Michael Koch. Biography of Christian music artist Rich Mullins. Written by Ashleigh Phillips and David Leo Schultz. Directed by David Schultz. Limited theatrical engagement May 2, 2014, with a DVD release on May 6.
FILM SYNOPSIS: Christian musician Rich Mullins, who died in a 1997 accident at the age of 41, grew up in Indiana, had performed with a touring Christian music group in his teens, and then attended Cincinnati Bible College from 1974 to 1978. Moving to Nashville in the 1980s, Mullins wrote songs for Amy Grant, Debby Boone and other notable Christian artists and recorded nine solo projects with Reunion Records. He was nominated for twelve Gospel Music Association Dove Awards throughout his career, and had many #1 radio hits. His church standard, "Awesome God," was voted in 1989 as one of the top three songs of the decade according to the Christian Research Report. This film reveals his inner demons and his quest to discover if God truly loved him.
PREVIEW REVIEW: Does God love us? It’s a question that, according to this docudrama, haunted Rich Mullins. There are times when that vexing question keeps any person of conscious up at night. Our guilt over past behavior sometimes overwhelms even the most devout Believer. “How could I have said that?” “How could I, a Christian, have done such an uncaring act?” Or, “Why has God allowed this to happen, if it isn’t his wrath against me?” The film’s ultimate goal is to make clear that we aren’t alone when it comes to deciphering these puzzles.
I’ve heard some say that once God has forgiven you, to raise such a question is done out of ego? How dare we question God? I’m not sure I get that. If I’ve done something that has had a negative effect on someone else; the deed perhaps even leading someone away from God, how do I just forget my wrongdoing or forgive myself? (This relates to the film in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this sermonette.)
Our security in God’s love drifts around us like a vapor until we settle on the awareness that our Heavenly Father loves us no matter what. BTW: Heavenly Father may be the secret two words to finding absolution and peace concerning this film’s theme.
Focusing on Him, making Bible study and prayer an essential part of my day: when I do these, I come to trust that God will protect and provide for those I’ve wronged. I care about these people who no longer give me a second thought (presumably). That goes along with the second part of Christ’s answer to the question, “What’s the most important commandment? (“…love others as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-40.)
Back to the film: Not being a big fan of today’s Praise and Worship music, which he helped replace the more substantial congregational hymns with, I never followed Rich Mullins. Therefore, I’m basing my concept of who he was on the film’s portrayal. According to the movie, he was kind of a hippy who went shoeless whenever possible, smoked, struggled with alcohol, could be rude and thoughtless to others, and rebelled against the establishment. He was a flawed human being, and we certainly aren’t accustomed to seeing our men of God portrayed as flawed throughout an entire faith-based movie.
The motion picture is long, repeating its premise over and over. But it does flow, and it addresses important issues in an engaging way. By film’s end you realize that we’re not better Christians just because we rebel against people of hypocrisy. No one escapes moments when our flawed nature takes center stage, so disliking others for hypocritical examples seems like stone-throwing. And you’re not a better Christian just because you sell all your belongings (if done for the wrong reasons). Our seeking the Heavenly Father through scripture and prayer is the key to finding our solutions and His will. And I can tell you from experience, that’s something we have to do, you should excuse the saying, religiously.
There is one moment when all is fixed in our lives: when we accept Christ as our Savor (John 3:16). But from that acceptance on (in this lifetime) the Christian’s spiritual nature is under permanent construction. Like working at any relationship, a perfect unity with God is something that demands attention DAILY. HOURLY.
We’re not robots. We have a personalized personality. And we are all subject to baser instincts. Our Lord is aware of this. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Mullins never has a close relationship with his dad in the picture; he loses the one girl he loved due to his self-centeredness; he is at war with the very industry in which he makes his living; and perhaps because of his artistic nature, he remains a tortured soul (according to the film) throughout. Unlike most faith-based films, there is no game-changing moment, but rather a series of them. That’s the reality of life, isn’t it?
Romans 8 – No condemnation in Christ.
Romans 8 – saved not by commandments – but by Christ/
Eph. 2:8 – saved by grace, not works.
1st Peter 4:8 – love makes up for many faults.
Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Hebrews 13:5 – I will never leave you nor forsake you.
While Ragamuffin is far from my favorite, it’s a film I’m glad I saw.