promo video, but you might draw more from this CNN clip of a piece he appeared in.  (Canadian readers:  Does John Roberts hint at the end that he attends North Point?)
  • Allen Flemming, who claims an intimate knowledge of the family says that Canadian David DiSabatino’s DVD documentary on Larry Norman has got it all wrong, setting up a website refuting Fallen Angel called Failed Angle.
  • Pastor Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch.tv re-establishes his church’s purposes in The Code, a series of 13 statements spread out over three blog posts at Swerve.   You’ll have to click here and then head for April 14, 15 and 16 posts; but they’re good reading.  (Or see them all in the comments section here.)
  • Andrew Jones aka Tall Skinny Kiwi, has a balanced look at discernment ministries in 10 Ways to Keep Watchdogs from Barking.
  • Jason Wert is thankful for Anne Jackson drawing attention to the issue of human trafficking in Moldova, but suggests this event has been going on for a long while, even in the United States.
  • Adrienne at the blog, Contemplative Life, has a short post here introducing a piece by Ann Voskamp about Ann’s daughter’s baptism.   Start here, and then click the link to Ann’s piece.
  • Bill at the blog, A New Language for Christians, puts a more modern spin on the story of the good Samaritan.
  • This week’s cartoon is from Thom Tapp at Baptist Press:

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March 11, 2009

Larry Norman Documentary Premieres in San Jose

fallen-allenCanadian David Di Sabatino, the man who brought us a unique glimpse into the early days of the Jesus movement through his documentary of hippie preacher Lonnie Frisbee, is back again, this time with Fallen Angel, an honest look at the life of Jesus Music pioneer Larry Norman.

As a documentary film-maker, Di Sabatino doesn’t act under a strict mandate to paint a rosy picture of Norman, citing examples from the Bible of people who God used in unusual circumstances and despite unusual personalities, in this interview with blogger Michael Newnham who blogs as Phoenix Preacher:

I think that if you or I met the prophet Ezekiel or Hosea brought his whore wife over for dinner or John the Baptist sat at your table and demanded to be fed locusts and honey, we’d call the cops never mind anathematize them. I always ask people when they start parsing the life of Elvis or Bono or some lesser mortals and whether they are heaven bound what their reaction would be if the Apostle Paul showed up a few years after his conversion to speak in your hometown church, and he had been responsible for killing your parents. Not likely you’d be dropping a bundle in the offering that night.

God uses some of the most screwed up people to do his bidding. I think that story is sometimes tough to deal with. I sure don’t like it at times, but nobody left me in charge.

Much of what’s online right now is from people who, like me, haven’t seen the finished production.    Blogger Jon Reid tries to get the heart of the issue in this post where he begins, “Was Larry Norman a messenger of God, or was he a dick?”    Okay…  (UPDATE: In fairness, Jon’s full review — a little less provocative — is now available here, and well worth reading.) But the San Jose Mercury News was at the premiere and by reporter Shay Quillen’s account, the event drew a rather unique audience:

When Cinequest premiered “Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman” Sunday at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the conversations afterward were as fascinating as the riveting documentary on the screen. Norman, widely regarded as the father of Christian rock, got his first taste of fame in the late 1960s as a member of the San Jose band People, which scored a big hit with “I Love You.” So he’s got a lot of friends and fans in the area, as well as a lot of people who came to have serious differences with him. (As the movie made clear, many people fall in all three categories.) And a lot of ‘em came out for the premiere.

Sitting directly in front of me was Randy Stonehill, the San Jose-raised Christian rock pioneer who was led to Jesus and given his start in the music business by Norman, and who sat for hours of interviews for the movie. Also present was Norman’s first wife, Pamela, as well as Jennifer Wallace and Daniel Robinson, the Australian mother and son battling for recognition that Norman was the boy’s father. Denny Fridkin and Gene Mason from People were there, as well as lots of movers and shakers from the Christian music industry. And the filmmaker, David DiSabatino, was on hand to answer questions about a movie that is sure to be controversial among those who care about Norman and his music…

…continue reading more of that report here.

On the webpage for MetroActive, also in San Jose, reporter Richard Von Busack seems to see an inherent challenge as Di Sabatino, the fan, must become Di Sabatino, the journalist:

…Unfortunately, the preponderance of the evidence is that Norman was no more moral than any other easily tempted, world-famous musician…

…This is bad news for Di Sabatino to deliver, because he is a fan…

…The devout Di Sabatino worked very hard on this documentary, just as he did on his fascinating Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher. He must be considered an expert on the Jesus Freak epoch, and this warts-and-all study of Norman must be considered definitive…

You can read that one in its original form here, complete with the 411 on the moral temptations being referred to.

BTW, the last two items surfaced in a Google News search for both Norman and the documentary title; if you use a regular Google search, you actually find over a thousand matches.   Already.

My own contact with Larry was on and off during those days.   One day, while staying at the home of Alex MacDougall (Daniel Amos) Larry arrived at noon to do about six full loads of laundry.   I’m not sure if he had been on tour or had simply got behind on his laundry the way he had gotten behind on his sleep:  booking overnight sessions at Costa Mesa’s Whitefield Studios when the rates were lower.   Anyway, Larry set his alarm clock to go off every half hour so he could take laundry from the washer to the dryer, and then would fall back asleep.   (Note:  This is not healthy.)

My other Larry story stems from a night we had worked on a concert in St. Catharines, Ontario.   The promoter took us all out for a healthy dinner (french fries, hamburgers, french fries, coke and french fries) at the only place he knew to be open at midnight in that town:  a bowling alley.   I think either Randy Stonehill or Tom Howard was with us that night; and each time the musical guests from Saturday Night Live showed up on the television, Larry ran frantically toward the screen; such was his desire to keep up with new bands and new sounds.

larry-norman-in-another-land-25th-frontOf all Larry’s “product” output, my favorite is In Another Land, often called “the Sargent Pepper of Christian music.”    I use the word “product” that way because for me, the exhaustive notes accompanying the album were as meaningful and valuable to me as the recording itself.   I always felt Larry should have done a book or two, and I told him so several times.   The notes in his documentary of faith themes in secular music, the album Streams of White Light Into Corners of Darkness, are equally illuminating.  (Pun on title intended.)

David DiSabatino’s Lonnie Frisbee project has been linked on this blog for awhile now.   This week we’ll be adding the link to Fallen Angel.    I hope to see the film soon, and may get back to you again when and if I do.

Graphics:  Documentary cover and one of the many covers of Larry Norman’s landmark album.   Search it out online and notice the many different versions, though the images are actually a mix of vinyl and CD product.

Related post on this blog – Frisbee – documentary review – July 7, ’08

Related post on this blog – Remembering Larry Norman – February 25, ’08

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