Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven

Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (A Devotional Biography). James Bryan Smith. 2000. B&H. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

I first read this one years ago, probably seven or eight years ago. I was inspired to pick it up again after watching the new film, Ragamuffin. I was thinking about writing up a post about the movie itself, but, a few sentences in this book review would probably do just as well.

My thoughts on the film. First, I think this one is a movie for Ragamuffins by Ragamuffins. The point of the film seems to be humanity's brokenness: a need for a Savior, a need for honesty or transparency, a willingness to be vulnerable in community, in the church. It is biographical film about Rich Mullins. The film goes to ugly, uncomfortable places. Places that God is more willing to go than His followers, perhaps. There were scenes that were difficult to watch. There were scenes that I loved, however. The book does a better job, perhaps, of contrasting highs and lows, light and darkness. I did think the movie focused more on the darkness and the misery and the ugliness of life. When the movie was good, it was GREAT. I'm thinking in particular of the scenes where Rich and Brennan Manning are together, and he has been given the assignment (by Brennan) to write a letter to himself from his father.

My thoughts on the book. An Arrow Pointing to Heaven is not a traditional biography, a chronological biography. The book shares some details of his life, from various points in his life. But. It's a devotional biography. It is arranged topically. These are topics or subjects that were important to Rich Mullins. These were topics that came up again and again in his writing, in his songs. Each chapter gives readers a glimpse into Rich Mullins' life, a chance to see what was important to him, and why. The book keeps God very central. It is rich in lessons Mullins learned about the God he loved and served.

The table of contents:

  • First Family: Understanding His Roots
  • Creed: Being Made in the Church
  • The Love of God: Encountering the Reckless, Raging Fury
  • Boy Like Me/Man Like You: Trusting in Jesus
  • Calling Out Your Name: Seeing God in The Beauty of Creation
  • Bound to Come Some Trouble: Growing Through Struggle and Pain
  • My One Thing: Finding Freedom in Simplicity
  • Growing Young: Dealing With Sin and Temptation
  • Brother's Keeper: Learning to Love One Another
  • That Where I Am, There You May Also Be: Meditating on Death and the Life to Come
  • Social Aspects of the Beatitudes (by Rich Mullins)
  • Scared of the Dark (by Rich Mullins)

From the introduction:
Rich Mullins was a man who stood among the ruins--the ruins created by his own faults and failings, the ruins that result from the ravages of time. In the midst of the ruins he pointed to heaven, to the God who bundles our brokenness and heals our wounds. (2)
From "The Love of God: Encountering the Reckless Raging Fury"
It is hard to love an angry God. It is also difficult to see ourselves as God's beloved children if we believe we are worthless. (60)
Whatever else we may think we want, the thing we need is God's love. (63)
The love we are longing for is a love that loves not in spite of but in light of our weaknesses and failures. We long to be loved as we are, with all of our defects known. Only then will we truly feel that we are loved. But this kind of love belongs only to God. We humans are too limited to give it. That is why finding it anywhere except in God is impossible. (63)
Comprehending the love of God was difficult for Rich, but it is no less difficult for any of the rest of us. There is no one who can understand how much and how passionately and how tenderly God loves us. There is nothing that is beyond God, but there is much that is beyond us, and grasping this love is one of them. (66)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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