Back when I was in college and I hung out with a group of Super Rollers (which is a term I use very lovingly), I was really into Christian music. And this was when I feel Christian music was in its golden age. I can’t stand any Christian music made after, like, 2001.* (In my opinion, Christian music was awesome from 1998-2001. And yes, this is when I was in college and actually listening to it, so it seems pretty biased, but whatever. I still stand by it.)
My favorite Christian music singer was a guy named Rich Mullins. He was most famous for writing “Awesome God,” (you’ve heard it), and that song was pretty good, but I really always liked him as a person. He was a guy who made good music, sure, but he also preached a lot about the poor and about the problems with Christians and how, when we get right down it, don’t do a lot of loving God, just loving ourselves. He was convicting, he was funny, and he was truly all about running straight into the burning heart of God, which takes courage and faith and just pure selflessness.
He died in 1997, before I’d even heard of him, so I never got to go to a concert, but I read every book I could on his life and have a bunch of the articles he wrote, and I have most of his music on CD somewhere.
Not too long ago, a bunch of folks got together and made a movie about his life, because it made for a good story: a man of faith coming from this really broken place, trying to find his true calling in life and just going after God, really trying to get to the heart of his relationship with Him. They’re still screening the film now at some churches around the country (the list is here.) And it’s an actual movie, not a documentary, so the plot kinda jumps around, but it was really very beautifully shot.
A good friend of mine and I saw the film last weekend. And it was good, for what it was. Do I think it was a great movie? Not really. Do I think it was a good movie? It was entertaining. And I liked the subject matter. It had its faults, but I’ve also seen some movies with Christian themes to them that were just horribly, horribly done. And this, long as it was and kind of unbalanced as it was, was not horribly done.
I’m writing a novel. I’m about halfway done, but I don’t want to write too much about it since I tend to be really scared that if it doesn’t work out I’ll look like an idiot, but I can say that it’s based on a book of the Bible. And I struggle with how I feel it’s going to be perceived. Is it going to be corny? Is it going to, because it’s so saturated with God, be just this stale, still piece of work? Because I’ll be honest with you – it definitely could.
It’s funny – I kind of look at it like I’m in the middle. I really DO NOT want it to be this cornball, really saccharine book for teens (it’s a YA novel) with characters that go around saying, “Have you heard the Good News?” because so many books with Christian plotlines to them end up being exactly that. And I know that what I write is nowhere near anything a Ron Hansen, CS Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, or Evelyn Waugh could produce.
So I’ll probably end up with the literary equivalent of what this Rich Mullins movie was: entertaining, fun, a bit too long, and a little unbalanced, but shoot, at this point I’ll just be happy to have it out there.
*Except for Jars of Clay. I love them and everything they do, present day work included.