"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, September 09, 2013

fallen angel

I don't know what I expected, really.


Every now and then I blog about something controversial, at least in my world. For example, here. And here. Most of the time, I don't.

The fact is, I don't really enjoy arguing, except in short spurts, when there is an absolute guarantee of continuing friendship after a respectful, intelligent, intense back-and-forth discussion. I recognize that's quite a narrow category. Like I said - I don't really enjoy arguing.


Last week, I finally got a chance to watch Fallen Angel. The maker of the film is a friend of mine, which is not to say I am biased; it is to say that I wouldn't write about his film if I didn't like it. Because he's a friend.

I liked it.

Many don't.

Apparently, a number of people have some awfully strong feelings of anger about this documentary, because when you have a hero, and the hero is not heroic, that can be difficult. When heroes are less than heroic, the stories are complicated, the pain is deep, the truth is up for grabs ... and so is the validity of everything the hero did.

And how ridiculous is that - that last part, I mean? Imagine denying someone's undeniable impact on the world, simply because they turned out to be ... fallen.

Larry Norman. Father of Christian rock and roll. Gifted. Brilliant, probably. Born at the right time and place in history. Landed in a place of powerful influence. Adored by some. Reviled by others. ... Broken.

... and aren't we all? Broken, that is?

Some of us handle our broken parts better or worse than others. Some of us are more or less visible than others. But even Mother Teresa was broken. (Whoa - hang on - breathe - I'm not comparing Larry Norman with Mother Teresa. Everybody back in the pool.)


So I don't know what I expected. Probably another vindictive, triumphant diatribe against a visible Christian personality with some disturbing skeletons in his closet, thus exposing not only that person, but every other follower of Jesus as a heartless fraud; and God as non-existent.

This was not that.

This was the story of a guy on a very high pedestal, there due to circumstances, his own efforts, and others' adoration. You and I both know that pedestals are scary places. They're visible. And isolating. They are not an accurate reflection of reality. And they're tippy.

But ... and here's what was unexpected.

This is also a story of hard honesty, with compassion as the last word.

A story of real forgiveness, without any denial of the pain or consequences. Which is an amazing thing, right there.

It is a story of God's ability to bring good out of just about anything.

Which is, of course, a story that is repeated over and over and over again in the Bible.

No doubt, others have different versions of the story. That's the thing about story. It is endless. And complicated. And nuanced.

But for me, sad as it was, "Fallen Angel" left me oddly encouraged. And grounded. And thankful.

That's the kind of story I like.

PS My blog, my rules. Comment freely, but I reserve the right to delete if you get ugly. It's not a denial of your right to free speech. It's an exercising of my right to ignore discourtesy.


BanjoSue said...

we sure do have our teasures in earthen vessels, and the proof is still in God! so glad for that truth and grace

Anonymous said...

When you see what the filmmaker continually posts in the "Failed Angle" Facebook group, I question of the film ended "with compassion as the last word."

His current obsession is calling to doubt the "legitimacy" of Larry's younger brother Charles.

Every Dylan needs a A. J. Weberman.