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September 3, 2014 - 

Rich Mullins has been venerated by many Christian music fans. Congregations still sing his chorus “Our God Is an Awesome God” long after his death 17 years ago.Ragamuffin gives viewers a look at the man behind the music, a man who did not fit the slick image of the contemporary Christian musicians of his day.

According to the film, Mullins grew up on a farm where music and creativity seemed beside the point. Life was about the hard work of farming, and Mullins found himself unsuited for it. His relationship with his father suffered as he bumbled through one task after another.

His talent drew the interest of the Christian music community in Nashville, but he also found that a difficult place to be. He longed for a more radical way of following Christ—something that was real and true, not just part of a show. This film version of his life gives an honest look at his flaws as well as his gifts and talents—a powerful combination that emphasizes God’s unconditional love for us.

The title, Ragamuffin, alludes to the impact of his relationship with former Franciscan priest Brennan Manning, the author of a book about God’s grace calledThe Ragamuffin Gospel. There are some irritating flaws in this movie. First-year college students are played by actors who look to be about 35. And then there is Michael Koch’s hair; as the actor who played Rich Mullins he had long hair in one scene, short in the next, and then long again. These distractions took away from my appreciation of the moviemaking, but they didn’t take away from my appreciation of his story.

As a young Amy Grant fan in the early 80s, I knew songs that Rich Mullins had written, even though I had no idea he existed. After watching the movie I immediately purchased two of his albums so I could get to know him better. You might like to get to know him too. On disc now. (Millennium)

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