2.29.2008

Our Lives as Jesus Followers in the 1970s -- more on Larry Norman

Read my last post before this one, if you haven't yet . . . and if you get these posts through Feedburner or another RSS method, go to http://www.myrealjourney.com and watch the videos I have posted there of Larry's live performances. Larry Norman live is just so much better than Larry's albums . . .

I read this tribute to Larry on facebook this morning, and could very much identify with it, so I wanted to share it with all you who never even heard of Larry Norman before my last post:

Written by Chris Clendenen
"I wanted to share the "tribute" I wrote the other night when I learned of Larry's departure, and just couldn't sleep...

"I was lost and blind 'til a Friend of mine came and took me by the hand. Then He led me to His Kingdom; it was in another land...."

Tonight I learned of the passing of Larry Norman into the presence of his Lord. I would not have immediately expected tears to come upon the hearing of this, but they have indeed come.

For whatever condition my spiritual life may be, Larry was the first person to disciple me, via a twelve inch circular vinyl LP entitled "Only Visiting This Planet". I literally wore out the grooves on that album, the one with the black label and the gatefold cover; and before I ever got a copy of "In Another Land", I had to buy another copy of "Planet"- this time the one with the blue label and without the gatefold cover.

At a time when Judas Iscariot was getting all the good press with "Jesus Christ Superstar", and it was in no way cool to be otherwise associated with Jesus Christ, Larry unapologetically proclaimed his allegiance and celebrated his Lord with verve (inside joke intended).

He brazenly mocked the pseudo-spirituality of the pop culture crowd to their faces with his scathing parody album "Streams of White Light Into Darkened Corners." Of the mainstream church, he said, "They say I'm sinful, and backslidden; that I have left to follow fame. But, here I am talking 'bout Jesus just the same." When starting a song with a line like "Sippin' whiskey from a paper cup" would have gotten you kicked out of 99% of the churches in America, Larry had the temerity to start with THAT and then to lay it on the line with a second verse that added, "Gonorrhea on Valentine's Day; and you're still lookin' for the perfect lay...." Then he made his point clearly enough that even the most dope-addled freak among us could understand: "Why don't you look into Jesus?- He's got the answer."

And thousands of us, maybe millions, dumped our dope and picked up our Bibles. We put on our headphones, cranked Larry up real loud, and read for ourselves about the Rock that Doesn't Roll and the Unidentified Flying Object coming back to take us home. Now we are a peculiar people- our ears may not be able to hear you without a PA system and power chords (or at least a good hearing aid), but our hearts hear God's still small voice ok.

And that is what Larry was interested in. He opened the doors of the church to the freaks and longhairs and tired rebels looking for a God worthy of their lives. And he gave God's new wave of musical evangelists a platform from which to proclaim their Lord- Solid Rock Records. Christian kids everywhere stood up with our fingers pointing to heaven, crying "ONE WAY!" His "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" became a campfire classic. CCM'ers, Christian folkies, Hardcore Freaks, and Christian rockers of every strype have a common musical founding father in Larry Norman.

Tonight, I imagine Larry is standing before his Lord, singing "We can be together, now and forever- I Love You". His body is whole again, and the youthful fire that burned so brightly in him is back for good.

One last thing- one more gift that Larry gave me: Years ago my wife told me that her earliest recollection of me was in the college Sunday school class of Harvard Avenue Baptist Church; perched on the back of a folding chair with my twelve-string, singing Larry's "The Outlaw" for the class, making his song my own. In all time and eternity I do not think I could imagine a better first impression I would want for my Kathie to have of me.

Thanks, Larry; and rock on.

Chris Clendenen
February 25, 2008
This World is Not My Home- I'm Just Passin' Through.
Death is Conquered While You Slumber- Seven is the Perfect Number."

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