Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Sometimes, if you're not going to sin, it's nice to be tempted"

It was twenty years ago this week that Rich Mullins and his Ragamuffin Band released their still amazing album, A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band.

In observance of this anniversary, Rich's producer, Reed Arvin, sat for an interview with Christianity Today's Chris Marchand. I was particularly struck, but not really surprised when Mr. Arvin shared this:
Most people are surprised to learn that Rich wasn't particularly involved during recording, simply because he wasn't interested. He would disappear for long stretches. I would beg him to stay around more, because I was quite worried that he would come back after we'd spent a good deal of time going in a direction and pronounce that he didn't like it. But he very rarely expressed opinions about things musically. I very rarely had musical discussions with Rich. On the other hand, I had many, many discussions with him about politics, religion, and philosophy
I was struck because this reminded me that Rich didn't see his music as an end itself, as his road to fame, fortune, and making a name for himself. It was a means to an end, both for himself and those who listen to it, thus making his music a true ministry.

When asked how Rich would've fared had he not been tragically killed back in 1997, given the changes in the music industry, especially in Contemporary Christian Music, Arvin said, "He was immune financially, because he set up his life to live on a tiny fraction of what he earned. The implosion of the music business would have meant next to nothing to him."

Rich's lead-in to this song off the album, which is really a prayer asking Jesus to help us fight the battle that is within, may seem quaint, even hokey to many people, but these are battles that I believe are worth fighting daily. You know what? Like Rich, sometimes I get my butt kicked, especially when I am stupid enough to try to fight on my own, spiritual weakling that I am. But Jesus reminds me over and over that He won the victory for me by His passion, death, and resurrection. I always appreciated Rich's honesty, even in the awareness that being honest made him vulnerable. We need companions. We cannot walk the road to destiny alone, which reality can serve as a huge provocation, a challenge to our preference of going it alone.

This is not a late Friday traditio, but a whole-hearted remembrance.

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