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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Larry Norman is dead, and I don't feel so good myself

At my church, one of us is on a gluten free diet, another desires to avoid high fructose corn syrup, and three of us (at least) are taking a fistful of pills per day. For some reason, a little while ago, the concept of the 80's song "American Fast Food" by Randy Stonehill popped into my head. Last night, I went to look it up on the internet, and found four different versions of video posted. Whoever did the one on vimeo ( really did an excellent job of adding video.

Nonetheless, while glancing through the listings on the search engine, I noticed that Stonehill's mentor in bizarre creativity, Larry Norman, died in 2008. I pulled up the wikipedia entry for Norman, which is long enough to be a short biography. I hadn't heard anything about him since I saw him in concert in the late 1970's, which was billed as his last tour in the area I lived in. As I learned in this reading, he figured that he was on his last tour for the rest of his life, it appears. Some parts of his story are sad, some disappointing, and a lot of it is just creative genius bizarre. I think back and recognize how his music, combined with doing and saying things counter to the Christian cultural norm, made it easier for me, over the years, to at least desire to follow the Spirit without regard to what is status quo, and that, in turn, allowed me to continue to grow in faith. Even though I have hardly anything in worldly possessions, allowing oneself to be free to follow the Holy Spirit is to be free, indeed.

Currently, I am reading Watchman Nee's "Release of the Spirit." I will be posting my thoughts about this book when I am done. I know that the first time I heard of Nee was when Larry told one of the apocryphal stories of what happened to Nee in a Communist Chinese jail on one of his albums. While reading Chapter 8, I couldn't help thinking that what Nee was describing as the person God can use is almost the opposite of Norman's actions, at least as they might be perceived by those who were not his personal friends or acquaintences. Between the two, not that it means anything, my feeling is that Nee is closer to being correct, as to how to be the person God can use. Still, Norman's contribution to the community of believers was important, even for those who had nothing good to say about him.

I have read that, since the last album I was familiar with, he released 27 more. I also realize that the large number had to do with paying medical bills. I don't know if I even want to hear that which I haven't heard already. Yet, again, one of these days, I probably will. His political radicalism which was only there to point people back to Jesus sits well with me. Twice this year, I have been asked what my political alignment is; it's a great question to give a totally unexpected answer to. The last time I was asked that, I said that I have made up my mind who I'll vote for, but I am so unhappy with the choices, I won't tell who it is. Why do I say that? Both major parties have at least one issue in which their stand is roughly congruent with that of one desiring to serve Jesus, and stands on issues that are not, and stands which, if they are congruent with Christian belief, are held for other reasons. That's the reason I have never given a penny to a political cause, and never will--that is unless you consider giving to Voice of the Martyrs, which helps believers in lands where governments punish people for following Jesus.

When I read the article about Norman, I didn't feel too good. Today, I feel better. I know that more of my visit to this planet is over verses what is left to come. Now, more and more, I hear of the passing of those who are my contemporaries. My question is how I can give to the members of the family who are coming up behind me.

For anyone who doesn't know, I am not being insensitive, but the title above is a parody of the title of one of (I think, the last of) comic writer Louis Grizzard's books. I didn't read it, and almost assuredly never get around to it.

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