Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rich Mullins died in a car accident on the way to one of his shows. I was only eight-years-old when he died, but I remember hearing his songs on Christian radio. He’s one of the few CCM artists I still listen to with any regularity, and I’ve probably played “A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band” many dozens of times.

He represents some of the best things about late evangelical culture, much of which is gone now. He had taken a vow of poverty, he spent his time teaching music on Indian reservations, and lived in contrast to the evangelical celebrity absurdity. He said once in concert:

You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you just have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too…But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.
Channelling a little of St. Anthony there.

I heard about Mullins’ intention of becoming Catholic, or at least his interest in it. The Ochlophobist has an interesting post today about him and his actual plans to become a Catholic (see also this, from the comments).

He was a good writer. He was a fine pop musician (though definitely with some ‘90s sentimental cheese). But I think what makes Rich Mullins interesting is his willingness to be faithful to the Christian faith, even if that meant making difficult decisions (like leaving Protestantism, or embracing poverty). And he lived this life in the CCM world - the petty, bourgeois, latte-sipping, Laodicean megachurch world. He seemed quite reluctant about all of this. He cussed like a sailor, chain-smoked, wore shitty clothes, and often looked pretty disheveled. He lived with one foot in the evangelical world and another outside of it.


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