Monday, March 02, 2009

~ charming & offensive ~

I have Rich on the brain.

This weekend we traveled to Dallas for the Ronnie Fauss CD release show, which was fab. The last song had a line in it that went something like this (these are not the actual lyrics, but the best of my memory):
Rich Mullins told me life is about much more than riches,
But Snoop Dogg said its all about money and bitches,
And I’m still trying to figure out which one is right.


My theology has been deeply shaped by the life of Rich Mullins, and looking back it seems quite humorous. When we would be stuck in the van for hours on mission trips and youth retreats, it seems that our leaders were always more concerned with those weird bands we were listening to (you know, like that Australian rock band Newsboys?) than the likes of Rich. Little did they know, his albums should probably include a “listen with discernment” label. I came across this fabulous interview from The Phantom Tollbooth back in ’96, and thought I would share a bit with you here:

Tollbooth: I've seen you in festival settings before and have never heard you speak at such length. You have the capability of being quite charming and also extremely offensive.

Mullins: I love that combination.

Tollbooth: You certainly spoke your mind.

Mullins: Oh, I'm so guarded! If people really knew my mind, they'd go, "Oh, my gosh, where's the gasoline! We gotta burn this guy!" (laugher by all)

See, I think a lot of my songs are really political. I think nobody gets it, but it's hard for me to divide up my politics and my religious convictions. There's something offensive to me about having an American flag in a church building. When the CIA pretended to be missionaries and caused trouble in Chile so that all missionaries were kicked out, I think that makes the United States the enemy of the kingdom of God. I think a government that requires 18-year-old boys to register for the draft is anti-life. See, all the pro-lifers, they only think life is sacred if you are a fetus. I agree that life is sacred to fetuses, but I also think it's sacred to 18-year-olds. Where were you people when Nixon was in the White House? When Lyndon Johnson was escalating the war? Not that I necessarily think that everybody has to be a pacifist; I don't. But it does seem funny to me that so many people who are anti-abortion are pro-capital punishment. So many people who are anti-capital punishment are pro-abortion.

All I ask of anybody is that you make a little effort to be consistent. Life is one of those things that G. K. Chesterton says almost makes sense, which is the really tragic thing about life.

I really struggle with American Christianity. I'm not really sure that people with our cultural disabilities are capable of having souls, or being saved.

Tollbooth: Cultural disabilities?

Mullins: We could call it that. People who grow up in a culture that worships pleasure, leisure, and affluence. I think that's where the church is doubly damned when they use Jesus as a vehicle for achieving all of that. Like, if you give a tithe, He'll make you rich. Why? Are you hacking Him off or something? If you give a tithe, you get rid of ten percent of the root of all evil. You should be giving ninety percent. Cause God can handle money better than we can.

Tollbooth: What are you doing at Hilltop Christian School (on a Navajo Indian reservation) where you moved last year?

Mullins: I'm not doing anything there right now.

Tollbooth: What happened?

Mullins: They found out I wasn't a fundamentalist.

Tollbooth: (Laughter) Excuse me?

Mullins: Big surprise, huh?

Tollbooth: Your theology threw you out? Your beliefs?

Mullins: It wasn't like anybody pulled the carpet out from under me. I believe it's better for any organization to go the wrong way together than to go different ways separately. I totally understand, appreciate, and respect people who say, "we're not sure about this, but this is what we're doing. You really need to fit in with this, or you shouldn't be here." And I can respect that. We both agreed that I don't really need to be there right now, just because I don't "get" fundamentalists, and I don't really know that I want to be stuck with a bunch of 'em.
(Photo Credit)

*lyrics correction*

Well Mullins said that life is not about riches
But then Snoop said it's nothing but money and bitches
And I've been doing some thinking and I don't know which is
The one that I'll believe


Janna said...

Kim, by the way, you're awesome.

Rich, he saw through all the bullshit didn't he? "Cultural disabilities" -- love it. Worshiping pleasure, leisure and riches -- yep, that's us.

John and I "made" each other presents for X-mas, and I printed out this quote by Rich and framed it for him. He hung it up in his office at the church.

"Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken."

Kimberly said...

I think that has to be quite possibly the best Christmas gift ever created. Love the quote!

p.s. you, my dear, are the awesome one.

Ramón said...

I wish I had been exposed to Rich Mullins immediately upon becoming a Christian at age 16. I remember him dying probably months after and not knowing who this person was that everyone was grieving.

What's ironic is that they didn't understand the subversive message of the very man they were grieving. Kind of like Jesus, I guess.